Facing a criminal mischief charge in Fort Lauderdale can feel overwhelming, but the property crimes attorneys at Rossen Law Firm are here to aggressively defend your case and get the best results possible. Contact our firm today to schedule a strategy session with a South Florida criminal mischief lawyer. A can of spray paint is pictured in front of a graffiti wall.

What is a Criminal Mischief Crime?

Criminal mischief involves intentionally damaging someone else’s property.

According to Florida Statute 806.13 a person commits criminal mischief if he or she willfully and maliciously injures or damages by any means any real or personal property belonging to another, including, but not limited to, the placement of graffiti thereon or other acts of vandalism thereto.

As an attorney can further explain, this basically means that if you willfully damage or deface anyone else’s property in South Florida, you are looking at being arrested for criminal mischief (vandalism) charges.

 The prosecutor is required to prove the following three elements in a criminal mischief case:

  1. You damaged or destroyed property
  2. The property damaged belonged to the victim
  3. You acted in a willful or malicious manner

Penalties for a Criminal Mischief (Vandalism) Charge in Fort Lauderdale

Criminal mischief is a second-degree misdemeanor when the property damage is $200 or less, and a first-degree misdemeanor when the damage runs between $200-$1,000. These charges are punishable by up to 60 days or 1 year in jail, respectively.

If the amount of damage is over $1,000, the crime is a third-degree felony, which can result in up to 5 years of prison time.

The monetary amount of the damage is what determines the severity of both the charge and the penalty. Broken down:

  • When the property damage is valued at $200 or less, the person commits a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail.
  • When the property damage is greater than $200 but less than $1,000, the offense is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail.
  • When the amount of damage to the property exceeds $1,000, the offense is a third degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment.

What does that mean? It means that you could commit the exact same crime as another person and still be leveled with a higher charge if the amount of damages is higher. You can be charged with a felony Criminal Mischief charge for damaging a more expensive car. Technically it’s the same crime as damaging a cheaper car, but the luxury car is going to cost a lot more to fix, which can mean the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony.

Thankfully there are many defenses available to fight criminal mischief charges, but you’ll need a skilled attorney serving Fort Lauderdale to make the best case on your behalf.


If you’re facing a criminal mischief charge – you’ve come to the right place. Rossen Law Firm has extensive experience providing a compassionate and expert defense to criminal mischief charges in Fort Lauderdale.

We believe criminal mischief is typically a cry for help, not the actions of a hardened criminal. After all, we believe that bad things can happen to good people.

Give our office a call if you’re facing criminal mischief charges. We’ll listen to your story, discuss the best course of action for you and see what resources may help you. One mistake shouldn’t have the power to ruin your life – and our South Florida criminal mischief lawyers will fight to make sure it doesn’t.

Criminal Mischief Defenses

  • Ownership of Destroyed Property: An element of criminal mischief is that the State has to prove in order for a criminal conviction to occur is ownership, or co-ownership of the property that was damaged. A co-owner of the property cannot be convicted of Criminal Mischief unless the complainant had a higher level of legal power in the property.
  • Alibi: An alibi is a claim or piece of evidence that the person accused of a crime was elsewhere when an act was alleged to take place. If the defendant was not the individual who committed the misconduct then the defense of alibi can be used by a defense attorney to argue that their client was not the one who committed the crime.
  • Duress or Necessity: When asserting the Duress or Necessity defense, it is the criminal defense attorney’s burden to prove that the only reason the crime was committed was due to the person’s circumstances, as opposed to negating the prosecution’s evidence of an element of the crime. The defense of Duress and Necessity could be used for a criminal mischief charge if the accused committed the crime in self defense.

Other Defenses include:

  • ​Proving the damage was accidental, not intentional
  • Proving it was not the conduct of the accused that actually caused the damage
  • Proving legal justification or extenuating circumstances for the accused conduct
  • Proving the conduct that caused the damage was due to self defense

Free Criminal Mischief Criminal Defense Strategy Session

We handle criminal mischief cases of all types. We know how to protect your rights and provide you with a personalized and aggressive defense to your criminal charges.

Every case is different and appropriate defenses depend on the circumstances surrounding your individual case. If you’re facing criminal mischief charges we’d be happy to help.

Our firm offers a FREE strategy sessions so you know how we’ll work to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.


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