Jacksonville Criminal Mischief and Vandalism Attorney
Under Florida law, criminal mischief (also known as vandalism) is a serious criminal
offense that may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the facts of
a particular case. If you are facing a charge of Criminal Mischief in Jacksonville,
FL, contact a Jacksonville criminal attorney to discuss your options under Florida
The offense of criminal mischief is rooted in the common law offense of “malicious
mischief.” Wharton's Criminal Law, § 485 (14th ed. 1981). Malicious mischief was
codified into Florida Statutes Section 806.13, and eventually relabeled as “criminal
mischief.” The offense is commonly referred to in Florida as “vandalism.”
How is Criminal Mischief (Vandalism) Defined in Florida?
Under Florida law, a person commits the offense of criminal mischief if he or she
willfully and maliciously injures or damages by any means any real or personal property
belonging to another, including, but not limited to, the placement of graffiti thereon
or other acts of vandalism thereto.
How is Criminal Mischief (Vandalism) Proven in Florida?
To prove the crime of criminal mischief at trial, the prosecution must establish
the following 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. Under Florida law, “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.
The penalties available for the crime of criminal mischief will depend on the value
of the property damaged. Where the property damaged 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 value of the damaged
property exceeds $1,000, it is a third degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years
What Are the Defenses to Criminal Mischief in Florida?
Depending on the facts of an individual case, there are numerous defenses available
for a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer to contest a criminal mischief charge
in Jacksonville. First, did the damage result from the conduct of the accused? Did
the alleged victim actually own the property, or was the property jointly owned or
possessed by the accused and the alleged victim? Was the act that caused the damage
willful, or did it occur in the midst of an altercation? Was the damage caused by
the act accidental? Was it the alleged victim’s conduct that actually caused the
damage to the property? Was there a legal justification for the accused’s conduct?
Were there extenuating circumstances excusing the accused’s conduct? Was the conduct
of the accused necessary to protect himself or to protect others? Is there some other
circumstance in the case to support an argument that the accused’s conduct was not