What Qualifies as Criminal Mischief
One of the essential elements of criminal mischief is knowingly damaging someone else’s property. This means criminal mischief cannot be committed by accident. You had to know your actions would damage the property, or should have known damage could occur from your actions. Say for example you are playing catch in your backyard, and a wayward throw sends the ball through your neighbor’s window. That is not criminal mischief. However, if you are repeatedly throwing baseballs at your neighbor’s house and one of them breaks a window, you can be charged with criminal mischief. You may not have wanted the window to break, but you were in a situation where you should have known damage was likely to occur.
It is important to note that criminal mischief only relates to the damage of property, not the possession. If you take the property of someone else without their consent, that is theft. Criminal mischief focuses solely on the damage to the property in question.
Penalties for Criminal Mischief
While criminal mischief can be easy to commit, the charges can carry serious penalties. The severity of the penalty relates to the cost of the damage. If the damage was less than $1,000, you will be charged with either a class 2 or 1 misdemeanor and face up to 18 months in jail with up to $5,000 in fines. If the damage was greater than $1,000, you will be charged with a class 3 or 4 felony and see multiple years in prison and fines as high as $750,000.