Vandalism Attorney New Jersey
Have you been arrested for vandalism in New Jersey? Do not take these charges lightly. A conviction could lead to thousands of dollars in fines or even jail time. Consulting a criminal defense attorney can help you understand New Jersey’s vandalism laws and the penalties you could face if you are found guilty.
At William Proetta Criminal Law, our attorneys have the resources and experience to deliver outstanding results under the most challenging circumstances. Let us help set the record straight for you. Contact us now for a free consultation.
How New Jersey Law Defines Vandalism
New Jersey law refers to vandalism as criminal mischief. N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3 defines criminal mischief as an offense that involves one or more of the following:
- Purposely or knowingly damaging the material property of another person
- Recklessly or negligently damaging the material property of another while handling fire, explosives, or harmful substances
- Purposely, knowingly, or recklessly tampering with the material property of another person in a way that endangers other people or property, including damaging or destroying a rental property as retaliation for an eviction
Types of Vandalism
People may think of vandalism as a low-level offense, but it can have serious consequences when it is frequent, extensive, or malicious. Common examples of actions that qualify as vandalism in New Jersey include:
- Drawing graffiti with spray paint or markers
- Etching or corroding surfaces with acids
- Carving initials or images into wood surfaces
- Smashing lights, windows, and glass fixtures
- Removing or damaging signs or decorations
- Defacing homes, vehicles, or other property
- Destroying private or public property intentionally
- Throwing eggs, fruit, and other food at buildings
- Starting fires or explosions deliberately
- Slashing car tires and keying (scratching) paint
- Knocking over items like mailboxes or headstones
- Flooding homes by intentionally clogging pipes
- Pulling up flowers and other plants by the roots
- Toilet-papering trees and salting green lawns
- Ransacking or looting during civil disturbances
Penalties for Vandalism in NJ
Vandalism or criminal mischief is prosecuted as a disorderly persons offense if the cost of the damage is $500 or less. Disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey are roughly equivalent to misdemeanor offenses in most other states. If you are convicted of a disorderly persons offense for vandalism, you could face up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.
Penalties for Felony Criminal Mischief
If an act of vandalism results in more than $500 in damage or meets other criteria, it may be prosecuted as an indictable crime in New Jersey, which is similar to a felony offense in other states. New Jersey courts recognize four levels of indictable crimes, ranging from first-degree (the most serious) to fourth-degree crimes.
New Jersey typically prosecutes the following acts of vandalism and criminal mischief as fourth-degree indictable crimes, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and $10,000 in fines:
- Causing property damage that costs more than $500 but less than $2,000
- Damaging, removing, or impairing the operation of any device or equipment used to regulate or ensure the safety of the air traffic at any aviation facility
- Interfering or tampering with the property at any airport or aviation facility
- Purposely or knowingly breaking, digging up, obstructing, or tampering with any pipes or mains used to supply properties with gas, water, or other utilities
- Purposely or knowingly damaging, cutting, or tampering with electric cables, poles, or related materials used for lighting or communication in others’ properties
Third-degree indictable crimes for vandalism and criminal mischief are punishable by three to five years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines. They include:
- Purposely or knowingly causing property damage that costs more than $2,000
- Damaging, defacing, eradicating, altering, receiving, releasing, or causing the loss of any of the research property used by a research facility
- Causing a physical disruption to the functioning of a research facility
- Damaging, removing, or impairing the operation of any device or equipment used to regulate or ensure the safety of the air traffic at any aviation facility in a way that results in bodily injury or property damage
- Interfering or tampering with the property at any airport or aviation facility in a way that results in bodily injury or property damage
- Tampering with a grave, crypt, mausoleum, or other burial site in which human remains are interred for desecration, destruction, or theft
- Purposely or knowingly causing a substantial interruption or impairment in public communication, transportation, utilities, or other public service
The most severe acts of vandalism under New Jersey law are prosecuted as second-degree indictable crimes. Penalties may include five to ten years in prison and up to $150,000 in fines. Examples include:
- Damaging, removing, or impairing the operation of any device or equipment used to regulate or ensure the safety of air traffic at any aviation facility in a way that results in the death of a person
- Interfering or tampering with the property at any airport or aviation facility in a way that results in the death of a person
- Purposely or knowingly causing a substantial interruption or impairment in public communication, transportation, utilities, or other public services in a way that results in the death of a person
In addition to the standard penalties for criminal mischief in New Jersey, a convicted party could be subject to other consequences, such as payment for the destruction of property and restoration costs.
How Can a Vandalism Defense Lawyer in New Jersey Help Me?
If you face vandalism charges in New Jersey, get in touch with William Proetta Criminal Law immediately. Prosecutors have a job to do — and that is to secure a conviction. As defense lawyers, we work hard to ensure that you get fair treatment by the justice system. Our NJ vandalism attorneys will identify the best defense in your case and argue for the best possible outcome for you.
Want to know how to beat criminal mischief charges? Find out today in a free case review. Call or contact us now.