Criminal mischief is one of the most common crimes against property. It is defined as damaging another person’s property. There are 4 different criminal mischief offenses in the New York criminal code: criminal mischief in the fourth degree, third degree, second degree and first degree. The specific charge you will face if you damage someone’s property depends on the amount of damage, the type of property damaged, and how the property was damaged. While the word “mischief” may imply that this crime is minor, three of the four criminal mischief offenses are felonies.
If you have been accused of criminal mischief, contact a criminal immigration lawyer immediately!
Criminal mischief in the fourth degree
Criminal mischief in the fourth degree is the least serious criminal mischief crime. It is the charge you will face if you intentionally damage another person’s property or you intentionally damage an abandoned building. It also is the charge you will face if you damage someone’s phone equipment to prevent them from seeking emergency assistance, or if you recklessly damage another person’s property and the damage exceeds $250. It is a Class A misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 145.00. If you are convicted you could spend up to 1 year in jail.
Criminal mischief in the third degree
If you intentionally damage other person’s property and the damages exceed $250, then you will be charged with criminal mischief in the third degree. You will also face this charge if you damage someone’s vehicle by breaking into it with the intent of stealing it, and you have been convicted at least 3 times in the past 10 years of criminal mischief in the fourth, third, second or first degree. It is a Class E felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 145.05.
Criminal mischief in the second degree
If the intentional property damage you cause exceeds $1,500, then you will be charged with the Class D felony of criminal mischief in the second degree. N.Y. Pen. Law § 145.10
Criminal mischief in the first degree
It is a Class B felony and is the most serious criminal mischief crime. If you intentionally damage another person’s property using an explosive the prosecutor will charge you will first degree criminal mischief. N.Y. Pen. Law § 145.12
Punishment for criminal mischief conviction
Because it is a Class A misdemeanor, the potential jail sentence is up to a year. However, all of the other three offenses are felonies with the following potential prison sentences:
- Criminal mischief in third degree: Up to 4 years
- Criminal mischief in second degree: Up to 7 years
- Criminal mischief in first degree: Up to 25 years
In addition to jail or prison time, your sentence will likely include restitution. This means that you may be required to pay the victim for the property damages you caused.
Do not be fooled by the word “mischief” in the name of this offense. This is a serious crime with serious consequences. If you are arrested and charged with criminal mischief, your best course of action would be to contact an attorney who has experience representing in New York criminal courts clients who have been charged with criminal mischief.