Vandalizing someone else’s property might seem harmless at the time, but if you are caught, you could face life-altering consequences. Vandalism is when someone deliberately destroys the property of another person. In New Jersey, it is considered criminal mischief and can lead you down a dark path if caught. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3, if you purposely damage the property of another, or damage it while using dangerous means, you can be charged with criminal mischief. You can also be incriminated for this if you are caught knowingly destroying the property of another in order to hurt them or their property.
Vandalism comes along with various penalties that will negatively affect your life. The seriousness of the consequences depends on the damage done and the monetary amount that it takes to fix that damage. If the harm you caused was less than $500, you could get off with a disorderly persons offense. However, if the monetary amount of destruction was between $500 and $2,000, you could be charged with a fourth-degree crime. Tampering with gas lines, cable lines, or telephone lines also falls under this category. If the damages exceeded the amount of $2,000, or if you were caught destroying a cemetery, grave site, research property, or mausoleum, the charge is upgraded to the third degree. Finally, if the vandalism caused an area of public transportation to stop running, this is also classified as a third-degree crime.Graffiti also falls within New Jersey’s criminal mischief statute because it is a form of vandalism. This type of defacement is not only aimed towards people who spray paint walls, it includes any type of artistic damage done to a building, car, or other structures. If you do not have the permission of the property owner, it’s considered graffiti. Graffiti is even defined as etching your name into a wooden park bench.
Graffiti also falls within New Jersey’s criminal mischief statute because it is a form of vandalism. This type of defacement is not only aimed towards people who spray paint walls, it includes any type of artistic damage done to a building, car, or other structures. If you do not have the permission of the property owner, it’s considered graffiti. Graffiti is even defined as etching your name into a wooden park bench.
According to N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3(c), a person convicted of criminal mischief involving graffiti is required to pay the owner of the damaged property the monetary amount to cover the defaced area. Community service, which includes removing graffiti from the property, is also a requirement. In addition to these punishments, you could also face jail time and a heavy fine. Depending on how much damage you caused, you could be charged with either a third or fourth-degree crime. The repercussions of a fourth degree misdemeanor include fines up to $10,000 and 18 months of jail time. For a third degree conviction, you could face 3 to 5 years of imprisonment with a fine of $15,000.
Many people facing these charges don’t realize just how serious the penalties can be. Minors can also be charged with this crime—however, they will not go through the adult court system. Minors can still be put into juvenile detention centers, forced to do service, pay fines, and acquire a juvenile record. This will affect their future chances of finding employment and college acceptances.
In all, graffiti and vandalism are two types of criminal mischief that can take serious toll on your life. If you are facing these charges in the state of New Jersey, you need an experienced attorney to help you avoid the hurtful penalties of a conviction. As a seasoned defense attorney, I, David C. Barry, fight to get you the best possible outcome to your case. Call me today at (732) 238-8686 to start going over your defense strategy.