CRIMINAL MISCHIEF AND RECLASSIFICATION

Under Florida law, there are certain crimes which become more serious based on how many prior convictions someone has for the same crime.  What looks like a misdemeanor may in fact become a felony charge.  Criminal mischief is one such charge.

Florida statute 806.13 defines criminal mischief as:

(1)(a) A person commits the offense of criminal mischief if he or she willfully and maliciously injures or damages by any means any real or personal property belonging to another, including, but not limited to, the placement of graffiti thereon or other acts of vandalism thereto.

The enhancement portion of the statute reads as follows:

(4) If the person has one or more previous convictions for violating this subsection, the offense under subparagraph 1. or subparagraph 2. for which the person is charged shall be reclassified as a felony of the third degree…

For the complete statute on criminal mischief, go here.

For example, if a person breaks a window of another, doing $75 damage, and it is their first criminal mischief charge, they will be charged with a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or $500 fine.

But if the same person had one prior criminal mischief conviction, they may be charged with a third degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or $5000 fine.

Criminal mischief  is not the only crime which can be reclassified.  Other crimes which can be reclassified include DUI, prostitution, petit theft, and battery.

The decision on whether or not to reclassify lies within the discretion of the State Attorney’s Office.  If you are charged with criminal mischief in Florida, make sure you hire a defense attorney who understands the reclassification scheme.

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