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NJ Criminal Mischief

Criminal Mischief Charges

Criminal Mischief - The Basics

Criminal mischief is a very common charge in New Jersey. Everyday examples include situations where you intentionally damage another person’s car because the other person stole your parking spot. You may have been waiting for 20 minutes for a parking spot when another driver comes out of nowhere & steals the spot. Another situation may involve a toxic relationship with your landlord. Money is tight & you’ve been late with the rent. Instead of working with you, your landlord files eviction proceedings. In a fit of rage, you damage the kitchen cabinets or spray paint the walls. Lastly, if you trespassed onto someone’s property & damaged their property in any way, you will also face criminal mischief charges.
 
If convicted of criminal mischief, in addition to the fines & penalties the court imposes, you may have to pay restitution for the damage you caused.

Criminal Mischief - Options

If you’ve been charged with criminal mischief, you have the following choices:

Plead Guilty

You will have to admit what you did under oath. This option will leave you with a criminal conviction. It will show up a background check.

Plead Guilty to a Downgraded Charge

This is one aspect of plea bargaining. Instead of admitting that you committed criminal mischief, we will work out a deal with the prosecutor where you plead guilty to a downgraded charge.

Go To Trial & Get Acquitted

This means that a judge or jury listened to all of the evidence & decided that you are not guilty of criminal mischief.

Go To Trial & Get Convicted

This means that the judge listened to all of the evidence & decided that you did commit criminal mischief.

Get Accepted Into Probation

Depending on your charges you may be eligible for either the Pretrial Intervention or Conditional Dismissal program.

Criminal Mischief - Legal Defenses

Legal defenses to criminal mischief charges will vary according to the facts of your case. This type of crime is fact-sensitive & much depends on the evidence against you.

Mistaken Identity Defense
This involves a situation where you did not commit criminal mischief at all. The police made a mistake and arrested the wrong person. You may have been near the scene of the crime but the police mixed you up with someone else.

Alibi – 
This is another situation where you did not commit criminal mischief because you were nowhere near the scene of the crime. We show the judge & prosecutor proof that you were somewhere else. 

Criminal Mischief - Under NJ Law 2C:17-3

A person is guilty of criminal mischief 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, including the damaging or destroying of a rental premises by a tenant in retaliation for institution of eviction proceedings.
b. Grading. (1) Criminal mischief is a crime of the third degree if the actor purposely or knowingly causes pecuniary loss of $2,000.00 or more.
(2) Criminal mischief is a crime of the fourth degree if the actor causes pecuniary loss in excess of $500.00 but less than $2000.00. It is a disorderly persons offense if the actor causes pecuniary loss of $500.00 or less.
(3) Criminal mischief is a crime of the third degree if the actor damages, defaces, eradicates, alters, receives, releases or causes the loss of any research property used by the research facility, or otherwise causes physical disruption to the functioning of the research facility. The term “physical disruption” does not include any lawful activity that results from public, governmental, or research facility employee reaction to the disclosure of information about the research facility.
(4) Criminal mischief is a crime of the fourth degree if the actor damages, removes or impairs the operation of any device, including, but not limited to, a sign, signal, light or other equipment, which serves to regulate or ensure the safety of air traffic at any airport, landing field, landing strip, heliport, helistop or any other aviation facility; however, if the damage, removal or impediment of the device recklessly causes bodily injury or damage to property, the actor is guilty of a crime of the third degree, or if it recklessly causes a death, the actor is guilty of a crime of the second degree.
(5) Criminal mischief is a crime of the fourth degree if the actor interferes or tampers with any airport, landing field, landing strip, heliport, helistop or any other aviation facility; however if the interference or tampering with the airport, landing field, landing strip, heliport, helistop or other aviation facility recklessly causes bodily injury or damage to property, the actor is guilty of a crime of the third degree, or if it recklessly causes a death, the actor is guilty of a crime of the second degree.
(6) Criminal mischief is a crime of the third degree if the actor tampers with a grave, crypt, mausoleum or other site where human remains are stored or interred, with the purpose to desecrate, destroy or steal such human remains or any part thereof.
(7) Criminal mischief is a crime of the third degree if the actor purposely or knowingly causes a substantial interruption or impairment of public communication, transportation, supply of water, oil, gas or power, or other public service. Criminal mischief is a crime of the second degree if the substantial interruption or impairment recklessly causes death.
(8) Criminal mischief is a crime of the fourth degree if the actor purposely or knowingly breaks, digs up, obstructs or otherwise tampers with any pipes or mains for conducting gas, oil or water, or any works erected for supplying buildings with gas, oil or water, or any appurtenances or appendages therewith connected, or injures, cuts, breaks down, destroys or otherwise tampers with any electric light wires, poles or appurtenances, or any telephone, telecommunications, cable television or telegraph wires, lines, cable or appurtenances.
c. A person convicted of an offense of criminal mischief that involves an act of graffiti may, in addition to any other penalty imposed by the court, be required to pay to the owner of the damaged property monetary restitution in the amount of the pecuniary damage caused by the act of graffiti and to perform community service, which shall include removing the graffiti from the property, if appropriate. If community service is ordered, it shall be for either not less than 20 days or not less than the number of days necessary to remove the graffiti from the property.

