Criminal Mischief

Criminal mischief is a crime that involves damaging or destroying someone else’s property without their permission. Under California Penal Code section 594, it is illegal to deface, damage, or destroy someone else’s property in order to interfere with their use or enjoyment of the property, or to obstruct, interrupt, or interfere with a public utility.

Criminal mischief can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the damage caused and the circumstances of the case. If the damage is valued at less than $400, it is generally charged as a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If the damage is valued at $400 or more, it is generally charged as a felony, punishable by 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

In order to be convicted of criminal mischief, the prosecution must prove that the defendant intentionally or recklessly caused damage to someone else’s property. This means that the defendant must have acted with the intent to cause the damage or with a conscious disregard for the fact that their actions could result in damage. Accidentally causing damage, without any intent or recklessness, is not sufficient to support a conviction for criminal mischief.

There are several defenses that may be available to someone charged with criminal mischief. For example, the defendant may be able to argue that they had the owner’s permission to damage or destroy the property, or that they were acting in self-defense or in defense of others. The defendant may also be able to argue that the damage was accidental or was caused by someone else.

In addition to criminal penalties, a conviction for criminal mischief can have other consequences, such as damage to the defendant’s reputation, difficulty finding employment, and difficulty obtaining loans or other financial assistance. It is important for anyone charged with criminal mischief to seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help them understand their rights and options and mount a strong defense against the charges.