Criminal Mischief in Pennsylvania – How serious is the charge against Carson Briere and what will likely happen in his case?
Recently, the Philadelphia Flyers interim General Manager Danny Briere’ son, Carson Briere, was charged with criminal mischief and disorderly conduct in Erie County, Pennsylvania following an incident where he allegedly threw an empty wheelchair down stairs. No one was injured but the incident was allegedly captured on video which went viral on social media.
Briere is currently a student at Mercyhurst University and plays Division I ice hockey for the team. It is unknown if he will face discipline action at the University which could affect his status as a student and a player, but local authorities in Erie have charged him these two (2) criminal offenses in Pennsylvania.
What is criminal mischief?
Criminal mischief can include any of the following crimes and offenses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey:
- Tearing up lawns
- Breaking doors
- Destroying door locks
- Breaking windows
- Slashing tires
- Intentionally damaging vehicles or other personal property
How serious is a criminal mischief charge in Pennsylvania?
Criminal mischief is a very common crime that our law firm defends in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It is an extremely broad charge which involves defacing, destroying, or damaging the real or person property of another person. In these cases, our criminal defense law firm has represented juveniles and adult defendants.
Under Section 3304 (Title 18), criminal mischief is a misdemeanor of the second degree if the loss is in excess of $1,000 and a misdemeanor of the third degree if the loss is in excess of $500, but less than $1,000. Briere is charged with a misdemeanor of the second and it is alleged that the value of the wheelchair exceed $1,000.00. If the damage is less than $150, it is a summary offense. Criminal Mischief is a felony (3rd degree) if the loss is in excess of $5,000 or caused an eruption or impairment to some public communication, transportation or public utility. There is no such allegation in the Briere case.
How serious is a criminal mischief charge in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, criminal mischief is graded very similar to Pennsylvania under Section 2C: 17-3 of the New Jersey Crimes Code. It is a crime of the third degree if the person causes the loss of $2,000 or more and a crime of the fourth degree if it is between $500 and $2000. In all other cases it is a disorderly person’s offense. Unlike Pennsylvania, New Jersey does not classify crimes as felonies or misdemeanor offenses, but rather crimes and offenses. Offenses are handled in New Jersey’s Municipal Court while crimes are handled in New Jersey’s Superior Court.
What should a person do if they are charged with criminal mischief?
If you’re charged with criminal mischief in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, you should never plead guilty to the charge without first discussing your options with a qualitied criminal defense lawyer in Pennsylvania or New Jersey. In many situations your criminal defense lawyer attorney can negotiate a non-trial disposition for a much favorable result which will allow you to avoid any criminal record. In addition to diversion programs, you may have strong defenses at trial which should be explored prior to entering any plea negotiations.
What is likely going to happen in the Carson Briere case in Erie, Pennsylvania?
In addition to Briere, another player was charged with him and faces similar charges. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 22, 2023. A preliminary hearing is not a trial but the first opportunity for the prosecution to establish a prima facie case against a criminal defendant. It is likely that Briere will waive his preliminary hearing and likely enter into a diversion program given that it appears strong evidence exists against him in the matter. I do not expect Briere to serve any jail time, pay a substantial fine or even come out of this incident with a criminal record.
It is likely that a Court will sentence him to community service and order that he pay restitution to replace the wheelchair in question as a condition of the diversion program. I believe the Briere will be accepted into a diversion program given that he has no prior criminal history and has likely never been in trouble before in his life. If Briere does not comply with the conditions of his diversion program, his case would return to the traditional criminal court system where he would likely be convicted. Even if he was convicted in a criminal court, jail is very unlikely but he would still have a criminal record which could affect future opportunities for him personally and professionally.
What is the benefit of a diversion program?
A diversion program such as Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) allows a person to avoid a criminal conviction and a criminal record. In Pennsylvania, misdemeanor and felony convictions are not expungeable regardless of the type of crime or the severity. Recent changes to Pennsylvania law now make certain misdemeanor convictions sealable, which limits access to the records to only law enforcement agencies. For more information, please contact our firm or visit our free download section.
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