Criminal Mischief, commonly referred to as vandalism, can result in an embarrassing arrest and potential lifelong consequences to your personal and professional life. Most people don’t realize that a Criminal Mischief charge can result in a felony conviction that will stay on your record forever.
If you or a loved one has been arrested in Fort Walton Beach for criminal mischief, your best chance is to call a misdemeanor defense attorney who has experience defending these types of crimes. Call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 243-6097 to schedule your free consultation to see how we can help you favorably resolve your criminal mischief case.
What is Criminal Mischief under Florida law?
A person commits the offense of criminal mischief if he or she willfully and maliciously injures or damages property belonging to someone else, including, but not limited to, the placement of graffiti or other acts of vandalism.
Common examples of criminal mischief in Fort Walton Beach include:
- Keying of a car
- Slashing of tires
- Destruction of landscaping
- Destruction of mailboxes
- Destruction of public property
- Breaking windows
Is Criminal Mischief a misdemeanor or felony?
Depending on the value of the property damaged, criminal mischief can either be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. The penalties for criminal mischief vary according to the monetary amount of damage caused.
- If the property damage is valued at $200 or less, the person commits a second degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail.
- If the property damage is greater than $200 but less than $1,000, the offense is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail.
- If the property damage exceeds $1,000, the offense is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
How can the state attorney prove that I am guilty of Criminal Mischief?
To be convicted of criminal mischief in Fort Walton Beach, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant:
- Injured or damaged real or personal property;
- The property injured or damaged belonged to the alleged victim; and
- The injury or damage was done willfully and maliciously.
The term “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.
Will I have to pay restitution?
In most situations, victims of criminal mischief are angry that their property has been damaged or destroyed and will be seeking restitution for the damages they incurred. The court will likely schedule what is called a Restitution Hearing in order to determine the exact amount of the damage that you are responsible for. In certain cases, restitution can be the single thing that makes or breaks a deal to resolve the case.
With restitution being such a critical aspect of a criminal mischief case, it is important that you consult with attorneys with experience in handling these complex hearings. We will look over every detail of your case, calculate the correct amount of damage and ensure that what the alleged victim is requesting is not excessive.
Contact a Fort Walton Beach Criminal Mischief Attorney
We are proud to defend local residents, military members, and visitors who have been charged with Criminal Mischief in Fort Walton Beach. Call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 243-6097 for a free, confidential consultation.