Under Florida law, vandalism and similar acts are considered criminal offenses. Typically, any purposeful property damage will result in a criminal mischief charge.
Even if the amount of damage was small, a conviction can still result in jail time as well as possible fines. Graffiti is especially punished rather harshly under Florida law.
West Palm Beach Criminal Mischief Lawyer
While this crime might sound like a very minor transgression, it is in fact a very serious charge that can even result in incarceration. An arrest for criminal mischief in South Florida can be a daunting experience, but there is no need to go it alone.
The Palm Beach County criminal mischief attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. defend clients against these charges in Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Wellington, Jupiter, and several surrounding communities. To schedule your free consultation that will allow our firm to review your case, call (561) 557-8686 today.
Florida Criminal Mischief Information Center
- How is this crime defined in Florida law?
- What are the possible consequences if an alleged offender is convicted?
- How are these penalties different if the alleged offense involved graffiti?
Criminal mischief is defined in Florida as willfully and maliciously damaging by any means any property belonging to another person. This includes acts commonly known as graffiti and vandalism.
The penalties for criminal mischief in Florida largely depend upon the amount of damage done. If damage is done to multiple pieces of property, or even different pieces of property belonging to different owners, the amounts will be added together for determination of the level of the offense if the damage results from the same action or scheme. For example, if you slash four tires on a car, the total amount of damage to all four tires will be used to determine the level of offense you are charged with.
If the amount of damage is $200 or less, criminal mischief will be charged as a second-degree misdemeanor, and conviction will result in:
- Up to 60 days in jail
- Up to $500 in fines
If the amount of damage is between $200 and $1,000, criminal mischief will be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, and conviction will result in:
- Up to a year in jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines
In many circumstances, vandalism and other criminal mischief can even result in felony charges. Criminal mischief will be charged as a third-degree felony if:
- The total amount of damage is over $1,000
- There is interruption or impairment of a business operation or public service that costs more than $1,000 in labor and supplies to restore
- More than $200 in damage is done to a church or other place of worship or any religious article inside it
- The damage is done to a sexually violent predator detention or commitment facility
- The damage is done to a pay phone or other public phone, or the phone is opened or rendered inoperable, if a notice of this law with these penalties is posted and visible to the public at the time and location of the offense
If convicted of criminal mischief as a third-degree felony, you will face:
- Up to five years in prison
- Up to $5,000 in fines
In all instances, you will also be liable for restitution for any and all property damage in addition to the fines.
Florida has implemented additional, harsher penalties for any instances of criminal mischief involving placement of graffiti. In addition to the other penalties, a conviction of criminal mischief involving graffiti will result in a requirement to perform at least 40 hours of community service and, if possible, perform at least 100 hours of community service that involves the removal of graffiti, along with an additional mandatory minimum fine of:
- $250 for a first conviction
- $500 for a second conviction
- $1,000 for a third or subsequent conviction
If a minor under the age of 18 commits a delinquent act of criminal mischief involving graffiti, additional conditions apply:
- The parent or guardian of the minor is also liable for payment of the fine.
- If the minor is eligible for a driver’s license, that license will be suspended or withheld from issuance for a year. This time period may be reduced by performing community service.
- If the minor is not eligible to drive by reason of age, suspension, or revocation; the minor will have to wait an additional year from the date he or she would otherwise be eligible for a driver’s license. This time period may be reduced by performing community service.
Finding a Criminal Mischief Lawyer in Palm Beach County
If you have been arrested and charged with this offense in South Florida, you should immediately seek legal representation who will fight for the best possible outcome. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represents clients in Palm Beach Gardens, Greenacres, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, Riviera Beach, and many other nearby areas.
Our West Palm Beach criminal mischief attorneys have more than two decades of combined experience handling these types of cases on both sides of the aisle, so we understand what defense strategies are the most effective against these charges. Let our firm review your case by calling (561) 557-8686 today to take advantage of a free consultation.