There is a wide range of situations that can end with a person facing criminal mischief charges. It is one of the most common crimes in Pennsylvania, and it is often just one of multiple offenses a person might be charged with after a single incident.
However, while it is common and may not be the most severe charge a person faces, criminal mischief allegations should be taken seriously. And that starts with understanding what it means and what the penalties could look like.
What is criminal mischief?
Criminal mischief can include six actions per state laws that define criminal mischief. These include:
- Using fire or other dangerous material to damage tangible property
- Tampering with property to hurt someone
- Using threats or deception to cause someone to suffer monetary losses
- Defacing property with graffiti
- Intentionally causing damage to someone’s property
- Using a paintball gun or marker to deface property
Considering all the actions that the law defines as “criminal mischief,” countless events could result in a charge. A teen creating graffiti could wind up facing the same charge as an adult who crashes their car through someone’s house.
Because of this and the fact that criminal mischief is typically one of several allegations a person faces, the potential penalties can be wide-ranging, as well.
Generally, the more damage a person causes with their actions, the more severe a criminal mischief conviction and penalties can be.
- If there is little or no financial loss, it can be a summary offense resulting in only a fine.
- Losses of over $150 can result in six months to one year in prison and up to $2,500 in fines for a third-degree misdemeanor.
- Losses of over $1,000 can result in one to two years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines for a second-degree misdemeanor.
- Losses of over $5,000 or disruption of a public service can result in up to seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines for a third-degree misdemeanor.
Thus, avoiding harsh penalties for criminal mischief can involve defending against the misconduct altogether or seeking reduced charges.
Under these circumstances, legal counsel can be essential. Whether you are facing charges or your child is, you can call 814-833-2222 for a free consultation to discuss your options and possible defenses with an attorney at the Quinn Law Firm.