Criminal Mischief Attorney in Hudson County

Criminal mischief is criminal offense that is commonly associated with a domestic incident, trespassing, or vandalism such as spray painting. Don’t be fooled because a criminal mischief charge is often very serious and can very degree or severity depending on the facts and the type of property that was alleged damaged. Under the law it does not matter if the property is public, private, or even if the property appears to be abandoned – which is often the case. If you are convicted of criminal mischief you will face penalties which include community service, probation, thousands in restitution and even prison time. For these reasons, it is important that you hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to defend your interests. William Proetta Criminal Law, represents clients charged with criminal mischief throughout New Jersey including North Bergen, Weehawken, Kearny, Secaucus, Union City, and Bayonne. Our law firm is typically able to get criminal mischief charges downgraded to a municipal ordinance, or dismissed altogether. Contact our Jersey City Office today to have a free initial consultation with an experienced criminal mischief defense attorney at (201) 793-8018.

NJ Statute 2C: 17-3 Criminal Mischief Law

The New Jersey statute allows for a very broad interpretation of criminal mischief and encompasses a wide range of different actions and property. As a general rule, the degree of crime is determined by the type of property and amount of loss suffered by the victim. The New Jersey criminal mischief statute, in pertinent part, reads as follows: a. Offense defined. A person is guilty of criminal mischief if he: (1) Purposely or knowingly damages tangible property of another or damages tangible property of another recklessly or negligently in the employment of fire, explosives or other dangerous means listed in subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:17-2; or (2) Purposely, knowingly or recklessly tampers with tangible property of another so as to endanger person or property, including the damaging or destroying of a rental premises by a tenant in retaliation for institution of eviction proceedings. b. Grading.(1) Criminal mischief is a crime of the third degree if the actor purposely or knowingly causes pecuniary loss of $2,000.00 or more. (2) Criminal mischief is a crime of the fourth degree if the actor causes pecuniary loss in excess of $500.00 but less than $2000.00. It is a disorderly persons offense if the actor causes pecuniary loss of $500.00 or less. To help understand the statute we have provided you with a chart for degree of crimes as they pertain to criminal mischief charges in New Jersey listed below.

What is the Punishment for Criminal Mischief in New Jersey?

Criminal mischief can be charged as a disorderly persons offense or a fourth, third, or second degree indictable offense, depending on the value of the property damaged and certain other factors that may be involved.

Disorderly Persons Offense If damage to the property is under $500 or if the damage is considered nominal and cannot be determined
Fourth Degree If the damage exceeds $500 but is less than $2,000 or if public gas, oil, water lines, or telephone wires are tampered with
Third Degree If the damage to the property is $2,000 or more
Second Degree If public services were tampered with and the damage or interruption of the services caused a death


Why is Criminal Mischief Considered Domestic Violence?

If you purposely damage the property of your spouse or significant other, even if the property is jointly-owned by both of you, you can be charged with criminal mischief, which is a predicate act of domestic violence that can give rise to a restraining order. A predicate act in a domestic violence means any offense that can form the basis of a need for a restraining order to protect the plaintiff.

You commit the crime of criminal mischief, if you purposely or knowingly damage someone else’s property or if through the use of fire, explosives, or some other dangerous means, you recklessly or negligently damage someone’s property. You can also be found guilty of this offense if you purposely, knowingly, or recklessly tamper with someone else’s property in a way that creates danger to a person or property. So, if you damage your spouse or significant other’s phone by throwing it at the wall, knock a vase off the table in anger, punch your fist into a wall, toss their personal property out the window, or otherwise damage their tangible property in the heat of an argument or in revenge for some wrong you believe they committed against you, all of these actions may constitute criminal mischief. Even if you live together and you break an item that belongs to both of you, New Jersey law will recognize this as your joint property, against which you are capable of committing a property crime like criminal mischief.

Your spouse or significant other may use this incident as a basis for filing for a temporary restraining order, as these actions constitute a predicate act of domestic violence under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. In addition to having a restraining order issued against you, you can also face criminal charges for this offense.

Criminal Mischief Lawyer in North Bergen NJ

Under most circumstances, even a criminal mischief disorderly persons offense should not be taken lightly because an angry victim can often make these cases very complicated and the prosecutor not willing to simply downgrade or dismiss the charge which can easily lead to a criminal record. Because of the nature of this crime, it is common for our firm to represent clients for ancillary charges in connection with criminal mischief such as Burglary and Defiant Trespass because they have similar elements. Our attorneys have handled thousands of criminal and municipal court cases over the years, including numerous criminal mischief charges. We represent clients throughout Hudson County including Jersey City, Harrison, Guttenberg, Hoboken, and West New York.  We are nearly always able to work out a negotiated plea in criminal mischief cases that do not result in a criminal conviction for our client. If you are interested in our firm helping you with your case, an experienced criminal mischief defense lawyer is happy to speak with you during a free consultation so give us a call at (201) 793-8018.