Property damage is the central focus of offenses classified as criminal mischief in the state of New York. Individuals that are found guilty of damaging the property of another entity could be eligible for punishment under New York Penal Law 145. Another term that is used to define criminal mischief is vandalism, and it’s classified in four different degrees. The least severe cases of criminal mischief fall under the fourth degree and may include the following acts:
A. Purposely causing any amount of physical damage to the property of another person.
B. Taking part in an act of vandalism in regards to an abandoned building.
C. Causing damage to the property of another person, by an act of recklessness, in an amount that exceeds $250.
There is a small party at the home of an individual named George. Toward the end of the night, an intoxicated party-goer blindly throws an empty glass bottle in the direction of a trash can. It misses the receptacle and breaks through a nearby window, causing it to shatter. Under these circumstances, the guest that threw the bottle could be prosecuted for criminal mischief in the fourth degree due to reckless behavior. Although the original intention may not have been to cause damage to the window, the careless actions are punishable by law.
A group of teenagers decide to vandalize an abandoned building by busting out the windows and spray painting graffiti on the walls. Although there may not be a clear owner to the property in question, the actions are punishable by New York law. Each participant could face a charge of criminal mischief, with varying penalties dependent on the severity of the intentional destruction.
Penalties Under New York Penal Law 145
An individual that is found guilty of criminal mischief in the fourth degree could face a class A misdemeanor charge. The conviction may include up to a full year in jail, up to 3 years of probation, restitution payments, and the payment of an initial fine. Punishment in these cases often depends on the value of damage and an evaluation of the unique circumstances of the crime.
Defenses to Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree
A criminal mischief charge requires proof that there was an intentional or reckless action that caused the property damage to occur. The best defense against criminal mischief in the fourth degree relies on the belief that the actions were accidental, rather than reckless or intentionally destructive. A defendant that caused accidental damage would not technically meet the basic legal requirements for the charges of criminal mischief. Every case is different, and an experienced attorney is the best resource in constructing a defense against the criminal mischief charges.
Get in Touch With a Caring NYC Criminal Lawyer
Our team of lawyers urge anyone facing charges of criminal mischief in the fourth degree to get help as soon as possible. Although misdemeanor charges aren’t as severe as a felony conviction, it’s essential to have a reliable attorney on your side preparing the absolute best defense. Regardless of the mistakes you have made in the past, we are dedicated to reducing the impact that such actions could have on your future. Not only do we offer judgement-free representation, but we’ll work tirelessly toward the goal of having charges reduced or dismissed to the best of our ability.