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New York Penal Law § 145.12 – Criminal Mischief in the First Degree

New York Criminal Attorneys Dedicated to Pursuing the Best Possible Result for Cases Charged with Serious Property Crimes

Criminal Mischief in the First Degree, like all criminal mischief offenses, is a property crime that makes it against the law to intentionally damage property belonging to another. Specifically, prosecutors bring charges of Criminal Mischief in the First Degree when the evidence suggests someone used an explosive device to cause damage to another’s property, regardless of the amount of damage actually caused. Criminal Mischief in the First Degree is a Class D felony, making it one of the most serious property crimes in the New York Penal Law.

What Are the Elements of Criminal Mischief in the First Degree?

All are made up of certain elements. It is up to the prosecution to present evidence that proves each element beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution cannot meet each of the elements, the judge or jury must enter a not guilty verdict.

The elements of Criminal Mischief in the First Degree are:

  • The defendant damaged another’s property by using explosives;
  • The defendant intended to damage 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.

Importantly, the NY Penal Law considers property that is jointly owned to be “another’s property” for the purposes of the four criminal mischief offenses. Thus, if you and another person own property together, and you damage the property without the joint owner’s permission, you could face criminal mischief charges despite the fact you also own the property.

Examples of Criminal Mischief in the First Degree

Some common examples of Criminal Mischief in the First Degree include the following:

  • A disgruntled employee places an explosive in the workplace that detonates after business hours and doesn’t cause in any injuries; and
  • A woman who finds out her husband has been unfaithful plants and detonates a bomb on her husband’s lover’s parked car.
Related Offenses to NY Penal Law § 145.12

Often, prosecutors bring Criminal Mischief in the 1st Degree charges along with one or more of the following:

  • Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree – NY Penal Law § 145.05
  • Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree – NY Penal Law § 145.10
  • Reckless Endangerment of Property – NY Penal Law § 145.25
  • Arson in the Third Degree – NY Penal Law § 150.10
  • Arson in the Second Degree – NY Penal Law § 150.15
  • Arson in the First Degree – NY Penal Law § 150.20
  • Terrorism – NY Penal Law § 490.20
  • Domestic Act of Terrorism Motivated by Hate in the Second Degree – NY Penal Law § 490.27
  • Domestic Act of Terrorism Motivated by Hate in the First Degree – NY Penal Law § 490.28
What Are the Defenses to Criminal Mischief in the 1st Degree?

There are several defenses to Criminal Mischief in the First 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:

  • The property you damaged belonged exclusively to you;
  • You held the honest belief that you had a legal right to damage or destroy the property;
  • You damaged another’s property, but without the use of explosives; and
  • A lawfully possessed explosive detonated on accident.

Notably, the fact that no one was injured is not a defense to Criminal Mischief in the First Degree. Similarly, under NY Penal Law § 110.00, it is a crime to attempt to detonate an explosive to cause property damage, even if the attempt is unsuccessful.

What Are the Penalties for a Criminal Mischief Conviction Under NY Penal Law § 145.12?

Criminal Mischief in the First Degree is considered a Class B felony. In New York, Class B felony offenses are punishable by a maximum sentence term of up to seven years in prison as well as a fine of as much as $30,000.

Are You Looking for an Experienced Defense Lawyer to Help You Fight a Criminal Mischief Case?

Criminal Mischief in the First Degree is an extremely serious crime, which carries an equally serious sentence if you’re convicted. That being the case, if you face charges of this magnitude, it’s imperative that you retain a New York criminal defense lawyer who will take your case as seriously as you do. At Tilem & Associates, P.C., we have assembled a team of passionate, dedicated lawyers who represent clients, not cases, and we will do everything within our power to protect your rights, your future, and your freedom. 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.

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