Malicious Mischief Lawyers in Tacoma Providing Dedicated Legal Representation to Clients Charged with Destruction of Property
Are you or someone you love facing a charge for malicious mischief in Washington State? These are serious charges that can be accompanied by even more serious consequences if a trial leads to a conviction. Depending on the facts relating to the malicious mischief offense, a person may be charged with a gross misdemeanor or a felony.
At South Sound Law Group, our team of attorneys and associates have decades of experience in representing clients in legal issues in and around Tacoma, WA. We have experience in malicious mischief cases and the varying categories that the charges can be split into.
To speak with a lawyer who is knowledgeable in these legal matters, please contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation.
How Does Washington State Law Define ‘Damage’ for the Charge of Malicious Mischief?
Malicious mischief charges can result from an act in which one person causes damage, either intentionally or accidentally, to another individual’s property. Examples could include slamming a door shut too hard and breaking the glass, throwing a rock at a window, striking a car with a baseball bat, and breaking a piece of art. In Washington State, the damage defined in criminal mischief charges can extend to the negative alteration or deletion of data, records, programs, and computer files.
Washington State defines damage for these charges as ‘the total or partial alteration, damage, obliteration, or erasure’ of property owned by another person that exists either in the physical or digital space.
Depending on the value of the items damaged, the intention behind the acts, and other varying factors like potentially other crimes committed in the act, these malicious mischief allegations could be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
What Are the Potential Penalties for a Malicious Mischief Charge and Conviction?
Malicious Mischief in the Third Degree:
- A person may be found guilty of third-degree malicious mischief if they knowingly or recklessly caused damage to someone else’s personal property. Those caught painting illegal and unwanted graffiti on a public or private building may also be charged with malicious mischief in the third degree.
- A person might be charged with malicious mischief in the third degree if the property that was damaged had a value less than $50. This is the smallest of the mischief crimes, with a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
- If the damaged property is worth more than $50 but less than $250, it also constitutes malicious mischief in the third degree but, in this case, will be charged as a gross misdemeanor. If convicted, the defendant could face a maximum sentence of a year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.
Malicious Mischief in the Second Degree:
- Malicious mischief in the second degree is a serious crime and will be charged as a Class C felony. Those convicted could face a maximum sentence of five years of jail time and/or fines up to $10,000.
- A person may be charged with second-degree malicious mischief if they knowingly and maliciously caused damage to someone’s property that was valued anywhere between approximately $750 and $5,000.
- Additionally, those who the court feels endangered the public in any way, such as illegally tampering with the city’s water, electricity, internet, phone, or public transit, may also be found guilty of second-degree malicious mischief.
Malicious Mischief in the First Degree:
- First-degree malicious mischief is charged as a Class B felony, which comes with it the risk of up to a decade in prison and/or fines up to $20,000.
- A person may be guilty of malicious mischief in the first degree if they knowingly or maliciously caused physical damages to an amount exceeding $5,000 in value.
- Those who damaged or impaired public service functions in any way, and those who endangered the operations and safety of an aircraft, will be charged with first-degree malicious mischief.
What Are Your Options if You’re Facing a Malicious Mischief Charge?
Though it is important that the accused respect the potential penalties they could be facing in the criminal justice system, it is just as important to note that they are not without hope. It is possible to build a strong criminal defense that may challenge the charges or argue for lesser sentencing from the prosecution.
But in order to have a good chance of building such a criminal defense, the accused must speak with an experienced malicious mischief attorney familiar with the state laws without further delay. Only with capable and knowledgeable legal representation will a defendant’s legal rights be properly defended in a court of law.
Contact the criminal defense lawyers of South Sound Law Group to schedule a free case evaluation today. The sooner our attorneys have a chance to review the facts of your case, the sooner they will be able to begin crafting your legal defense.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Our Washington State Law Firm Today
The word ‘mischief’ might inspire us to think of silliness or youthful pranks. But in criminal law, malicious mischief is a very serious charge that can result in consequences like the loss of your freedom and costly fines. If you or a loved one have been charged with malicious mischief, it is absolutely imperative that you seek the legal services of a professional criminal defense attorney.
South Sound Law Group lawyers have decades of experience providing clients in need with the legal representation they deserve. Our law offices are in Tacoma, but we have served clients like yourself all across western Washington State.
To schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney, contact our law firm at 253-383-3328.