Damaging, defacing, or tampering another party's property in Pennsylvania can result in a person being arrested for criminal mischief. While the term mischief does not sound serious, the possible consequences if an alleged offender is convicted of this crime most definitely are.
These charges often result from acts of vandalism, but some cases may stem from domestic disputes or other confrontations. Whether an alleged offender's actions were the result of an emotional outburst, a poor choice made while under the influence, or a foolish prank, prosecutors will look to obtain a judgment that carries significant penalties.
Philadelphia Criminal Mischief Lawyer
If you have been arrested for vandalizing or damaging another party's property, you will want to make sure that you are being represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney. Joseph Lento has nearly a decade of experience fighting to defend Pennsylvanians charged with property offenses.
Lento Law Firm represents clients all over the greater Philadelphia County are, including surrounding communities in Pennsylvania. You can have our firm review your case during a free legal consultation when you call (215) 535-5353 today.
Philadelphia County Criminal Mischief / Vandalism Information Center
- How might a person be charged for this crime?
- What are the possible punishments an alleged offender faces if convicted?
- Are there any defenses against these charges?
Pennsylvania Criminal Mischief / Vandalism Charges
Under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 § 3304, criminal mischief is defined as an alleged offender doing any of the following:
- Damaging tangible property of another intentionally, recklessly, or by negligence in the employment of fire, explosives, or other dangerous means relating to causing or risking catastrophe
- Intentionally or recklessly tampering with tangible property of another so as to endanger person or property
- Intentionally or recklessly causing another to suffer pecuniary loss by deception or threat
- Intentionally defacing or otherwise damaging tangible public property or tangible property of another with graffiti by use of any aerosol spray-paint can, broad-tipped indelible marker or similar marking device
- Intentionally damaging real or personal property of another
- Intentionally defacing personal, private or public property by discharging a paintball gun or paintball marker at that property
If an alleged offender's actions cause pecuniary loss of $500 or less or a loss of $150 or less for graffiti by use of any aerosol spray-paint can, broad-tipped indelible marker or similar marking device, this crime is classified as a summary offense. If the pecuniary loss is more than $500 or more than $150 for graffiti by use of any aerosol spray-paint can, broad-tipped indelible marker or similar marking device, this is a third-degree misdemeanor. This is a second-degree misdemeanor if pecuniary loss exceeds $1,000, and it is a third-degree felony if pecuniary loss exceeds $5,000 or the alleged offender causes a substantial interruption or impairment of public communication, transportation, supply of water, gas or power, or other public service.
Criminal Mischief / Vandalism Penalties in Philadelphia
The classification of the crime an alleged offender is charged with depends on the amount of alleged property damage he or she caused. A person could possibly face the following punishments if convicted:
- Summary Offense — Maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and maximum fine of $300
- Third-Degree Misdemeanor — Maximum sentence of one year in jail and maximum fine of $2,500
- Second-Degree Misdemeanor — Maximum sentence of two years in jail and maximum fine of $5,000
- Third-Degree Felony — Maximum sentence of seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines
Defenses Against Criminal Mischief / Vandalism in Pennsylvania
It is important to remember that a prosecutor has the burden of proving an alleged offender's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. There could be multiple weaknesses in the prosecutor's case that are exposed through one of several defenses that may include, but are not limited to, any of the following:
- Actions of alleged offender were necessary to protect himself, herself, or other people
- Alleged offender is join owner of property
- Alleged victim is not owner of property
- Lack of evidence
- Mistaken identity
- No intentional or reckless criminal intent
Find the Best Vandalism Lawyer in Philadelphia
Were you recently charged with criminal mischief in Pennsylvania? Make sure that you will be represented by a skilled criminal defense attorney who will fight for the most favorable outcome to your case.
Joseph Lento of Lento Law Firm has nearly a decade of experience helping clients in Philadelphia County and many other nearby locations in Pennsylvania. He will give you an honest and thorough evaluation of your case when you call (215) 535-5353 to arrange a free legal consultation.