Sometimes a night out just gets away from you. Causing property damage may be an accident, it may be the furthest thing from your mind, or you may not have done it at all. Unfortunately, vandalism and other offenses resulting in damage to someone else’s property can lead to serious penalties under the law. Let’s take a look at New Jersey’s law against criminal mischief and why causing damage to another person or company’s property can land you in serious trouble, and even in jail. To speak with an experienced Union County criminal mischief lawyer about your specific case, call (908) 838-0150 today. We defend clients throughout the Union County area and are available to provide you with a free consultation.
Criminal Mischief in Union, New Jersey
If you were to trash a hotel room, destroy something in someone’s house, spray paint a local school, or do something else that results in property damage, you might face a charge of criminal mischief in New Jersey. Criminal mischief generally involves the destruction of another person’s property either knowingly, recklessly, or purposely. It can also be caused negligently if the damage involved the improper use of fire, explosives, or certain other dangerous means.
The severity of the charge filed against you generally depends on the dollar amount of the damage involved. If you cause $500 or less in damage, you can be charged with a disorderly persons offense for criminal mischief. If you cause between $501-$2,000 in damages, you can be charged with a fourth degree crime. If you cause over $2,000 in damage, you can be charged with an even more serious third degree crime for engaging in criminal mischief. You can also be charged with a third or fourth degree crime for criminal mischief if you damage certain particularly sensitive property, including research facilities, airports, graveyards, oil and gas mains, and certain communication facilities.
What Happens if I’m Convicted of Criminal Mischief in Union County, NJ
Penalties for criminal mischief in New Jersey can be steep. For a disorderly persons offense, you can face up to six months in county jail. You may also have to pay fines and restitution to the victim. For a fourth-degree indictable offense for criminal mischief, you will be facing up to 18 months in state prison, along with a number of other penalties. And for a third-degree indictable offense for criminal mischief, that sentence goes up to three to five years in state prison, along with all other consequences like fines and restitution.
Police and prosecutors often rely on eyewitness statements to establish criminal mischief cases. If a concerned neighbor happened to see you throwing a chair through a window, that neighbor’s statement would likely make it into a police report and be used against you in court. If surveillance footage from a security camera, video doorbell, or even CCTV from a nearby business or convenience store caught any of the property destruction, that would also be compelling evidence supporting a criminal mischief conviction. In some cases, such as those involving domestic violence, a family member, household member, or another person in the home at the time will provide police with a statement about what happened. Witness testimony, combined with broken furniture or other physical evidence at the scene, is likely to be used in court.
Example of Vandalism & Criminal Mischief
A 29-year-old woman from New Jersey allegedly trashed an Airbnb where she was staying during a friend’s bachelorette party. After drinking two bottles of wine, law enforcement alleges that she smashed the two front windows of the house where she was staying with her bare feet, threw furniture that included a coffee table around the house, damaged chairs, lamps, and blinds, and generally left the Airbnb in “total disarray.” The New Jersey woman is currently facing an out-of-state vandalism charge for causing $1,900 in property damage. If this case had originated in New Jersey, she would likely have been arrested for criminal mischief.
Need Defense for Union Criminal Mischief Case
If you are in need of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can aggressively fight your criminal mischief charges in Union County or elsewhere in New Jersey, contact our firm today. You can reach us at (908) 838-0150 or contact us online anytime to speak with an attorney. When facing the serious repercussions of a criminal conviction and the potential impact on your future, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting more information. Take the first step toward protecting your rights by speaking with a Union criminal mischief lawyer free of charge.