Criminal Mischief occurs when someone destroys, defaces or damages another person’s property. Criminal mischief is a crime in Pennsylvania. The definition of this crime can be found in the Pennsylvania crimes code at 18 Pa.C.S. §3304. Refer to this section for the exact definition of this crime.
The following are common examples of illegal behavior that constitute criminal mischief:
- slashing someone’s tires;
- keying someone’s car;
- “egging” someone’s house;
- smashing someone’s computer;
- drawing graffiti;
- accidently setting a fire that causes damage;
- negligent use of fireworks that leads to property damage;
- shooting a paintball gun at someone’s house.
Damaging your own property is not illegal. This is a defense used by my office to beat your case. For example, if you live with your girlfriend or boyfriend and find out they are cheating on you and you smash the T.V., it is a defense to criminal mischief that you bought the T.V.
Grading of Criminal Mishief
Criminal mischief is graded according to the dollar value of the damage. If the damage or loss is more than $5000.00, criminal mischief is a felony of the third degree (F-3). If the damage is more than $1000.00, criminal mischief is a misdemeanor of the second degree (M-2). If the damage is more than $500.00, criminal mischief is a misdemeanor of the third degree (M-3). If the damage is $500.00 or less then criminal mischief is a summary offense.
Summary Criminal Mischief
If you damage property valued at $500.00 or less and receive a summary citation for criminal mischief, I do not recommend pleading guilty and paying the fine. A summary citation is viewable to the public and to prospective employers on the Pennsylvania’s Unified Judicial System Web Portal. I recommend pleading NOT guilty and calling an attorney. Summary criminal mischief will be on your record for a minimum of 5 years1.
If you have been charged with criminal mischief in any capacity, contact Jason R. Antoine criminal mischief defense attorney at (610) 299-0295 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is important to protect you or your loved one’s record and reputation. My office will fight to keep your record clean and come out with minimal or no penalties.
1 Summary criminal mischief will always be on your record unless you hire an attorney to file an expungement petition after 5 years.