Criminal mischief is an offense that you may be charged with if someone intentionally or carelessly damages another person’s property without their permission. The damage caused does not have to be expensive or significant. The key to this crime is that the damage occurred because of reckless and/or intentional actions.
In Pennsylvania, criminal mischief covers a wide range of situations. For example, if you intentionally paint graffiti on your teacher’s front door or throw lit firecrackers into your neighbor’s mailbox, you could be charged with criminal mischief.
Criminal mischief cases are very common in Pittsburgh area courts. The punishment for this crime has an especially broad range. You can be charged with anything from a felony of the third degree (punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine) to a summary offense – depending on the circumstances. If you find yourself charged with criminal mischief, contacting an experienced property crime lawyer to represent and defend you can reduce the penalties you face. Call (412) 281-2146 for a free consultation.
What is Criminal Mischief?
In Pennsylvania, it is criminal mischief if someone intentionally or recklessly:
- Damages someone else’s tangible property recklessly, or by negligence, using fire, explosives, or other dangerous means
- Intentionally or recklessly tampers with another person’s tangible property so as to endanger person or property
- Intentionally or recklessly causes another to suffer financial loss by deception or threat
- Intentionally defaces or otherwise damages tangible public property or the tangible property of another person with graffiti by use of any aerosol spray-paint can, broad-tipped indelible marker or similar marking device
- Intentionally damages someone else’s real or personal property
- Intentionally defaces personal, private or public property by discharging a paintball gun or paintball marker
A Pittsburgh Criminal Mischief Lawyer Can Help
If you have been charged with criminal mischief with an intentional loss of more than $5,000 or with any substantial interruption or impairment of public communication, transportation, water supply, gas supply, power supply, or other public services, you can be charged with a third-degree felony.
A charge of criminal mischief with an intentional loss of more than $1,000 but less than $1,500 is a second-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. Criminal mischief involving an intentional loss of $250 for defacing property is a third-degree misdemeanor, as is intentionally or recklessly causing a loss of more than $500. Other forms of criminal mischief may be charged as a summary offense. All other criminal mischief is a summary offense.