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Under Florida law, criminal mischief (also known as vandalism) is defined as the wilful and malicious destruction of property belonging to another person. Depending on the amount of damage caused, criminal mischief may carry misdemeanor or felony penalties, including jail or prison. If you are facing a charge of Criminal Mischief in Jacksonville, Duval County, Clay County, or Nassau County Florida, contact our Jacksonville criminal attorney to discuss your legal options.

Definition of Criminal Mischief- Florida Law

Under Section 806.13, Florida Statutes (2013), criminal mischief is defined as the wilful and and malicious causing of injury or damage, by any means, to any real or personal property belonging to another person. Under the statute and applicable case law, injury or damage to property can include acts of graffiti, vandalism, sabotage, defacement, breakage, and other destructive acts.

To prove the crime of criminal mischief at trial, the prosecution must establish the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. the defendant injured or damaged property (real or personal);
  2. the property injured or damaged by the defendant belonged to the alleged victim (identified by the prosecution);
  3. the injury or damage was done willfully and maliciously.

In Florida prosecutions, “willfully” means intentionally, knowingly, and purposely. “Maliciously” means wrongfully, intentionally, without legal justification or excuse, and with the knowledge that injury or damage may be caused to another person or the property of another person.

Penalties for Criminal Mischief- Florida

The penalties for criminal mischief in Florida will vary according to the amount of damage caused to the subject property in the course of the offense. Where the property damage is valued at $200 or less, the person commits a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days imprisonment.  If the value is greater than $200 but less than $1,000, the offense is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year imprisonment. Where the amount of damage to the property exceeds $1,000, it is a third degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment.  

Defenses to Criminal Mischief in Florida

In Florida, there are numerous defenses available to contest a criminal mischief charge. Some of the more common defenses include the following:

If you have been arrested for criminal mischief, malicious mischief, or vandalism in Jacksonville, Duval County, Clay County, or Nassau County Florida, you should consult with an experienced Jacksonville criminal attorney immediately to discuss your legal options. There may be defenses available to defeat the charge or to mitigate the penalties and consequences you may face. Contact our Jacksonville criminal attorneys today for a free consultation.