In New Jersey, criminal mischief is a property damage crime. As the law explains, you could be charged with and possibly found guilty of criminal mischief if you:
- Purposely or knowingly damaged someone else’s property, or recklessly or negligently damaged someone else’s property by fire or explosives, or
- Purposely, knowingly, or recklessly tampered with someone else’s property so that such tampering endangers someone or some property.
The charge and potential sentence you face depends on the specifics of your case.
NJ Criminal Mischief: 3rd Degree Offense Penalties
Criminal mischief is categorized as a 3rd degree crime if any of the following apply:
- If the act knowingly causes loss of $2,000 or more,
- If the act causes a substantial interruption or impairment of a public utility, communication system or public transportation,
- If the damage involves damaging, defacing, altering, or causes the loss of property used at a research facility or causes disruption to the facility, or
- If the act involves tampering with any grave, crypt or mausoleum with the intent of destroying or stealing any part thereof including human remains.
In New Jersey, crimes categorized as 3rd degree carry a potential sentence of up to 3 to 5 years in a state penitentiary.
NJ Criminal Mischief: 4th Degree Offense Penalties
Criminal mischief can be charged as a 4th degree offense under the following circumstances:
- If the act knowingly causes loss of between $500 and $2,000,
- If it involves damaging, removing, or impairing such air traffic devices as lights, signs, and signals, or
- If it involves tampering with any airport, landing field, airport, or aviation facility.
4th degree crimes carry a potential prison sentence of up to 18 months.
NJ Criminal Mischief: Disorderly Person Offense – Penalties
If you commit criminal mischief and the damage is valued at less than $500, you will be charged with a disorderly person offense. These offenses carry a possible penalty of up to 6 months in county jail.
Ref: New Jersey Statutes §2C: 17-3