What You Need to Know About Criminal Mischief in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
What is a criminal mischief charge in Pennsylvania?
Our law firm represents individuals charged with crimes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A very common crime that our law firm has to deal with is criminal mischief. This is an extremely broad criminal charge and involves the defacing, destroying, or damaging of real or personal property of another. Our law firm has represented juvenile and adult clients for these charges in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
This crime in Pennsylvania under Section 3304 (Title 18) can be graded as a felony of the 3rd degree if the loss is in excess of $5,000 or causes an interruption or impairment of some public communication, transportation or other public utility.
It is a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree if the loss is in excess of $1,000 and a misdemeanor of the 3rd degree if the loss is in excess of $500, but less than $1,000. If the damage is less than $150, criminal mischief is a summary offense in Pennsylvania. Given the wide range of criminality sentences can range from a fine to State prison.
It is very important that your criminal defense lawyer evaluate all possible trial and non-trial options in this case. In the case of a criminal mischief, it is very important that the Commonwealth (prosecution) present evidence with regards to damages as it will affect the grading of the offense or crime in the Commonwealth. There is a substantial difference between a felony and a misdemeanor crime.
What is a criminal mischief in New Jersey?
Criminal mischief under New Jersey’s Crimes Code is very similar to Pennsylvania undersection Section 2C:17-3. The crime is a 3rd degree offense if the person charged and convicted causes a loss of $2,000 or more. It is a crime of the 4th degree if the loss is between $500 and $2,000 and in all other cases criminal mischief in the Garden State is a disorderly person’s offense if the loss is $500 or less. Again, it is very important to understand that your criminal defense lawyer in New Jersey must evaluate all possible and non-trial options in these cases.
Criminal mischief in New Jersey, like Pennsylvania, is a crime of the 3rd degree if the acter causes or interrupts a public communication, transportation or utility. Unlike Pennsylvania, New Jersey does not classify crimes as felony and 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 (crimes of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th degrees).
What should you do if you’re arrested for criminal mischief?
If you’re charged with criminal mischief in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, you should not plead guilty to the charge because in most situations your attorney can negotiate a non-trial disposition for a much favorable result if you have no prior criminal history. Even if you have prior criminal history, if it is unrelated to the current charge your attorney, in many cases, can negotiate a non-trial disposition (plea) which is usually substantially less than what the prosecution initially charged.
Criminal mischief includes the following crimes and offenses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey:
- Defacing building or homes
- Tearing up laws with vehicles
- Breaking doors
- Destroying door locks
- Breaking windows
- Slashing tires
- Intentionally damaging vehicles
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