When you are in college, it’s easy to get caught up in pranks like egging someone’s car or spray-painting an office building. However, if you are arrested for damaging another person’s property, what seemed like fun at the time can quickly turn into a serious situation.
Penalties for Adult Criminal Mischief
In Pennsylvania, vandalism is typically referred to as criminal mischief. If you are charged as an adult with criminal mischief, the penalties will be based on the value of the property that was destroyed.
- If the damage is less than $150, it is a summary offense, punishable by up to 90 days in jail.
- Damage assessed at $150 to $1,000, is a misdemeanor of the third degree, punishable by up to one year in prison.
- Damage valued at $1,000 to $5,000 is a misdemeanor of the second degree and you can be sent to prison for up to two years.
- With a property loss or more than $5,000, you face a felony of the third degree and up to seven years in prison.
Pennsylvania singles out damage done to a place of worship, school or any building owned by the government, from damage to other types of property. If you are charged as an adult with institutional vandalism, it’s important to know that losses less than $5,000 are a misdemeanor of the second degree while losses valued at more than $5,000 are a felony of the third degree.
What Pennsylvania Law Says About Vandalism
In Pennsylvania, whether you are an adult or a minor it is illegal to damage, destroy or deface property that does not belong to you.
Steps To Take If You Are Charged Criminal Mischief or Institutional Vandalism
If you have recently been arrested or charged with criminal mischief or institutional vandalism, think wisely about hiring an underage attorney. These charges are serious misdemeanor (and occasionally felony) offenses that come with sizable fines, prison time, and a permanent criminal record if you’re convicted. If you speak to an attorney before moving forward, you can have someone by your side while you speak with law enforcement and get a better sense of what the evidence against you is.
Fighting Vandalism Charges
Your defense attorney will work behind the scenes to have the charges dismissed or lowered based on the Commonwealth’s evidence for your case. There can be circumstances or evidence that can be be suppressed or ruled inadmissible depending on how it was acquired or handled. Your attorney will also begin building your defense to achieve the best possible outcome based on your unique legal circumstance, and he or she will be by your side when you appear in court.
If your case is dismissed, you may be eligible for a criminal record expungement. This effectively clears your record of the charge. Your attorney can walk you through this process and help you prepare the right documentation to clear your record.