Interestingly, there is no actual provision in the penal code called “vandalism.” The term is used frequently however, usually referring to the act of destroying or defacing another’s property. This crime is called Criminal Mischief. There are 4 different levels of this crime, with the least severe being Criminal Mischief in the 4th degree (a Misdemeanor). This crime deals with property damage that does not exceed $250.00. This type of vandalism is often seen as the painting of graffiti on buildings, for instance. It is punishable by up to one year in jail, as well as fines, probation and community service. The next level up is Criminal Mischief in the 3d degree, which is a Felony. A Felony is punishable by over one year or more in prison. This level of crime deals with property damage up to $1,500.00. Criminal Mischief in the 2nd degree covers property damage over $1,500. and is classified as a D Felony. Lastly, Criminal Mischief in the 1st degree is a B Felony, and pertains to property that has been damaged by explosives. A New York Criminal Mischief Lawyer will explain to you that these charges and punishments can be quite serious. It is highly recommended that you seek legal guidance of a New York Criminal Lawyer to handle your case.
Criminal Mischief can come in many forms; one that is quite common is “road rage.” Road rage is where one driver gets into a heated argument with another over their driving practices. Things escalate, and before you know it one party kicks or otherwise damages another’s car. The person who damaged the car will likely be arrested by New York Police. When the police officer shows up, he will be making the judgment call as to the level of damage to the car, which in turns effects which level of Criminal Mischief the defendant will be charged with. This leaves a lot of discretion in the hands of the police, and it can seriously impact what you are charged with (based on the perceived monetary damage to the car). It is also problematic that the District Attorney does not make a habit of questioning the damage estimates that are submitted by the complainant. This again, is left open to a lot of speculation, which can have an adverse impact on your case. Additionally, these cases often include overlapping charges particularly if the exchange between the parties became physical, such as Assault, Possession of a Small Weapon and even Murder or Manslaughter.
If you have been charged with Criminal Mischief and are tackling a case brought against you in the New York Criminal Court system, it is important that you know your rights and have the support of a New York City Criminal Lawyer working on your behalf
Contact the Office of Stephen Bilkis and Associates, where we can offer you guidance and a completely free consultation when you phone us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW. We have offices in New York City, including Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island and The Bronx and in Nassau County, Suffolk County and Westchester County.