Criminal mischief is more than just the infamous night of pranking that happens every year on Mischief Night. In Tampa, police arrest hundreds of people year-round for defacing or damaging property throughout the city. Being detained for criminal mischief can carry consequences that can affect you for the rest of your life.
Florida law regarding criminal mischief is complex. Many different actions fall under this umbrella and your best chances for fighting the charges lie with a qualified criminal defense attorney. If you’re looking at this article and need a lawyer, you’ve come to the right place.
The Law Place has over 75 years of combined experience as criminal defense attorneys representing clients all over the State of Florida in various practice areas. Our law firm offers an exceptional attorney-client relationship with a proven record of excellence in the courtroom. If you have been charged with criminal mischief, The Law Place can provide the best criminal defense representation on the market.
Contact The Law Place today. Our representatives are waiting for your call.
Call us now at (941) 444-4444.
Florida Criminal Mischief Legal Definition
According to Florida Statutes 806.13, criminal mischief can be defined as the intentional destruction or defacement of private or public property. If you willfully and knowingly cause damage to someone else’s property you can be arrested and charged with criminal mischief.
While most often this is prosecuted as a misdemeanor in either the first or second degree, certain circumstances call for third-degree felony charges. There are serious penalties associated with this type of crime, so you need to be prepared for the worst.
If you have been charged with criminal mischief, you need to contact an attorney to represent your interests. Police will try to get you to admit wrongdoing in their attempts to collect evidence against you. Remain silent at all times, and only give them your relevant personal information like name and address. If you have not yet been arrested for a crime, do not give them any information at all.
The Law Place is here to help when you need us most. Contact us to find out how we can start strategizing for your defense immediately. Our Tampa representatives will promptly reply and explain how our services will work going forward.
For a free legal consultation with a criminal mischief lawyer serving Tampa, call 941-444-4444
Difference Between Misdemeanor and Felony Criminal Mischief in Tampa, Florida
There are varying degrees of severity for criminal mischief cases. They can be charged as first or second-degree misdemeanors or a third-degree felony. The punishment depends on the amount of property damage that was inflicted and onto whom or what it was inflicted upon.
The prosecution considers the following factors to determine how to charge individuals with criminal mischief:
- Damage to the property less than $200.
- Damage to the property was more than $200 and less than $1,000.
- Damage to the property was more than $1,000.
- The destruction caused the property to cease any services normally rendered for any amount of time.
- The destruction disrupted or damaged any public utilities like the water, gas, or power supply and it requires more than $1,000 in labor and repair costs to fix.
- The defendant has a previous criminal mischief conviction on their record.
- The damage to the property was worth more than $200 and directed towards any place of worship or any religious item housed inside (churches, synagogues, mosques).
- The destruction resulted in the disruption of public communications systems or public telephone services.
- The damage to the property was worth more than $200 and directed towards any violent sexual predator detention facility.
Although there are more criteria for being charged with a third-degree felony, a majority of these types of cases are charged as first-degree or second-degree misdemeanors.
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Penalties for Criminal Mischief in Tampa, Florida
The fines and potential jail or prison time that results from a criminal mischief conviction depend on what type of charges the defendant faced. Misdemeanors will have lesser penalties, while a felony may result in extremely serious consequences. Florida Statutes 775.082, 775.083, and 775.084 lists these as:
- Maximum of 60 days in jail.
- Maximum of $500 in fines.
- Maximum of 1 year in jail.
- Maximum of $1,000 in fines.
- Maximum 5 years in prison.
- Maximum $10,000 in fines.
Florida law also states that there are separate fines specific to criminal mischief offenses. These are:
- Minimum of $250 for a first conviction.
- Minimum of $500 for a second conviction.
- Minimum of $1,000 for a third or subsequent conviction.
In addition to all of the above-mentioned penalties, offenders may be forced to pay for any property damage they caused. This can add thousands of dollars to any sentence they are handed by the court.
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Common Examples of Criminal Mischief in Tampa, Florida
Criminal mischief takes on many forms, but some common examples are:
- Graffiti on structures, vehicles, and all types of property without permission.
- Contaminating a computer or computer system with a virus.
- Damaging a fire hydrant.
- Damaging or removing public signage.
- Defacing or damaging an emergency exit, emergency exit signage, or fire alarm.
- Damaging or defacing a tombstone or other type of gravesite.
- Defacing or damaging property with foreign materials.
These represent only a few of the potential offenses that fall under criminal mischief. It is not commonly understood that defacing or damaging digital property like computers, computer networks, or digital files can be charged as criminal mischief, but Florida law is creating a precedent to include these crimes under those legal statutes.
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Can a Tampa Criminal Mischief Charge Be Expunged?
Unfortunately, no criminal convictions can be expunged in the State of Florida. Although many people assume this only applies to felonies, criminal misdemeanors cannot be expunged either. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony mischief, you cannot have that record expunged and it will stay with you for life.
However, Florida Statute 943.0585 states that most arrest records can be expunged if the charges did not result in a conviction. If you go to trial for criminal mischief and are found not guilty, or if the charges against you were dropped or dismissed, you can have the arrest record erased.
Contact us if you have any questions regarding the process of criminal record expungement. We can help you process all of the paperwork required and get an arrest record expunged within 7 months on average. This will help if you ever go through a criminal background check for a job interview or for taking out a loan like a mortgage from the bank.
What Can a Tampa Criminal Mischief Attorney Do for Me?
A criminal defense lawyer from The Law Place can defend you from these types of charges in several ways. Although every case is unique, a lawyer will examine the following ways to potentially have the charges dismissed or convince a jury of a not-guilty verdict:
- Your actions did not result in the property damage in question.
- The property is not actually owned by the alleged victim.
- Your actions that destroyed or defaced property were not intentional or malicious.
- The amount of property damage the alleged victim claims is false or overstated.
- The amount of property damage the alleged victim claims was not due to your actions.
- An altercation between yourself and the alleged victim resulted in the property damage unintentionally.
- You were legally justified to commit the destruction of property.
- You were acting in self-defense or the self-defense of another person when the destruction of property occurred.
- There was no public signage of the penalties for defacing an antenna or public communications array.
A representative from The Law Place can explain how a lawyer can defend you in detail. Contact our Tampa office today to start preparing your criminal defense.
Contact The Law Place Tampa, Florida Criminal Mischief Law Firm Today!
Have you or a loved one been charged with misdemeanor or felony criminal mischief in Tampa, Florida? Were you unaware of the consequences or did you commit the act unintentionally?
Contact us today to find out your options. Florida law for criminal mischief is complex. It is in your best interest to enlist the aid of a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to start preparing for your trial or to try to get the charges dismissed. Our law firm offers a free consultation with a lawyer to go over the details of your case and to explain how our representation will benefit you. The Law Place attorneys have over 75 years of combined experience and work together on every case across all practice areas, meaning the entire law firm has your back.
Don’t hesitate to contact our Tampa office today. If you are not based in Tampa, we have offices all over the State of Florida to best serve you. Our representatives are ready and waiting for your call 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.
Call The Law Place criminal defense attorneys now at (941) 444-4444.
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