Criminal Mischief

Fourth Degree Criminal Mischief: NY Penal Law 145.00

There should be little doubt that Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree (New York Penal Law 145.00(1)) is the most commonly charged property damage crime in New York City and the surrounding suburban communities, but it is also the most serious. Ranging from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class B felony, a conviction for a Criminal Mischief crime can land you in jail or prison for as little as up to one year and as much as up to twenty five years. Although the misdemeanor crime of Criminal Mischief (PL 145.00(1)) is the least significant, of grave concern is that if the police or prosecutors believe your conduct was intentional (as opposed to reckless) and the property damage exceeded $250, then you could be looking at the felony offense of Third Degree Criminal Mischief (PL 145.05) It makes no difference that at the time of arrest you are charged with a misdemeanor or given a Desk Appearance Ticket. Should the evidence be viable and prosecutors believe they can prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, the offense can be elevated to a felony.

What is Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree

As simply as it can be stated, the most routine subsection of Fourth Degree Criminal Mischief charged in New York City and suburban courts involves the intentional damaging of another person's property. There is no monetary threshold for the misdemeanor crime (felony is in excess of $250 in damages). A scratch alongside the bumper or fender of a car that took your parking space, a punch through a window of an apartment or even a throwing of eye glasses against a wall. Whether the damage is $1 or $100, it makes no difference as long as you did not have permission to do what you are alleged to have done.

There are some factors in Criminal Mischief crimes that can have a direct outcome on a case and influence the manner in which it is prosecuted. First, if the crime is allegedly committed in a domestic violence context, a Desk Appearance Ticket will likely not be a viable option. An arrest may be mandatory and the District Attorney's Office will prosecute it crime in a more aggressive fashion. If, however the accused owns the property or shares ownership, there very well could be a defense. After all, the crime is based in one's lack of a right to damage property of another person. If the accused knocks over a computer and steps on the keyboard, but it is purchased by the accused or ownership is shared, there may be a strong defense to the arrest allegations.

Obviously, most Criminal Mischief arrests for violating NY PL 145.00 do not stem from domestic violence incidents. In cases involving graffiti, for example, different approaches and defenses may be necessary.

Other Fourth Degree Criminal Mischief Crimes

In addition to the intentional damaging of another person's property without the right to do so, there are other Class A misdemeanor crimes punishable by as much as one year in jail. These include:

  • PL 145.00(2) - The intention participation in the destruction of an abandoned building.
  • PL 145.00(3) - The reckless damaging of another person's property in excess of $250.00.
  • PL 145.00(4) - With the intent to prevent a person for communicating a request for emergency assistance, you intentionally disable a telephone (mobile or landline) or similar communication while the person is attempting to seek help. Although the law is a little more defined than addressed in this subsection and should be reviewed in greater detail with your Criminal Mischief attorney or lawyer, it is not a defense for this subsection to have ownership rights to that property.

Don't let an arrest for Criminal Mischief destroy your career, livelihood or jeopardize your future. Implement the best defense available and protect yourself inside and outside of the courtroom.

Call us at 212.312.7129 or contact us online today to speak with our New York attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors about misdemeanor property damage crimes.