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Mount Holly Criminal Defense Lawyer Discusses Juvenile Vandalism Charges

Criminal mischief is a crime in which the actor knowingly and purposely damages or destroys another person’s property, or the actor purposely and recklessly tampers with property in an effort to cause harm to others or their property.  Criminal mischief is commonly known as vandalism and may or may not include the use of fire, explosives, or other dangerous materials.  Criminal mischief laws apply to both adults and juveniles; however, in most vandalism cases the defendant is a juvenile.

Minors often act impulsively due to immaturity or peer pressure, without much regard for potential consequences.  What starts out as a harmless prank may ultimately result in criminal mischief charges that could have serious repercussions.

There are several degrees of juvenile criminal mischief, and the degree of each case is determined by the dollar amount of the damage caused.  In all cases a defendant could incur fines and be required to pay restitution to the victim. The degree of an offense will determine the potential incarceration penalties that a defendant faces if convicted.

  • If the amount of property damage does not exceed $500, the charge is considered a Disorderly Persons Offense and is punishable by up to six months in a juvenile detention center.
  • If the value of the damaged property is between $500 and $2,000, it constitutes a fourth degree offense, and a defendant may be sentenced to up to one year in a juvenile detention center.
  • If property damage exceeds $2,000, the defendant is charged in the third degree and could face up to two years in a juvenile detention center.

In addition to fines and detention, and often most concerning to parents, juvenile criminal mischief charges can result in a permanent criminal record.  A criminal record may jeopardize a child’s future, particularly if he or she plans to apply to colleges.  The goal of a juvenile criminal mischief defense is to minimize the effect that the incident has on a child’s future, ideally by getting the charges dismissed.  If a dismissal is not possible, an experienced juvenile defense lawyer will fight to have the defendant accepted into a deferred disposition program.  This program is essentially a probation period. After a juvenile stays out of trouble for the duration of probation, he or she can walk away with a clean record.

The New Jersey criminal mischief laws are worded in broad terms, which allow a prosecutor to charge a defendant for a wide variety of actions.  “Toilet papering” houses, spray painting graffiti, and “egging” cars or houses are common teenage stunts that could result in vandalism charges.  Even if your child merely intended to play a harmless prank, there could be serious consequences for his or her behavior if things go awry and he or she causes property damage.

Mount Holly Criminal Lawyer Represents Juveniles Charged with Criminal Mischief in South Jersey

If your son or daughter has been charged with juvenile criminal mischief in New Jersey, you will need to hire a highly skilled criminal lawyer to fight for the best possible outcome of your child’s case.  Michele Finizio has the knowledge and experience necessary to provide an effective defense in criminal and juvenile court.  Call the Law Offices of Michele Finizio at 609-230-0374 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a free confidential consultation.  Our Mount Holly criminal lawyers are located in Moorestown, NJ and serve clients in Mount Holly and Cherry Hill, Camden County, Burlington County, Gloucester County, and Salem County.

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I could not have asked for a better attorney. Michele Finizio treated my cases and the cases of those I've recommended, as if we were part of her family.

-D.A.