What is Criminal Mischief?

Criminal mischief is generally defined as the intentional damaging, destroying, or tampering with another person’s property without their consent. The intent to cause damage or inconvenience to the property owner is a key element in establishing the offense of criminal mischief. Criminal mischief is a serious offense that encompasses a range of destructive behaviors and property damage. In New York, criminal mischief laws are in place to protect individuals and their property from intentional harm. In this article, we will delve into the details of criminal mischief in New York, including its classifications, and the legal consequences associated with the offense.

Classification of Criminal Mischief

In New York, the severity of the offense and the associated penalties depend on the value of the property damage and the circumstances surrounding the act. Criminal mischief is classified into four degrees. Fourth Degree Criminal Mischief is the least severe degree of criminal mischief and applies when the property damage exceeds $250. Second Degree Criminal Mischief applies when the property damage exceeds $1500. First Degree Criminal Mischief is the most severe degree of criminal mischief. First Degree applies when the property damage is done by means of an explosive. It is a Class B felony, with potential imprisonment of up to 25 years.

Legal Consequences and Defenses

When charged with criminal mischief in New York, it is essential to understand the potential legal consequences and available defenses. In addition to imprisonment and fines, individuals convicted of criminal mischief may face restitution orders, requiring them to compensate the property owner for the damage caused. Common defenses against criminal mischief charges include lack of intent, consent, and mistaken identity. If the defendant can demonstrate that they did not intend to cause damage to the property, then lack of intent might be a viable defense. If the property owner consented to the defendant’s actions, it can be argued that there was no criminal mischief due to consent. If the prosecution cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was responsible for the property damage, a mistaken identity defense may be successful.


Criminal mischief in New York involves the intentional damaging, destroying, or tampering with another person’s property. The severity of the offense depends on the value of the property damage and the circumstances involved. It is crucial to understand the legal consequences and available defenses if facing criminal mischief charges. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential to navigate the legal process, build a strong defense, and protect one’s rights. Remember, respecting the property of others is not only a legal obligation but also an important aspect of being a responsible member of society.

Contact Us

If you or someone you know is charged with a crime relating to criminal mischief, reach out to a competent criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At The Law Office of Yifei He PLLC, our lawyer has years of experience helping clients overcome a wide range of legal barriers. With our attorney by your side, you can navigate this process with efficiency and confidence.

Request your initial consultation by calling 1 (917) 338-7678 or sending us an online message today.