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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Let me start by saying that Alan and Kevin gave me my life back. I was been charged with different charges and facing over 15 years in jail.When i first walk into their office i was scared and uncertain of what my future was going to be but thanks to these two great men i got my life back. I explained my situation and how i was falsely accused and they could see that i was telling the true. They became more than a bodyguard on my behalf. They defended me like if i was their son or a relative. Expended extended hours on my case, any other lawyer would charge a very large amount of money.They did an awesome job and i have a personal appreciation for them.The outcome of my situation was incredibly. Didn't have to go to trial even though they were more than ready, no jail time, no probation or PTI. For my career it was awesome because i have a secret clearance and anything other than a small fine would jeopardize it.I would like to thank them and If you ever need a knowledge lawyer call them they are the best.Quiesiera empesar por decir que Alan y Kevin me devolvieron mi vida. Estaba en la situation que podia ver unos 15 años en la carcel.La primera vez que entre a su officina yo tenia miedo e inseguro de lo que esperaba del futuro. Le explique mi situacion e inmediatamente se dieron cuenta que decia la verdad sobre las falsas acusaciones. En ese momento tomaron mi caso y se volvieron mas que mis guarda espalda. Pelearon por mi como si yo fuera su hijo o algun pariente. Trabajaron muchisimas horas que cualquier otro abogado me ubiera cobrado muchisimo. En este caso tenia un dos por uno. Le tengo un aprecio personal a los dos.Al final los resultados fueron sorpredientes. No tube ningun tipo de probacion o PTI. Para el trabajo que hago cualquier cargo que no sea una pequeña multa afectaria mi trabajo. Ademas tengo una segurida secreta y para aquirir ese tipo de suguridad es muy dificil.Le quiero dar las gracias a los dos y recomendarlos a cualquiera que tenga algun problema con la ley
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A person extorts if he purposely threatens to:

a. Inflict bodily injury on or physically confine or restrain anyone or commit any other criminal offense;
b. Accuse anyone of an offense or cause charges of an offense to be instituted against any person;
c. Expose or publicize any secret or any asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or to impair his credit or business repute;
d. Take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action;
e. Bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other collective action, if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act;
f. Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense; or
g. Inflict any other harm which would not substantially benefit the actor but which is calculated to materially harm another person.

***It is an affirmative defense to prosecution based on paragraphs b, c, d or f that the property obtained was honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done in the circumstances or as lawful compensation for property or services.

Reasonable Articulable Suspicion

Reasonable suspicion is a “search” standard that applies in criminal law.

When a police officer conducts a warrantless search, and does not have probable cause to justify the search, the courts look to see if the police had
a “reasonable & articulable suspicion” for the search.

A mere “hunch” is not enough.

In other words, a police officer has to provide an acceptable explanation for the search.

United States Constitution

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

NJSA - 2C:43-7.2.
Eligibility for parole;
persons convicted of certain violent crimes

a. A court imposing a sentence of incarceration for a crime of the first or second degree enumerated in subsection d. of this section shall fix a minimum term of 85% of the sentence imposed, during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.


b. The minimum term required by subsection a. of this section shall be fixed as a part of every sentence of incarceration imposed upon every conviction of a crime enumerated in subsection d. of this section, whether the sentence of incarceration is determined pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-6, N.J.S.2C:43-7, N.J.S.2C:11-3 or any other provision of law, and shall be calculated based upon the sentence of incarceration actually imposed. The provisions of subsection a. of this section shall not be construed or applied to reduce the time that must be served before eligibility for parole by an inmate sentenced to a mandatory minimum period of incarceration. Solely for the purpose of calculating the minimum term of parole ineligibility pursuant to subsection a. of this section, a sentence of life imprisonment shall be deemed to be 75 years.


c. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary and in addition to any other sentence imposed, a court imposing a minimum period of parole ineligibility of 85 percent of the sentence pursuant to this section shall also impose a five-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the first degree, or a three-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the second degree. The term of parole supervision shall commence upon the completion of the sentence of incarceration imposed by the court pursuant to subsection a. of this section unless the defendant is serving a sentence of incarceration for another crime at the time he completes the sentence of incarceration imposed pursuant to subsection a., in which case the term of parole supervision shall commence immediately upon the defendant’s release from incarceration. During the term of parole supervision the defendant shall remain in release status in the community in the legal custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and shall be supervised by the State Parole Board as if on parole and shall be subject to the provisions and conditions

Felony Degree

Prison & Fines

Examples

First-Degree

1st-degree felony charges in NJ are reserved for the most serious criminal offenses. Prison terms start at a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Second-Degree

2nd-degree felony charges carry 5-10 yrs in prison.
These charges can often be “downgraded” to 3rd or 4th-degree crimes.

Third-Degree

3rd-degree felony charges carry 3-5 years.
You have a good shot at PTI if you are charged with a 3rd-degree.

Fourth-Degree

4th-degree felony charges carry up to 18 months in jail. These cases can get “remanded” to a lower court. In this way, you will be out of “felony” danger.

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