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Criminal Mischief: N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3

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NJ Criminal Mischief – 2C:17-3

Although property damage often leads to civil charges, New Jersey law enforcement will not hesitate to arrest offenders and file criminal charges as well. Even if no one was injured, you can still be charged with criminal mischief and face significant prison time in Essex County, New Jersey. That’s because criminal mischief is considered a serious assault and threat crime. Whether you are accused of retaliating against your landlord or getting drunk and accidentally damaging the front of a building, it is imperative that retain an experienced criminal defense attorney who can advocate for you in court.

The attorneys at the Tormey Law Firm know what it takes to beat your criminal mischief charges, whether they involve property damage, vandalism, or graffiti. Founding partner Travis J. Tormey has successfully handled countless cases in Essex County, NJ, including Newark, Millburn, Montclair, Bloomfield, and Belleville. Additionally, the firm has a former municipal and county prosecutor on staff, which will help us build a winning defense in your case. Examples of the firm’s excellent track record can be viewed on our success stories page. If you have been charged with criminal mischief or vandalism in Essex County NJ, call us today at 201-654-3464 to arrange a free consultation with a member of our criminal defense team. We are also happy to schedule a meeting at our offices in Newark.

New Jersey Criminal Mischief Statute: N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3

NJ law protects citizens against damage to their tangible property and imposes criminal penalties on offenders. N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3 prohibits a person from:

  1. Purposely or knowingly damaging the tangible property of another person
  2. Recklessly or negligently damaging property while using fire, explosives, or other dangerous means
  3. Purposely, knowingly, or recklessly tampering with property so as to endanger the property or the property owner

Grading and Penalties for Criminal Mischief in Essex County NJ

Property damage might seem like a minor offense, but the penalties can be severe. Depending on the circumstances of the offense and the amount of damage, you could face felony charges and a lengthy prison sentence.

Third Degree Crime for Criminal Mischief if the offender:

  • Purposely or knowingly caused pecuniary loss of $2,000 or more
  • Damaged, defaced, altered, or caused the loss of research property at a research facility
  • Interfered or tampered with an airport and recklessly caused bodily injury or damage to property
  • Tampered with a grave or any other site where human remains are stored or interred
  • Purposely or knowingly caused a substantial interruption of a public service such as water, gas, or power

Fourth degree felony for Criminal Mischief if the offender:

  • Caused pecuniary loss of between $500 and $2,000
  • Damaged, removed, or impaired the operation of a sign, signal, light, or any device necessary to ensure air traffic safety at an airport
  • Interfered or tampered with an airport
  • Purposely or knowingly broke, dug up, or otherwise tampered with gas, oil, or water pipes

Disorderly Persons Criminal Mischief Offense if the offender:

  • Caused pecuniary loss of $500 or less

A conviction for the most serious charge, third degree criminal mischief, can result in a sentence of between three and five years in state prison, as well as a $15,000 fine. On the other end of the spectrum, even a simple act of graffiti can net you up to six months in county jail, as well as an order to pay monetary restitution to the property owner and a requirement to perform community service that includes removal of the graffiti.

Contact a Nutley Criminal Mischief Lawyer

If you are facing charges for criminal mischief in Essex County, New Jersey, you can see this is a very serious “violent” crime that carries major penalties. That’s why it is crucial for you to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side as you fight these charges. Call the Tormey Law Firm today at 201-654-3464 to discuss your criminal mischief case, or email us to schedule a free consultation at our Newark office.

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"I was facing serious trouble for marijuana possession. Was looking at probation, loss of driving privileges and even jail time. Travis's great knowledge of his clients constitutional rights"


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Our NJ lawyers represent clients in Belleville, Bloomfield, Caldwell, Cedar Grove, City of Orange, East Orange, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Glen Ridge, Irvington, Livingston, Maplewood, Millburn, Short Hills, Montclair, Upper Montclair, Newark, North Caldwell, Nutley, Roseland, South Orange Village, Verona, West Caldwell, West Orange, Wayne, Clifton and Paterson. Call us at 201-654-3464 or toll-free at 888-668-1940.

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