Criminal Mischief Lawyer
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Criminal Mischief, as outlined by Florida Statute 806.13, is the willful and malicious damage to another person’s property. This can include actions from graffiti and vandalism, to intentionally breaking a window of a home or car. Read more to learn how to prove criminal mischief, what are the penalties if convicted, and how our experienced criminal mischief attorney can help you.
What is Criminal Mischief?
Any damage – even minor damage – can result in a charge of criminal mischief; however, there are two words that are important to understand when faced with this charge: willful and malicious.
Willful means “intentionally, knowingly, or purposefully” [Florida Jury Instructions §806.13(1)-(2)]. Not all actions resulting in damages constitute “criminal mischief” – such as a car accident, or accidentally hitting a ball through someone’s window. Rather, the damage done must have been caused with some sort of intent or knowledge of the person committing the act that caused the damage.
Malicious means “wrongfully, intentionally, without legal justification or excuse, and with the knowledge that injury or damage will be caused to another person or the property of another person” [Florida Jury Instructions §806.13(1)-(2)]. Aside from causing the damage on purpose, the damage must also be caused without a legal justification. For example, a person who breaks a car window because a child is locked in the back seat does not commit criminal mischief, but a person who throws a rock into a full parking lot (regardless of whether or not the person intended to hit any particular vehicle) does commit the offense.
In addition, criminal mischief carries several different degrees – or level of severity – of the crime. The degree varies based on the amount of the damage, location of damage, or item damaged. Degrees vary from a second degree misdemeanor to a third degree felony.
Second Degree Misdemeanor – If the amount of damage is $200 or less. Note that there is no minimum dollar amount for a criminal mischief charge. Even if the damage amounts to $1, you can be charged [s. (1)(b)1]. Punishable by up to 60 days in jail, 6 months of probation, and a fine of $500.
First Degree Misdemeanor – If the amount of damage is between $200 and $1,000 [s. (1)(b)2]. Punishable by up to 12 months in jail, 12 months of probation, and a fine of $1,000.
Third Degree Felony – If the amount of damage is $1,000 or more, or if the damage interrupts a business or public operation [s. (1)(b)3]. Additionally, having a previous conviction of criminal mischief results in a felony classification [s. (1)(b)4], as does damaging a religious building [s. (2)], public telephone [s. (3)], or sexual predator detention or commitment facility [s. (4)]. Punishable by up to 5 years in jail, 5 years of probation, and a charge of $5,000.
How to Prove Criminal Mischief
As with all criminal cases, the State has the burden of proving every element of the charge beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt. According to the Florida Jury Instructions for §806.13(1)-(2), the State must prove:
- The Defendant injured or damaged real or personal property
- The property injured or damaged belonged to another person
- The injury or damage was done willfully and maliciously
- The amount of the damage and, when applicable, the location of the damage or item damaged
The State must prove all four of these elements; it is not enough for them to only prove that a piece of property was damaged, nor is it enough for them to prove that the damage was done only willfully. In order to get a conviction of criminal mischief, every single elements of the charge must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This is where hiring an experience criminal defense attorney provides you with the upmost benefit. It is the job of a defense attorney to show that the State’s evidence is inadequate for proving that you committed a crime.
The Thompson Law Approach
When you hire Matt Thompson as your attorney, you can be certain that you are hiring an experienced attorney who will fight diligently on your behalf. With all of our criminal cases, our first step is to discuss the case with our client and get his or her account of the incident. This allows us to make a determination of the unique circumstances of your case and decide what course of action is going to result in the best possible outcome for you. After analyzing the evidence from the State, we can go on the offensive. We will craft legal arguments for your case, attack the State’s evidentiary weaknesses, and negotiate with the state attorney to ensure that you are in the best situation throughout the life of your case. Even if your case does not go to trial, we prepare every case as though it will.
Client was texting a friend when her significant other tried to grab for her phone. When the client tried to pull away, the victim claimed that he was battered and the client was arrested and brought before DCF due a child being in the house. Attorney Matt Thompson wrote a letter to the State explaining the discrepancy in evidence and claimed that the client was in fact moving away from the victim and did not intentionally try to hit the victim. All charges against the client were dismissed.
Sale and Possession of Heroin
Defendant entered a treatment facility while case was pending. Attorney Thompson provided progress reports of all of her progress during her stay to show improvement. State agreed to amend all charges to simple possession and the Defendant was sentenced into Drug Court.
Aggravated Assault with a Firearm
Client was accused of shooting a shotgun over the head of two minors. Attorney Thompson did a public records request to discover that officers reported to the scene of the crime the night of the incident and spoke to the victims on the evening the alleged crime occurred and believed the victims to be intoxicated and unreliable. Attorney Thompson conducted depositions of the officers and ultimately all charges were reduced to a misdemeanor and no incarceration.
Grand Theft, Fleeing, Possession of a Fictitious Driver’s License
Attorney Matt Thompson, through depositions and litigation was able to show that officers did not act according to the warrant by picking up the client immediately upon sight. The charge of Fleeing or Attempting to Elude Law Enforcement, which carries a mandatory felony conviction, was dismissed by the State and the client was offered probation and no felony conviction.
Sexual Battery & Domestic Battery
Mr. Thompson took depositions of the victim showing that the victim was not truthful with police when she provided her statement as to what happened. Confronted victim with social media posts, bank records, and telephone records to show that she was not in the places that she stated she was during the time the alleged crime took place. Case 1 was dismissed and the Defendant pled to Case 2 and received two (2) years of prison and credit for fifteen (15) months in prison.
Over 15 Years of ExperienceThere's no substitute for experience. When faced with a serious crime, you need an attorney who has successfully handled numerous cases like yours.
Aggressive Trial AttorneyMatt Thompson is a skilled trial attorney and has achieved many positive jury verdicts. If your case goes to trial, you can be confident that Matt is equipped to represent you.
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Criminal Defense Is All We DoBecause our firm only focuses on criminal defense matters, you can trust our team has the specific knowledge needed to handle you case successfully.