Criminal property destruction in Pennsylvania is charged as criminal mischief. Common circumstances of this charge are vandalism, or damage resulting from other personal or domestic disputes, revenge, road rage, or other reckless behavior that damages another person’s physical property.

Under law, there are a number of situations that can result in a charge of criminal mischief in Pennsylvania. If the prosecutor has probable cause to believe you did any of the following, you could be charged with this offense:

  1. Damaged someone else’s property either intentionally, recklessly, or negligently by fire or explosive,
  2. Intentionally or recklessly tampered with someone else’s property so as to endanger the property or to endanger some person,
  3. Intentionally or recklessly caused someone to suffer monetary or property loss by deception or threat,
  4. Intentionally defaced or damaged any property by use of graffiti,
  5. Intentionally damaged someone else’s property, or
  6. Intentionally defaced property by use of a paintball gun or marker.

The charge and potential penalty you face for this offense depends on the value of the damage done in the act.

3rd Degree Felony Criminal Mischief

The offense will be charged as a 3rd degree felony if the damage committed to property is valued at more than $5,000 or if the act causes a substantial interruption or impairment of any public utility, communication system, public transportation, or other public service.

3rd degree felony charges carry a potential sentence of up to 7 years in prison and fines.

2nd Degree Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief

You could face a 2nd degree misdemeanor criminal mischief charge if the damage done is valued at more than $1000. If convicted, you could be sentenced to up to 2 years in prison.

3rd Degree Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief

Criminal mischief is charged as a 3rd degree misdemeanor if the damage caused by the act is valued at more than $500 or if the act is done by graffiti and the value of damage is greater than $150.

3rd degree misdemeanors carry a potential penalty of up to 1 year in jail.

Summary Offense

If the details of your criminal mischief case do not fit into any of the above classifications, the charge you face will be a summary offense for property damage, punishable by up to 90 days in jail.

Ref: 18 Pa. CS 3304