One commits criminal mischief, commonly referred to as “vandalism,” when one willfully and maliciously damages another’s property. Damaging property can include acts of graffiti, sabotage, breakage, defacement, or other destructive acts like arson. The penalty a defendant can face for these crimes depends on the value of the property that was damaged.
Generally, criminal mischief crimes in Florida are misdemeanor crimes if the value of the property reaches or falls below $1,000. A criminal mischief offense on a property of $1,000 or more is a third-degree felony that can result in up to 5 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. Whether you face misdemeanor or felony charges, your case could greatly benefit from the legal guidance of a seasoned criminal mischief attorney in West Palm Beach.
Penalties for Graffiti
Graffiti is a crime that brings harsher penalties than other Florida criminal mischief offenses. It is typically committed by juvenile offenders, many of whom may be committing their first offense. The state of Florida has implemented additional penalties for vandalism crimes involving graffiti. In addition to regular penalties, a vandalism conviction involving graffiti can require the defendant to spend at least 40 hours performing community service. He or she may also be required to spend a minimum of 100 community service hours removing graffiti, in addition to paying mandatory minimum fines.
Arson in West Palm Beach
Arson is a violent criminal mischief crime. Article 806.01 of the Florida Statutes defines arson as a type of property crime that involves the willful and malicious damaging of property by fire or explosion. Courts may charge arson as a first or second-degree felony offense depending on the facts of the case. Facing criminal arson charges will require the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Arson charges in Florida can lead to severe penalties. Arson is the willful act of burning or causing property damage by causing an explosion to any dwelling, whether or not the property was occupied. Under these circumstances, arson is a first-degree felony offense punishable by up to life in prison and fines up to $15,000.
For instances where one can reasonably deduce that the building did not meet the criteria listed above (such as an abandoned building), arson is still considered a second-degree felony. Penalties can include a prison sentence of up to 30 years and fines of up to $10,000. Arson crimes that result in personal injury to another could lead to much more severe penalties in addition to the arson charge.
If in addition to property damage, the arson crime injured someone, the alleged offender may face an additional first-degree misdemeanor charge punishable by up to a year in jail and fines of up to $1000. Where arson results in “great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement,” you may face an additional second-degree felony charge.
Do not wait to develop a strong criminal defense against arson charges. Attorney Brian Gabriel has defended Florida criminal mischief and arson in West Palm Beach for over 25 years, providing personalized attention to each unique case. Contact The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel at (561) 622-5575 to receive a free legal consultation or schedule an appointment online.