In Florida, criminal mischief can be divided into three categories, all depending on the dollar amount of the damage allegedly done to the property.
If the amount of damage done is $0-$200, the offense is a 2nd-degree misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail, 6 months probation, and a $500 fine.
If the amount of damage done is $200-$1000, the offense is a 1st-degree misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail, 1 year probation, and a $1000 fine.
If the amount of damage done is over $1000, the offense is a 3rd-degree felony, with a maximum sentence of 5 years in state prison.
In the area of domestic violence, criminal mischief is a common charge. This charge usually occurs when the accused person allegedly breaks the property of his or her spouse or partner. This can be something like breaking a window, smashing a laptop computer, or doing damage to somebody's car.
In almost every burglary case, the charge of criminal mischief is just one of many charges. Others may include grand theft or petit theft, depending on the value of the items allegedly stolen. In a burglary, criminal mischief may occur if a window or door is broken while the accused is allegedly entering the home. Inside the home, criminal mischief can be charged if anything is broken or damaged.
Remember, you can still be charged with criminal mischief if even the slightest damage is done to property, so long as it is done with intent. It is not a crime to accidently damage somebody's property.
Furthermore, the State must prove the value of the item damaged. When considering "value," one must determine its present value, not just its retail value. In other words, if I buy a new Lexus in 2005, in 2010, that Lexus has gone down in value. It may only be worth half of what I paid for it.
The same logic follows with criminal mischief. The value of the item will determine whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
When I was a prosecutor in Miami-Dade County, I handled countless criminal mischief cases, at both the misdemeanor and felony level. With no priors, an accused person can often get pretrial intervention (for a felony) or pretrial diversion (for a misdemeanor) if that person's criminal defense attorney knows how to negotiate effectively.
Also, with any criminal mischief sentence or diversion program, there will almost always be restitution. This restitution will be a claim by the alleged victim as to what the accused owes him or her. A good criminal lawyer will not let his or her client accept a plea where the restitution is too high. The State, and the alleged victim, must be able to prove the value of the item. That means through receipts and documentation showing the fair market value of the property. This is not always an easy task. If the State cannot prove value, the accused person will likely end up paying much less in restitution.
As a criminal defense attorney who practices in Miami-Dade County, I see a lot of criminal mischief cases. Call my office to discuss yours.