The Pennsylvania Criminal Code defines a number of crimes involving damaging another’s property.  One such crime is Criminal Mischief.  If you have been charged with Criminal Mischief, it is likely that you have been charged with other crimes like underage drinking, Disorderly Conduct, or public drunkenness.  This crime does not involve any harm or threat of harm to another person, it is all about damaging property.

Examples of Criminal Mischief

Examples of Criminal Mischief are easy to create.  Take a college student who is under the age of 21.  He heads out on a Friday night to a fraternity house and has too much to drink.  He and his buddies decide to head over to campus with a can of paint and deface one of the college statues.  While painting, the community police appear and arrest the college students.  Our original college student will likely be charged with Criminal Mischief, as well as underage drinking.

You can expect to be charged with Criminal Mischief if you:

  • Use fire or explosives to damage tangible property;
  • Endanger another person or property by tampering with property;
  • Cause monetary loss;
  • Deface property with graffiti;
  • Simply damage real or personal property of another person; or
  • Deface property with a paintball gun.

Some of the listed offenses above require you to intend to cause the damage.  Some only require you to be negligent or reckless.  That means that your charges may be easier for the District Attorney to prove.

Possible Defenses Against Criminal Mischief

For the types of Criminal Mischief listed above that require “intent” to cause damage, that is where you defense starts.  If the District Attorney is unable to prove that you intended to cause property damage, then it becomes much more difficult to find you guilty.  You may also be able to prove that you were not at the scene of the property damage.  This may require an alibi.

Sentencing and Punishment for Criminal Mischief

If you are found guilty of Criminal Mischief, you may be sentenced to a Felony, a Misdemeanor, or a Summary Offense.  It all depends on the price of the property you damaged.  Regardless, you are looking at jail time and fines.  Your sentence may also depend on what you used to damage the property.  For example, if you damage property with graffiti, your sentence may be less than other types of Criminal Mischief.  Another possible punishment to consider is called restitution.  The court may order you to pay for the damage you caused in addition to jail time and fines.

What Should I Do if Charged with Criminal Mischief?

If you have been charged with Criminal Mischief in Pittsburgh, Beaver, Butler, Westmoreland County, Washington, Oakland, or elsewhere in Western Pennsylvania give me office a call as soon as possible.  Some of the defenses for Criminal Mischief start early in the process and if you fail to raise them, you waive them forever.  A good defense may take time to find the property, review video, estimate the damage, request the information from the District Attorney, and round up your alibi witnesses.  Contact us today.