If I'm convicted at trial, can I appeal?

Yes.

Although appeals can be expensive, it’s definitely worth the money to try.
If you feel that you didn’t get a fair trial or that certain evidence was irrelevant or missing, an appeal is a way to go.
I highly recommend that you hire an aggressive, criminal lawyer to represent you for your appeal.
There are specific steps that must be taken to (intelligently) file an appeal.
Please do not try to do this alone, get help!

Our Experience

You or a loved one have been arrested. Understandably, you are terrified & have a lot of questions. You’ve heard about plea bargains & probation, but the process is overwhelming. You want a local attorney near you to represent you.

Mr. Peyrouton is from Ridgewood & handles all types of criminal matters in New Jersey The New Jersey Law Journal recently published one of his articles on the subject of criminal law.

How We Can Help

Regardless of the criminal charges you are facing, we are here to defend & protect you. Whether you are facing a restraining order, drug charge, theft charge, or aggravated assault charge, we are here to help you. Even a DWI case can really complicate your life.

If we can’t get your charges dismissed, we can either get them downgraded or place you in a diversionary program. The point is, our criminal defense lawyers will fight tirelessly to get you the best result possible. Take advantage of our free consultation to see how we can help.

Our Practice Areas

Below, you will find a few of our practice areas.

Areas We Serve

Our Hackensack criminal lawyers represent clients in Bergen County & nearby counties & cities. 

Get Help With Your Case

How Do Your Free Consultations Work?

There are plenty of excellent Hackensack criminal lawyers in our area. Most, if not all of them, offer free, 20-minute, consultations. However, our free consultations do not have a time limit. You will never feel rushed.

The best way for us to help you is to patiently listen to your side of the story. Your version of events will serve as the basis for your legal defense. It is during these initial meetings that your memory of the event is fresh in your mind. Why we would rush you during such an important aspect of your case.

We understand that your choice of attorney could mean the difference between your freedom and spending years behind bars. 

When you hire an attorney, you are entering a long-term relationship. For this reason, it is important that you feel comfortable with the team of Hackensack criminal lawyers that will represent you.

What our clients say about us

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Excellent attorney. From my first interaction with him he was meticulous, caring and knowledgeable. He explained the nature of my case, strategy to proceed forward and possible ways to resolve the issue. He was quick to respond to my questions and concerns, and was very encouraging when I expressed doubts about my case. He guided me step by step throughout the process. Apart from being an excellent attorney he is also a great person. He was even-keeled with a wonderful temperament. I highly, highly recommend him.
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Alan is a fantastic attorney. His empathy, expertise, and experience really made a distressing process, manageable. He was always reachable and available to answer our questions and guide us through our most recent legal situation. The most reassuring part of working with Alan is that he's literally the lawyer handling your case and communications, unlike other attorneys or large firms where you may get passed around. Bottom line, if you want results, hire Alan!
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Alan is an exceptional attorney. We met with 4 attorneys before we met with Alan and we couldn't believe how patient, humble and knoweldgeable he was. The other 4 lawyers were so arrogant and impatient and they tried to scare us and demanded insane amounts of money. Alan was the opposite. He patiently answered all of our questions and quoted us a reasonable price. We felt so comfortable with Alan that we hired him instantly. My wife said that she felt his compassion and trusted him. Throughout his representation of me, he always reached out to explain each step of the way and what would happen. He held my hand throughout the process and never asked for more money. He resolved my case quickly because it was nonsense to begin with and wwe couldn't be more grateful. I highly recommend him.
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I had a great experience working with Alan. His communication was clear and timely. I felt well supported throughout the legal process. I am confident in his guidance. I highly recommend Alan for his service.
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Highly recommend Mr.Peyrouton. He was very understanding & patient with me throughout the case and overall a great guy. You won’t regret it!
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Mr Peyrouton did an amazing job representing me. From our first encounter until the end of the process. Very easy to talk to, explains everything clear and had my best interest at heart.
Trineya Jernigan
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Our Attorney Alan Peyrouton ( P E Y R O U T O N ) was absolutely a blessing from GOD. We were in search for an attorney for my Husband and my mother-in-law came across Alan's website December 15th 2023 . From the first point of contact we were assured that, we were dealing with serious chargers and that He ( Alan ) was going to do everything in his power to make sure my husband gets home to me and his family. Alan was retained after the detention hearing witch meant he had to work extra hard. By all means that's exactly what Alan did, kept strong communication throughout the process, working while everyone else was on vacation for the Christmas and New Years Holidays. Alan spent serval hours with my husband getting to know him as a human being, After the first interaction they had Alan knew that my husband wasn't suppose to be in jail and that he was innocent. Alan wanted justice for us and he proved that at each hearing, representing my Husband with Integrity, Honor and Respect. I am grateful and will forever be appreciative for what he has done for us. We were looking at a 10 year plus sentence witch would have been detrimental to us especially to our kids. Alan was dedicated and consistent with providing professional and genuine representation, because of that he won our case!!!!!!!! Because of Alan my Husband didn't have to do any prison time & will be home with us this year! Thank you for everything you have done for our family, May God continue to Bless you and your family. Thanks again!I recommend Alan to anyone who's in need of the best attorney in New Jersey. Have faith in God & know that Alan will truly fight for you.
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