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The Penalties for Criminal Mischief in Florida


We have all heard stories of scorned lovers who slashed tires and started fires with their ex’s property. And a common theme in many aspects of pop culture, from movies to music, involves people who believe that they have been jilted becoming so angry with someone else that they physically destroy that person’s property.

Here in Florida, the intentional physical destruction, or vandalism, of another person’s property is considered the crime of criminal mischief. This is a wide-encompassing offense that can occur between ex-lovers, family members, or even coworkers.

The Tampa Bay Times recently reported that a local substitute teacher has been charged with a third-degree felony of damaging property and criminal mischief after she allegedly spread human feces on the tables and grills of a local park. According to the Sheriff’s Office, the teacher told authorities that she had intentionally placed the fecal matter because of a professional dispute with a Sarasota County School District principal who was scheduled to host a birthday party for her daughter in the park that morning. The damage to the park reportedly totaled more than $2,300.

Though criminal mischief does not involve a crime against another person, and even when the person being accused of this crime is innocent, this is still a serious accusation that carries significant potential penalties.

What Are the Potential Penalties?

There are three categories of penalties for conviction of criminal mischief under Florida law.

  • If the criminal mischief you have been accused of caused damage valued at $200 or less, then the offense is a 2nd-degree misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail with 6 months probation and up to a $500 fine.
  • If the accused damage is more than $200 but does not exceed $1000, the offense is a 1st-degree misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail, 1 year probation, and up to a $1000 fine.
  • Damage valued over $1000 carries the most severe penalties, including the offense of a 3rd-degree felony that carries a sentence of up to 5 years imprisonment and up to a $5000 fine.

Is Mischief Commonly Associated With Other Criminal Charges?

Yes. Being that criminal mischief is often an emotionally charged crime, it probably comes as no surprise that it is commonly charged in domestic violence cases.  Further, criminal mischief charges are also not unusual in the context of burglary cases. Whether an accused burglar broke a window in order to gain access to the house or broke items during the course of searching for a valuable item, a criminal mischief charge can be implemented regardless of the value of the items allegedly taken.

Does the Damage Done to Someone Else’s Property Have to Be Severe?
Are There Defenses?

No. A criminal mischief charge can be incurred for even minor damage when the behavior that caused it was intentional. Therefore, unintentional and accidental property damage is not a crime. An experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate the circumstances of your charges and advise you of how to proceed with your defense.

Are You Facing Criminal Mischief Charges? Allow Us to Help.

Regardless of whether you have been falsely accused of something you didn’t do, or simply made a mistake in a moment of anger, we can help. If you are facing criminal mischief charges, you need an attorney who will fight for you. As a former prosecutor with extensive criminal experience on both sides of the legal system, Donald C. Barrett, P.A. is the Tampa criminal defense attorney you want on your side when facing a criminal mischief charge. Schedule a consultation today.


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