Criminal Mischief, 18 Pa.C.S.A. 3304
A charge of criminal mischief, in violation of 18 Pa.C.S.A § 3304, is basically an allegation that a person damaged the property of another person. Some of the subsections of the law involve the use of fire and explosives, paintball guns, paint cans for graffiti, or simply just damaging property through any means.
The grading and penalties of Pennsylvania criminal mischief charges are primarily based upon the monetary loss to the damaged property. The greater the value the financial loss is the more severe the charge and the harsher the penalties.
You May Be Required to Pay Restitution for Damage to Property
A conviction of criminal mischief may result in a sentence of probation or jail time, and payment of costs and fines. A sentence for a charge of criminal mischief will almost assuredly contain a requirement that the person pay restitution.
The restitution amount is generally the value of the damage caused or the reduction in the value of the property as a result of the damage. The value of the loss is often a disputed issue as the person who caused the damages wants to have the lowest loss amount to reduce the severity of the charges, whereas some victims use the opportunity to inflate the value and thereby receive a higher payment from the defendant.
Since payment of restitution is made an express requirement of the criminal sentence, a failure to pay will result in a sentencing revocation proceeding as part of either a probation or parole violation and may result in a sentence of jail time.
We Can Help You Resolve a Criminal Mischief Case
Some criminal mischief cases in which the person is a first-time offender may be resolved by participating in a probation without verdict program that is called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) in Pennsylvania.
In other cases, there may be a dispute over the value of the damage caused, and the value issue must often be determined by a jury after it hears all the evidence. The prosecution would also be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person charged actually caused the damage.