In the grand scheme of things, vandalism — or “criminal mischief” — may seem like an innocent crime when compared to other, more harmful offenses. However, vandalism — whether it involves graffiti, smashing windows or keying a car — is a criminal offense. As a result, any person charged with the crime faces criminal penalties. FindLaw details the legal consequences for criminal mischief.
Criminal mischief that results in no more than $200 worth of property damage is a misdemeanor of the second-degree in Florida. A second-degree misdemeanor charge comes with the possibility of up to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine or both.
If the property damage exceeds $200 but is no more than $999, the state elevates the crime to a first-degree misdemeanor. A first-degree misdemeanor conviction comes with a prison sentence of up to one year, a $1,000 fine or both.
When criminal mischief results in more than $1,000 worth of property damage, the state may charge the offender with a third-degree felony. This is also the case if the criminal mischief resulted in the interruption of public communication, business operations, water supply, transportation, power, gas or other public service, and if said interruption cost the city more than $1,000 in labor and materials to restore. A third-degree felony in Florida carries a prison term of up to five years, a $5,000 fine or both.
Finally, if a person commits vandalism to a synagogue, church, mosque or other place of worship, and if the value of the damage exceeds $200, the state will automatically categorize the crime as a third-degree felony. This carries the same punishment as described above.