Criminal Mischief

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Monmouth Beach NJ Criminal Mischief Defense Lawyers

Criminal Mischief is a serious offense in New Jersey that involves the reckless or purposeful damage of property, with the degree of the charges contingent upon two factors: the specific nature of the property that was damaged and the amount of pecuniary loss associated with said damage (meaning the assessed value of property damage incurred as a result of the offense). With charges ranging from disorderly persons offenses to those classified as second degree felony crimes, it is essential to understand the nature and the extent of the charges you are facing and to enlist the services of an experienced defense attorney who can mount a successful case for your defense.

Depending on the degree of the charges, an individual found guilty of criminal mischief may be sentenced to serve 30 days in the county jail for a disorderly persons offense, or up to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison for a second degree crime. Regardless, a conviction for criminal mischief results in a charge on your criminal record and may also lead to significant fines, known as restitution payments, to compensate for the financial loss associated with the property damage. Notably, some individuals may also be required to perform community service if their criminal mischief offense involves graffiti. 

The attorneys at Chamlin, Rosen, Uliano & Witherington have represented numerous clients facing charges for criminal mischief with degrees of severity that span the legal spectrum. We are equipped with the knowledge and resources necessary to combat the charges against you or someone you love and are readily available to provide assistance. Contact our West Long Branch office today at 732-440-3950 to speak with one of the trusted lawyers at our firm.

Criminal Mischief in Monmouth County: N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3

N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3 of the New Jersey Criminal Code details the variety of circumstances that may warrant a charge for criminal mischief. The statute sets forth:

a. 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.A. 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 $2,000.00. It is a disorderly persons offense if the actor causes pecuniary loss of $500.00 or less.

(3) Criminal mischief is a crime of the third degree if the actor damages, defaces, eradicates, alters, receives, releases or causes the loss of any research property used by the research facility, or otherwise causes physical disruption to the functioning of the research facility. The term ‘physical disruption” does not include any lawful activity that results from public, governmental, or research facility employee reaction to the disclosure of information about the research facility.

(4) Criminal mischief is a crime of the fourth degree if the actor damages, removes or impairs the operation of any device, including, but not limited to, a sign, signal, light or other equipment, which serves to regulate or ensure the safety of air traffic at any airport, landing field, landing strip, heliport, helistop or any other aviation facility; however, if the damage, removal or impediment of the device recklessly causes bodily injury or damage to property, the actor is guilty of a crime of the third degree, or if it recklessly causes a death, the actor is guilty of a crime of the second degree.

(5) Criminal mischief is a crime of the fourth degree if the actor interferes or tampers with any airport, landing field, landing strip, heliport, helistop or any other aviation facility; however if the interference or tampering with the airport, landing field, landing strip, heliport, helistop or other aviation facility recklessly causes bodily injury or damage to property, the actor is guilty of a crime of the third degree, or if it recklessly causes a death, the actor is guilty of a crime of the second degree.

(6) Criminal mischief is a crime of the third degree if the actor tampers with a grave, crypt, mausoleum or other site where human remains are stored or interred, with the purpose to desecrate, destroy or steal such human remains or any part thereof.

(7) Criminal mischief is a crime of the third degree if the actor purposely or knowingly causes a substantial interruption or impairment of public communication, transportation, supply of water, oil, gas or power, or other public service. Criminal mischief is a crime of the second degree if the substantial interruption or impairment recklessly causes death.

(8) Criminal mischief is a crime of the fourth degree if the actor purposely or knowingly breaks, digs up, obstructs or otherwise tampers with any pipes or mains for conducting gas, oil or water, or any works erected for supplying buildings with gas, oil or water, or any appurtenances or appendages therewith connected, or injures, cuts, breaks down, destroys or otherwise tampers with any electric light wires, poles or appurtenances, or any telephone, telecommunications, cable television or telegraph wires, lines, cable or appurtenances.

c. A person convicted of an offense of criminal mischief that involves an act of graffiti may, in addition to any other penalty imposed by the court, be required to pay to the owner of the damaged property monetary restitution in the amount of the pecuniary damage caused by the act of graffiti and to perform community service, which shall include removing the graffiti from the property, if appropriate. If community service is ordered, it shall be for either not less than 20 days or not less than the number of days necessary to remove the graffiti from the property.

Penalties for Criminal Mischief in New Jersey

Criminal Mischief as a Disorderly Persons Offense (damage amounting to $500 or less): maximum sentence of 6 months to be served in the county jail

Criminal Mischief as a Fourth Degree Crime (damage valued between $500 and $2,000): maximum sentence of 18 months to be served in New Jersey State Prison 

Criminal Mischief as a Third Degree Crime (damage amounting to $2,000 or more): term of incarceration ranging from 3 to 5 years in New Jersey State Prison 

Criminal Mischief as  Second Degree Crime (offense recklessly causes a death): term of incarceration ranging from 5 to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison 

NOTE: Penalties may also include restitution payments and a minimum of 20 days of community service. 

Contact Hazlet NJ Criminal Mischief Lawyers for Help with Your Case

To learn more about how our Monmouth County criminal mischief defense lawyers can protect the interests of you or someone you love, contact our West Long Branch office at 732-440-3950 for immediate assistance.

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Chamlin, Rosen, Uliano & Witherington of West Long Branch, New Jersey, provides representation throughout Monmouth County including Asbury Park, Belmar, Colts Neck, Deal, Eatontown, Freehold, Hazlet, Holmdel, Howell, Lake Como, Long Branch, Manalapan, Manasquan, Marlboro Township, Middletown, Neptune, Oakhurst, Ocean Township, Redbank, Shrewsbury, Spring Lake, Tinton Falls, Wall Township, West Long Branch, and Freehold Township; Ocean County including Bayville, Brick, Jackson, Lakewood, Lakewood Township, Mantoloking, Point Pleasant, Point Pleasant Beach, and Toms River; Middlesex County including East Brunswick, Milltown, New Brunswick, Old Bridge Township, Perth Amboy, Sayreville, South Amboy, South River, and Spotswood.

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