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Criminal Mischief Basics

Criminal mischief charges come in several varieties. There are misdemeanor criminal mischief charges and there are felonies. It all depends on how much damage the state can prove and in terms of how much punishment the state can doll out for this.

Look, 94.275% of these cases are domestic in nature. A jealous lover, a cheating spouse gets back at the other person. You've watched Dateline or the Lifetime Channel, you've seen this scenario play out a 100 times. That's how these things usually play out.

The damage is typically done to a car, done to the front of a house. Things of that sort. The problem is, damage alone doesn't get you a criminal mischief charge. You have to have more than damage. If it were only damage every auto accident would be a crime. No, you've got to have malicious intent combined with damage then you potentially have a criminal charge.

Now, malicious intent is a pretty foggy notion sometimes. There was a young adult, for example, living on and off with his parents. They had a very nice ornate liquor cabinet. He decided it was time to have some of that good fine whisky that apparently his dad was saving for a special occasion.

The problem is the cabinet was locked. However, he did thousands of dollars worth of damage on the cabinet trying to get into it and get out all the liquor. The bottom line is the kid was charged with criminal mischief and the case was thrown out because the intent wasn't malicious, the intent was to drink.

So, you do find, believe it or not, that within the criminal mischief law there are nuances, there are defenses, and there are loopholes. You want to get a local attorney involved so that this thing can get fixed.

And one other caveat on a criminal mischief. Because the evidence is typically so weak on these things the cops are probably going to try to reach out to you to get a confession. Because, they just don't have enough without you confessing. The confession will come in two forms.

Number one, the person with the damaged car is going to text you "I know you did this!" Don't take the bait and get back to them, don't take the bait and rub their nose in it "Yea, I did that, you deserved it, you slept with so-and-so." No no no. Do not take the bait. Call a defense attorney immediately because you're being set up.

Or, the cops will come to your house "Hey look, we're not going to arrest you but we want to talk to you about an incident." "Do you know so-and-so?" "And, how do you know so-and-so?"

No. Don't go down that path.

At that point you've got to tell them "Look, I'd like to have an attorney here and then I'll chitter chatter all you want to talk but not until an attorney shows up. And so, lets schedule an appointment and we'll have this discussion at a later time." That's when I hope you call somebody like me, make sure they're local. Make sure they've handled a criminal mischief charge before. Most defense attorneys have, and I do wish you luck with your case.

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