What Are the Penalties for Vandalism in New Jersey?

If you’re caught destroying or damaging someone else’s property, you can face vandalism charges. Vandalism charges should not be taken lightly in New Jersey. Whether charged as an adult or juvenile, you’re looking at harsh penalties. Depending on the property damage and its value, this offense could be punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. That said, if you’ve been charged with vandalism, it’s in your best interest to contact a talented Bergen County Criminal Defense Attorney who can fight to have the case dismissed or otherwise resolved on favorable terms, avoiding extended jail time. 

What are vandalism charges?

In New Jersey, vandalism is labeled as “criminal mischief.” Criminal mischief can take on several forms. However, it is defined as the deliberate destruction or damage of another person’s tangible property. Under the law, a person is guilty of criminal mischief if they purposely, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently damage another’s property with fire, explosives, or other dangerous means.

It’s crucial to note that graffiti also falls under criminal mischief. Contrary to popular belief, graffiti is not limited to spray painting a wall. It can include any form of artistic defacement of a building, car, structure, wall, etc. Therefore, any drawings, paintings, marks, or inscriptions on public or private property without the owner’s consent. , similar to vandalism

What are the potential penalties for vandalism in New Jersey?

Generally, vandalism charges are based on the value of the damage done and the type of property allegedly damaged. Those convicted of criminal mischief will be held responsible for all expenses related to restoring the damaged property. If the damage caused is valued at less than $500, you will likely be looking at a disorderly person’s offense. For a petty disorderly offense, you could be subject to fines of up to $1,000 and jail time of up to 30 days. If the damage is valued at over $500 but less than $2,000, it will be considered a fourth-degree offense. If convicted, you could be subject to up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

Furthermore, if the damage caused is valued at $2,00o or more, it will be considered a third-degree offense. If convicted, this offense is punishable by 3 to 5 years in jail and a fine of up to $15,000. Juveniles will be tried in family court for vandalism-related offenses. The judge may sentence a minor to a state juvenile facility in severe cases. Juveniles may face two years for third-degree offenses, one year for a fourth-degree offense, and six months for a disorderly person’s offense. For graffiti charges, a person will likely be required to pay for the damages and perform community service, including removing the graffiti.

As you can see, the penalties for criminal mischief are no laughing matter. Without proper legal representation, you could find yourself with a criminal record. A criminal mischief conviction can negatively impact your future employment opportunities and ability to pursue a higher education. Please don’t hesitate to contact a determined Bergen County criminal defense attorney from the Law Office of Carl Spector today. We have the experience to help protect you from an uncertain future.