If you have been charged with federal vandalism or criminal mischief in Florida, it is in your best interest to seek immediate legal counsel. All criminal charges can result in hefty fines, time behind bars, and a permanent criminal record, but federal charges often carry more serious consequences.
What is Vandalism?
Generally speaking, vandalism is the willful destruction, defacing, or damaging of another’s property. The act of vandalism, which occurs when a person willfully and maliciously damages another’s property, is charged as criminal mischief in Florida. Whether the offense is charged as a misdemeanor or felony, and in state or federal court, depends on various factors. Penalties for vandalism or criminal mischief can be severe, and anyone charged with this offense should seek immediate legal counsel.
At the Law Office of Nayib Hassan, our team of federal defense lawyers has successfully defended countless clients against all types of federal crimes, including vandalism and criminal mischief. We will analyze the details of your case, determine the most appropriate legal strategy, and position you for the best possible outcome. Contact the Law Office of Nayib Hassan today for a confidential consultation about your case.
What Qualifies As a Vandalism or ‘Criminal Mischief’ Offense in Florida?
Vandalism occurs when someone willfully destroys or otherwise damages another’s property in a manner that diminishes the value of that property. For example, taking a baseball bat to the hood of an ex’s car or painting your name on the side of their house are both examples of vandalism.
Other examples of vandalism include:
- Keying a car
- Slashing a car’s tires
- Carving your name into a tree at a public park
- Spray painting graffiti in a subway station
- Smashing windows in an abandoned building
- Knocking over gravestones at a cemetery
To be convicted of vandalism, certain elements must have been present. These include:
- The act must have caused actual damage to another’s property, such as covering public property with stickers, spray painting a vehicle, smashing windows, or carving words into a public park bench;
- The property must have been owned by someone other than the accused, and the accused must not have had permission to damage the property; and
- The act must have been intentional. Accidentally breaking someone’s window does not constitute vandalism.
Vandalism charges may be elevated to a felony if the property damaged was a church, mosque, synagogue, or other place of worship, and the total damage exceeded $200. Otherwise, vandalism is generally charged as a misdemeanor offense.
What Are Potential Penalties For Vandalism?
The penalties for vandalism vary widely based on the cost of property damage, the type of property, and various other circumstances, such as whether the individual has a prior criminal history. When determining how the crime is charged, the total price tag on the damage and the type of property are significant factors. Certain types of property can actually turn the offense into a federal crime.
- Property damage valued at $200 or less will be charged as a second degree misdemeanor, with up to 60 days imprisonment, and a fine of up to $500;
- Property damage valued at between $201 and $999 will be charged as a first degree misdemeanor, with up to one year imprisonment, and a fine of up to $1,000;
- Property damage valued at $1,000 or more will be charged as a third degree felony, with up to five years imprisonment, and a fine of up to $5,000;
- Property damage that disrupts a public service, such as public transportation, water supply, communication, or power may also be charged as a third degree felony, with up to five years imprisonment, and a fine of up to $5,000; and
- The willful and malicious defacing of a church, mosque, synagogue, or other place of worship may also be charged as a third degree felony, with up to five years imprisonment, and a fine of up to $5,000.
It is important to note that the penalties above are reserved for state offenses. If you are tried in federal court, you could be facing up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
When Does Vandalism Become a Federal Crime?
It is illegal to intentionally damage another’s property, but when that property happens to belong to the federal government, the defendant will be tried in federal court. Considering that federal crimes are generally punished more seriously than state crimes, it is essential to seek immediate legal counsel, even if the property damage was minimal.
The term federal property doesn’t only apply to government buildings. Historic buildings, parks, government structures, and any property being constructed or manufactured for the United States is considered to be federal property.
Furthermore, a defendant does not have to know that the property in question belongs to the United States to be charged with a federal crime. Contact a Florida federal criminal defense attorney today if you are facing charges for any type of federal offense.
Penalties for federal vandalism can be severe. If the damage exceeds $100, the defendant may be facing 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Even when the damage totals $100 or less, the defendant may face a fine of up to $100,000, and up to one year imprisonment.
What To Do If You’ve Been Charged With a Federal Vandalism Crime
It is critical to work with a federal criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with any federal crime, including federal vandalism. Federal offenses, which are prosecuted by a federal agency, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), frequently carry much harsher penalties than their state counterparts. Not to mention, being investigated by a federal agency is a particularly stressful and disruptive process.
Federal prosecutors are notoriously aggressive. This is one of the primary reasons that more than 90 percent of federal defendants are convicted of the charges against them. Do not attempt to go through this difficult time without the help of skilled legal counsel.
Contact the Law Office of Nayib Hassan Today
If you are facing charges for federal vandalism or criminal mischief in Florida, the skilled legal team at the Law Office of Nayib Hassan can help. We will fight aggressively to defend your rights and position you for the most favorable outcome. Do not attempt to go through this complex process without the help of a skilled federal crimes attorney by your side. Contact the Law Office of Nayib Hassan to schedule a confidential consultation today.