You’ve been hanging out with friends, and they started getting into graffiti. You didn’t know how to feel about it because you saw them spray painting people’s homes and businesses.
Then, one day, you decided to get in on the action and participate. They had teased you to a breaking point, so you finally picked up a can to tag a bridge. It was, of course, at that moment when a police officer stopped all of you. You ended up under arrest for vandalism.
Vandalism happens when someone damages property in some way. New York classifies it under two different kinds of property crimes. One is criminal mischief and the other is criminal tampering.
With criminal mischief, the degree of the charge is based on:
- The type of property that was damaged
- How you damaged the property
- The cost of the damage
- Whether the damage was or was not intentional
At a minimum, criminal mischief in the fourth degree leads to fines to cover the cost of damage to the property. At worst, you could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison for significant damage to a structure.
Criminal tampering is a different crime completely. Criminal tampering in the first degree is the most serious charge, which carries with it a penalty of up to seven years in prison along with a felony.
In either case, you face significant charges and penalties. It’s important to take steps to defend yourself and to try to minimize the charges that you face as well as the penalties that apply. Our website has more information if you’ve been accused of property crimes as a result of vandalism.