Miami Beach Police have arrested a homeless man accused of writing the letters “KKK” and drawing a swastika on the wall of a Miami Beach temple.
The charge is criminal mischief in a church or place or worship, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
The accused is still in custody, despite having a $5,000 bond on the criminal mischief charge, as he apparently has an outstanding warrant for an unrelated case.
Whether this vandalism is the result of real anti-semitism or the work of a mentally-disturbed homeless man has yet to be seen.
In all likelihood, the accused suffers from a mental illness and should be sentenced to some form of treatment as opposed to prison.
I understand that hate messages scrawled on the wall of a temple are disturbing, but in this situation, it does not appear to be authentic. Regardless, the law in Florida does make it a felony to commit an act of criminal mischief on a place of worship, regardless of the amount of property damage.
Under normal circumstances, the degrees of criminal mischief are measured by the value of the damage.
For $0-$200 in damage, the crime is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by 60 days in jail.
For $200-$1000 in damage, the crime is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail.
For over $1000 in damage, the crime is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
Resolutions in criminal mischief cases can range from Pretrial Intervention up to prison time. Restitution is almost always a part of any plea agreement.
Eric Matheny is a Miami criminal mischief attorney and Broward criminal mischief attorney.