Damaging Another Person’s Property or Car

What Is Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree?

Criminal mischief in the third degree has two forms. First, it is when a person with prior criminal mischief convictions damages a car by breaking into it. Second, and far more common, is when someone damages another person’s property worth more than $250.

When the Charge of Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree Applies

In order to be guilty of criminal mischief in the third degree, a person needs to damage property worth more than $250 and meet two additional conditions: you need to intend to damage the property in question, and you must have no reasonable basis to believe that you are entitled to inflict the damage. Intent is an important element of this charge, and it doesn’t need to be explicit. In fact, intent can often be inferred from a person’s actions. For example, a man in New York State was convicted of third-degree criminal mischief for shoveling snow and large chunks of ice onto his neighbor’s car and breaking the windshield. Although he did not explicitly intend to break the windshield, it was a reasonably foreseeable outcome of his actions.

Criminal mischief in the third degree can also be charged in conjunction with other related crimes, such as burglary or assault. For instance, one man convicted of this charge for firing a gun out of a moving car and hitting another vehicle, along with several weapons charges. But third-degree criminal mischief can also stand alone, as with the graffiti artist who was convicted of the charge for the damage he did to the walls of buildings.

NY PENAL § 145.05: Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree

New York State’s penal code says:

A person is guilty of criminal mischief in the third degree when, with intent to damage property of another person, and having no right to do so nor any reasonable ground to believe that he or she has such right, he or she:

  1. damages the motor vehicle of another person, by breaking into such vehicle when it is locked with the intent of stealing property, and within the previous ten year period, has been convicted three or more times, in separate criminal transactions for which sentence was imposed on separate occasions, of criminal mischief in the fourth degree as defined in section 145.00, criminal mischief in the third degree as defined in this section, criminal mischief in the second degree as defined in section 145.10, or criminal mischief in the first degree as defined in section 145.12 of this article; or
  2. damages property of another person in an amount exceeding two hundred fifty dollars.

Criminal mischief in the third degree is a class E felony.

What Can Happen to Me If I Am Convicted of Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree?

Criminal mischief in the third degree is a class E felony, and if you are convicted, you can be sentenced to as much as four years in jail. Because of this you need to take this charge seriously. If you are charged on Long Island, you need to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. He will know what defense strategies are most likely to work in your case, such as challenging the value of the damaged property or the intent to inflict the damage. These tactics have worked before, but only your Long Island criminal defense lawyer can advise you about the right approach for your case.

What Should I Do Next?

If you are charged with criminal mischief in the third degree in Queens, Nassau, or Suffolk County, take the charge seriously. Do not attempt to “clear things up” with the police or prosecutors. Hire a Long Island criminal defense lawyer immediately and let him talk to the authorities on your behalf. He has the knowledge and experience to effectively represent you and to make sure that any impact on your life is minimal.

Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree
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