Mount Olive Criminal Mischief Lawyer
Criminal Defense Attorneys in Morris County, New Jersey
Criminal mischief involves damaging the property of another intentionally. Even though Criminal Mischief has a somewhat innocuous connotation, it is a serious crime in New Jersey. Without proper legal representation, you or your loved one could be facing serious jail time and fines for a criminal mischief conviction.
The Tormey Law Firm is an experienced group of criminal defense lawyers who have extensive experience representing clients charged with criminal offenses, including criminal mischief, carjacking, and trespassing throughout Morris County and New Jersey, including in Randolph, Boonton, Dover, Denville, Parsippany, and Morristown. In fact, Travis Tormey, our managing partner, was recognized as one of the 10 best criminal lawyers in the State of NJ by the American Jurist Institute.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a criminal mischief or another offense in Morris County, contact the Tormey Law Firm anytime at (908) 336-5008 for immediate assistance and a free consultation.
Criminal Mischief in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3
A criminal mischief charge in New Jersey is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3, which provides in pertinent part:
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.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 $ 2000.00. 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.
Consequences of Criminal Mischief in New Jersey
Criminal mischief in New Jersey can be graded as a third degree, fourth degree, or disorderly persons offense, depending on the amount of damage caused. The grading is as follows:
|Criminal Mischief||Amount of Damage||Possible Sentence|
|Disorderly Persons Offense||
Criminal Mischief Charges – Possible Resolutions to Your Case
A criminal mischief charge hinges on the amount of the alleged damage done. Even some felony cases are downgraded back to municipal court as disorderly persons offenses because the amount of the damage done is technically in the felony range but the prosecutor’s office decides not to pursue the case as the indictable (felony) level. In addition, one potential defense is that the property is yours. We have had some clients who break things in their own home and are charged with criminal mischief by the police. However, damaging your own property is not a crime and can sometimes result in the dismissal of these charges.
In addition, if you have no prior criminal history, you will be eligible for a first offender program on this type of charge. For felony charges, the first offender program is known as Pre-Trial Intervention or PTI. You will be placed on probation and, when you successfully complete the probation and pay restitution for the damage to the property, the charges against you will be dismissed.
In Municipal Court, for disorderly persons criminal mischief charges, the diversionary first offender program is known as a conditional dismissal. Again, when you complete the 1 year probation and the restitution is paid in full, the charges will be dropped by the State. You can only use these programs one time in your life. If you have used one previously on other charges, you are not eligible again.
Call our Morristown Criminal Mischief Lawyers Today
As you can see, criminal mischief charges in NJ are very serious. As a result, it is imperative that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer for immediate assistance. Here at the Tormey Law Firm, we care about our clients. We understand the stress and fear that a person charged with a crime experiences. Our skilled attorneys will guide you through the New Jersey criminal justice system and zealously represent you. Contact the Tormey Law Firm anytime at (908) 336-5008 for a free consultation about your case.