Penalties for Damaging Property in Florida

A great number of people have destroyed someone else’s property at some point in time. A father may have thrown his teenage daughter’s short skirt into a burning fireplace. An angry girlfriend may have crushed her boyfriend’s cellphone when she learned he was being unfaithful. An eighth grader may have stepped on a rival student’s video game in the middle of a heated argument. We’ve all heard similar stories and experienced them firsthand at some point in our lives.

The problem is, it’s a crime to damage another’s personal property in Florida. Under Section 806.13 of the Florida Statutes, you can be charged with criminal mischief if you willfully and maliciously damage someone else’s personal property by any means, including placing graffiti on an object.

Examples of criminal mischief:

  • Throwing a cellphone into a toilet.
  • Writing graffiti on a bathroom stall wall or door.
  • Stepping on another’s purse or backpack.
  • Tossing a fellow student’s backpack into a lake, pool or river.
  • Slashing the tires on another’s bicycle.
  • Snapping a CD or DVD into pieces.
  • Cutting someone else’s clothing.
  • Burning someone’s book.

Criminal mischief is no laughing matter. It may seem like a minor offense but if the damage is costly enough, it can be prosecuted as a felony of the third degree in some cases. The penalties typically depend on the damage to the property. For instance, if the damage is $200 or less, it is a misdemeanor of the second degree.

If the damage to the property is more than $200, but less than $1,000, it’s a misdemeanor of the first degree. If the damage is $1,000 or more, or if the damage caused an interruption in a business’s operations, or if it interrupted public communication, gas or power, transportation or another public service, which cost at least $1,000 to restore, the offense is a felony of the third degree.

Note: If the damage was caused by a minor, then his or her parents or legal guardian may be liable to pay the fine.

If you or someone you love is facing criminal mischief charges in West Palm Beach, I urge you to contact my firm at (561) 475-2752 for a FREE consultation.


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