If you are accused of damaging another person’s property in Washington state, the most common criminal charge is Malicious Mischief. There are a few different scenarios that could be considered 1st degree malicious mischief. You may be facing this charge if the prosecution has probable cause to believe you did any of the following:
- Caused physical damage to someone else’s property where the damage was valued at more than $1,500,
- Caused an interruption or impairment of public service by damaging or tampering with an emergency vehicle, property of the state, a public utility, public transportation, power, or communication, or
- Caused an impairment of safety or efficiency of an aircraft by damaging or tampering with the equipment, fuel, lubricant, or parts.
Malicious Mischief is a Class B felony that carries a potential sentence of up to 10 years in prison and fines reaching $20,000.
Ref: RCW 9A.48.070
2nd Degree Malicious Mischief
A 2nd degree malicious mischief charge applies when you cause damage to someone else’s property and the damage is valued at more than $250, or if you create a substantial risk of impairment or interruption of a public service or utility.
Malicious mischief in the 2nd degree is a Class C felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Ref: RCW 9A.48.080
3rd Degree Malicious Mischief
The least serious of malicious mischief offenses, 3rd degree malicious mischief is applicable under a few different circumstances.
You can commit 3rd degree malicious mischief if you knowingly and maliciously cause damage to someone else’s property. If the damage valued at more than $50, you will be charged with a gross misdemeanor and sentenced to up to 1 year in jail and $5000 in fines. If the damage is valued at less than $50, you will face a misdemeanor charge and a potential 90 day jail sentence and $1,000 in fines.
3rd Degree malicious mischief also applies if you write, paint, or draw any mark on a public or private building or property of another without permission. In cases where the damage does not qualify for 1st or 2nd degree malicious mischief, you will face a gross misdemeanor charge and up to 1 year in jail and $5,000 in fines.
Ref: RCW 9A.48-090