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Belmar Criminal Mischief Lawyers

The offense of Criminal Mischief in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C: 17-3 is charged when someone damages the property of another. A person is guilty if he:

  1. Purposely or knowingly damages tangible property of another or damages tangible property of another recklessly or negligently in the employment of fire, explosives or other dangerous means listed in subsection a. of N.J.S. 2C:17-2; or
  2. Purposely, knowingly or recklessly tampers with tangible property of another so as to endanger person or property.

Criminal mischief is graded based not only on the on the pecuniary loss to property but also based on the nature of the property.

  • It is a third degree crime if the actor purposely or knowingly causes pecuniary loss of $2,000.00 or more, or causes a substantial interruption or impairment of public communication, transportation, supply of water, gas or power, or other public service.
  • It is also a third degree crime if the charges arise out of damages and loss to a research property used by a research facility, or from physical disruption to the functioning of a research facility.
  • It is also a crime of the third degree if the actor tampers with a grave or other site where human remains are stored with the purpose to desecrate, destroy or steal such human remains.
  • Criminal Mischief is a fourth degree crime if the loss is in excess of $500 OR if the actor damages, removes or impairs the operation of any device, including, but not limited to, a sign, signal other equipment, which serves to regulate or ensure the safety of air traffic at any airport or other aviation facility; however, if the damage or removal of the device recklessly causes bodily injury or damage to property it is a third degree crime, or if it recklessly causes a death it is a second degree crime.
  • Criminal Mischief is a disorderly persons offense if pecuniary loss is $500.00 or less.

Criminal mischief is very serious and can result in significant fines and fees and other ramifications if not handled in a thoughtful and aggressive manner.

What Penalties Will You Face if You Plead Guilty or Are Found Guilty?

First and foremost you will have a criminal record that will be disclosed in a criminal history background check. This record may be expunged at a minimum of 5 years later depending on the circumstances per N.J.S.A. 2C:52-3. This my impact your career, you may be let go from your current job or prevent you from getting a promotion or future job. You risk forfeiting any public office or even a volunteer position.

Each of the charges expose you to incarceration and fines, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C: 43-8 (1) and 2C:43-3. For a second degree crime between 5 to 10 years jail time and up to a $150,000 fine; for a third degree crime between 3 to 5 years jail time and up to a $15,000 fine; for a fourth degree crime up to 18 months jail time and up to a $10,000 fine; and for a disorderly persons offense up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

In addition, for all of the charges you will be required to pay approximately $35 for court costs, $50 Violent Crimes Compensation Board assessment and $75 Safe Neighborhood Services Fund assessment. Restitution will also be imposed for the damage done by the criminal mischief in order to make the victim whole.

If your sentence includes probation then you will have to submit to random drug and urine testing; have community service and reporting requirements. A violation of probation will likely result in jail.

In addition, an offense of criminal mischief that involves an act of graffiti may be required to pay restitution in the amount of the pecuniary damage and to perform community service, which shall include removing the graffiti from the property, if appropriate.

Clearly you will face substantial penalties if convicted of Criminal Mischief. There are defenses which can be raised. For example, did you act purposely or knowingly? The facts may suggest it was accident or mistake which could be a complete defense. Or, in an effort to downgrade the charge was the property not valued accurately? The facts need to be analyzed and assessed to determine the best course of action whether to move for a dismissal or a downgraded charge. I hope you will put your trust in me to handle your case to obtain the best outcome possible.

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