Criminal Mischief in Florida
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Criminal mischief is willful and malicious causing of injury or damage to the real property or personal property of another. Injury or damage to property can include acts of graffiti, vandalism, sabotage, defacement, breakage, or other destructive acts. Criminal mischief is a general intent crime in Florida.
Proving Criminal Mischief in Florida
The State Prosecutor must establish the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to prove criminal mischief at trial:
- The defendant injured or damaged real or personal property;
- The property belonged to the alleged victim;
- The injury or damage was done willfully and maliciously.
What is “Willfully and Maliciously?”
“Willfully” means intentionally, knowingly, and purposely. “Maliciously” means wrongfully, intentionally, without legal justification or excuse, and with the knowledge that injury or damage may be caused to another person or the property of another person.
What is General Intent?
The defendant does not have to specifically set out to cause damage to property. If the act is done with knowledge that damage may be caused to persons or property it is sufficient to sustain a conviction.
Damage is Required to Sustain a Conviction for Criminal Mischief in Florida
Injury or damage to property is a required element of criminal mischief. The charge must be dismissed where there is no evidence of damage to the property at issue.
Penalties for Criminal Mischief
The penalty for criminal mischief varies according to the value of the damaged property.
- Property damage $200 or less is a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to sixty (60) days in jail.
- Property damage over $200 but less than $1,000 is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one (1) year in jail.
- Property damage exceeding $1,000 is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five (5) years imprisonment.
Criminal Mischief Defenses in Florida
Common defenses to criminal mischief include damage not a result of act, victim is not true owner of the property, act not willful, damage was accidental, justification of action which caused the damage, action was not wrongful, action was necessary in self defense, defense of others or defense of property and action was necessary.
Early Negotiation is Critical in a Possession of Weapon Defense in Florida
Early contact in the criminal process communicates competence, resolve, and establishes a rapport that may be needed during future negotiations.
Call us even before you are charged if possible. We may be able to avoid charges being filed.
We will make early contact with the prosecutor to present factual defenses, legal issues, and mitigating circumstances that may have a dramatic impact on the State’s decision to move forward against you.
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We are Miami Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach criminal defense lawyers. We represent clients who have been charged with criminal mischief in Florida.
We represent clients facing criminal mischief in Broward County, Miami Dade County, and Palm Beach County.
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Our Florida criminal lawyers serve clients charged with criminal mischief in Florida in Palm Beach County, Broward County, Miami Dade County, and most other Florida cities and counties.
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