What is the Crime of Vandalism in Florida?
Panama City Beach, the St. Augustine Marina, and businesses along Florida Boulevard are just a few areas that saw an increase in vandalism over the recent Spring Break. This year, the number of vandalism incidents was so high that the vandals were called “entitled brats” by a number of media outlets. Vandalism is more than just merely acting out, though. Under Florida law, it is a crime and even the lowest possible charge could still result in jail time.
How is Vandalism Defined Under Florida Law?
Vandalism, known as criminal mischief according to Section 806.13 of the Florida Statute, is defined as the malicious and willful destruction of personal or real property that belongs to someone else. Real property is immovable property, such as someone’s home or a commercial structure. Personal property, on the other hand, is that which can be moved, such as someone else’s vehicle. Many different types of criminal mischief are included in the statute. These include vandalism, graffiti, breakage, defacement, sabotage, and any other destructive acts.
Elements of Criminal Mischief
Acts of vandalism and other types of criminal mischief are often done when there are few people in the area. As such, law enforcement often gets it wrong and charges the wrong person for the crime. It is important to remember that a charge is not a conviction. To secure a conviction for criminal mischief, the prosecution must prove certain elements of their case. These include:
- The defendant damaged personal or real property
- The property was that of the alleged victim, and the prosecution must identify the victim
- The defendant intentionally damaged the property and had malicious intent in doing so
The Florida courts have been divided when determining what constitutes intent in criminal mischief cases. Some use the concept of general intent, which is the intention of committing a crime. Others use specific intent, which is the intention of damaging property.
What are the Penalties for Criminal Mischief?
The penalties for a criminal mischief conviction vary, depending on the value of the property damage. When the property damage is valued at less than $200, the crime is considered a second-degree misdemeanor. A conviction for this offense can result in up to 60 days in county jail.
When the property damage is valued between $200 and $1,000, the offense is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. A conviction for this type of charge is punishable by up to one year in jail. Charges that involve property damage valued at $1,000 or more are considered third-degree felonies. The most serious of criminal mischief crimes, a conviction can result in up to five years in prison.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Orlando Can Help You Beat Your Charges
If you have been charged with criminal mischief, our Orlando criminal lawyer at O’Mara Law Group can help you retain your freedom. We know that innocent people are charged all too often, and can build a strong case to give you the best chance of a favorable outcome. Call us today at 407-634-6604 or contact us online to request a consultation and to learn more about how we can help.