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What constitutes 'criminal mischief' in New York?

When one thinks of vandalism crimes, they may not seem too serious. However, depending on the degree of damage done, vandalism crimes in New York could range from a class A misdemeanor to a class B felony. Graffiti charges and other vandalism crimes fall under the crime of "criminal mischief." Criminal mischief can occur anywhere from first degree to fourth degree.

A person could be charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief under a number of circumstances. One circumstance is if the accused purposely causes up to $250 in damages to another person's property. Another is if the accused purposely took part in destroying an abandoned building. Criminal mischief in the fourth degree is considered a class A misdemeanor.

Third-degree criminal mischief takes place if a person purposely causes over $250 in damages to another person's property. In addition, a person could be charged with third degree criminal mischief if they cause damage to another person's locked automobile by breaking into it in order to steal something and they have had three previous convictions of criminal mischief in the last ten years. Criminal mischief in the third degree is considered a class E felony.

Second-degree criminal mischief occurs when a person intentionally causes over $1,500 in damages to another person's property. It is considered a class D felony. First-degree criminal mischief occurs when a person intentionally causes damage to another person's property through the use of an explosive device. It is considered a class B felony.

There can be far-reaching consequences pertaining to vandalism and the crime of criminal mischief. Graffiti and other vandalism crimes may seem relatively harmless in comparison to theft crimes or violent crimes, but there are significant penalties that follow a conviction of criminal mischief. If one is facing criminal charges relating to criminal mischief, it is important that they take the appropriate steps needed to understand the charges they face.

Source: New York State Law, "Article 145 - NY Penal Law," Accessed July 14, 2015

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