New York Penal Law § 145.05 – Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree
Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree is a New York property crime prohibiting the intentional and unlawful destruction of certain property. Specifically, Criminal Mischief in the 3rd Degree applies to situations where a defendant is alleged to have caused more than $250 in damage. The offense also provides enhanced penalties for those who have prior criminal mischief convictions and are again charged with breaking into a motor vehicle. Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree is a Class E felony.The Elements of Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree
All criminal offenses have certain elements. It’s up to the prosecution to prove every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt; otherwise, the judge or jury must find the defendant not guilty. There are two ways to commit Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree:
Repeat Motor Vehicle Offenses:
- The defendant damaged another person’s motor vehicle;
- The defendant intended to cause damage to the vehicle; or
- The defendant had no legal right to do so and did not have a reasonable belief they were entitled to do so;
- The defendant did so by breaking into the vehicle with the intent of stealing property; and
- The defendant has three or more criminal mischief convictions within the past ten years.
Damage in Excess of $250:
- The defendant caused damage to another’s property, totaling $250 or more;
- The defendant intended to cause damage to the property; and
- The defendant had no legal right to do so and did not have a reasonable belief they were entitled to do so.
Some common examples of Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree include the following:
- A defendant who has three prior criminal mischief convictions breaks into a car to steal a purse;
- A person breaks the windshield of their ex-partner’s car, causing $450 in damage; and
- An employee intentionally causes damage to their employer’s property in excess of $250.
Often, prosecutors bring Criminal Mischief in the 3rd Degree charges along with one or more of the following:
- Possession of Graffiti Instruments – NY Penal Law § 145.65
- Reckless Endangerment of Property – NY Penal Law § 145.25
- Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree – NY Penal Law § 145.00
- Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree – NY Penal Law § 145.10
- Criminal Mischief in the First Degree – NY Penal Law § 145.12
- Criminal Tampering in the Third Degree – NY Penal Law § 145.14
- Criminal Tampering in the Second Degree – NY Penal Law § 145.15
- Criminal Tampering in the First Degree – NY Penal Law § 145.20
There are several defenses to Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree. A successful defense may reduce your sentencing exposure, result in the prosecution withdrawing the case against you, or prompt the jury to return a “not guilty” verdict. The most common defenses include the following:
- You had a legal right to damage or destroy the property (i.e., you damaged your own vehicle);
- You honestly believed that you had a right to damage or destroy the property (i.e., you thought you were destroying your own property or you thought you had the owner’s permission);
- Any damage you caused was accidental; and
- While you intentionally damaged property, the amount of damage cause was less than $250; and
- Although you broke a window to access the interior of a vehicle, it wasn’t to steal something (i.e., you were seeking shelter).
Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree is a Class E felony. In New York, Class E felonies carry a maximum sentence of up to four years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.Are You Looking for an Experienced Defense Lawyer to Help You Fight a Criminal Mischief Case?
If you were recently arrested for Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree, it’s important you do whatever you can to avoid a conviction, which will add a felony to your record. At Tilem & Associates, P.C., our experienced team of New York property crimes lawyers have decades of combined experience crafting compelling defenses designed to ensure our clients’ cases end in the best result possible. We are immediately available to meet with you to get started working on a compelling defense to the charges you face. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 877-377-8666. You can also reach us through our online contact form.