Florida Statute 806.13 outlaws “criminal mischief.” This offense is better known as vandalism, and it has gotten some attention in the Fort Lauderdale lately, due to a recent incident in which 17 vehicles in a Tri-Rail station were vandalized in the middle of the night.
Under the statute, criminal mischief occurs when a person “willfully and maliciously injures or damages by any means any real or personal property belonging to another.”
The penalties for criminal mischief depend on the amount of damage, the type of property vandalized, and whether the perpetrator has any previous convictions. When the total amount of damage done to the property in question is $200 or less, it will be considered a second-degree misdemeanor. If the damage is more than $200 but less than $1,000, it will be considered a first-degree misdemeanor. If the damage is greater than $1,000, it will be considered a third-degree felony.
Criminal mischief can also rise to the level of a felony if it results in the interruption of certain services. If there is “interruption or impairment” of a business operation or a public service (such as services related to transportation, supply of water, gas or power) and this interruption costs $1,000 or more in labor and supplies to restore, then the act of criminal mischief will be considered a third-degree felony.
If the statute is violated by someone who has been convicted one or more times of criminal mischief, then regardless of the cost of the damage, the offense will be classified as a third-degree felony. It will also be classified a third-degree felony if the offender willfully and maliciously defaces, injures, or damages by any means any church, synagogue, mosque, or other place of worship, or any religious article contained therein – so long as the total property damage is more than $200.
There are also provisions dealing specifically with graffiti. If someone is convicted of criminal mischief, and the offense is related to the placement of graffiti, then the statute mandates that – in addition to any other criminal penalty – he or she will be required to perform at least 40 hours of community service, and, if possible, perform at least 100 hours of community service that involves the removal of graffiti.
In addition, if a minor who has a driver’s license is found to have committed a “delinquent act” for placing graffiti on any public or private property, then his or her driver’s license can be revoked for up to a year. If the minor is too young to have a driver’s license, the court can direct the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to withhold his or her driving privileges for up to a year after he or she would have become eligible.
Have You Been Charged with Criminal Mischief?
Even if you have been charged with misdemeanor rather than a felony, you can face major expenses due to a criminal mischief conviction. It may be in your best interests to speak to an experienced lawyer, such as Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Mark S. Lowry.