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Former State Prosecutor and Criminal Trial Attorney

Former State Prosecutor

Former Atlantic County Prosecutor

Certified Criminal Trial Attorney

Experienced for over 35 years

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Atlantic City NJ Criminal Defense Lawyer Fights to Get Your Criminal Mischief Charges Dismissed

You were joking around with some friends, trying to blow off steam and someone had a dumb idea. One thing led to another and you are now facing criminal mischief charges. While it may seem like no big deal to you, it’s likely that the owner of the property you are accused of damaging doesn’t see it that way. Even a downed mailbox or simple graffiti is costly to fix and an unnecessary hassle to hard-working people who take pride in their stuff.

In fact, in New Jersey, a charge of criminal mischief, generally defined damaging property, can actually be viewed by the court as more significant a crime than you may first think. Most acts of vandalism, especially if they can be considered hate crimes, carry severe penalties. If you are found guilty of a 3rd-degree criminal mischief offense, you could be facing up to five years in jail.

John W. Tumelty is an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows his way around the courts in Atlantic and Cape May counties. Talk to him about your theft crime charges or criminal mischief charges right away because he may be able to get them reduced or dismissed.

What is Criminal Mischief in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, someone charged with criminal mischief can be facing 3rd degree criminal charges, 4th degree criminal charges or a disorderly persons offense. Each of these crimes has varying penalties attached, but they all have one thing in common: the prosecutor must prove that it was your intention to cause damage. That being said, if damage was caused because someone acted out of anger – for example, a car was keyed or a rock broke a window – a disorderly persons charge could apply.

The law covers both private and public property including buildings, fences, playground equipment, signs, etc. In most cases, even if the damage can be removed by cleaning – such as spray paint or marker – you will still face criminal mischief charges.

John Tumelty has been representing clients charged with criminal mischief for more than 35 years in Atlantic and Cape May counties. A former prosecutor, he knows how to deal with these charges because he understands how the other side thinks. Put his experience to work for you today.

What are the Penalties Associated with Criminal Mischief Charges in New Jersey?

A 3rd degree criminal mischief charge carry a potential sentence of three to five years in state prison. Criminal mischief is considered a 3rd degree offense if:

  • More than $2,000 in damages was incurred
  • Substantial impact on a public transportation, public utility or a communication system occurred
  • A research facility was damages or work at the facility was disrupted
  • The act involved property damage to a grave, cemetery, mausoleum, etc.

A NJ 4th Degree Criminal Mischief Offense carries a potential prison sentence of up to 18 months. You will be charged with a 4th degree crime if:

  • Damage incurred is valued at $500 and $2,000
  • Air traffic devices (signs, signals, lights) are removed or damaged
  • Any damage was caused at an aviation facility including an airport or landing field

The Criminal Mischief charge with the lightest penalty is considered a Disorderly Person Offense. Still you could face up to six months in jail if convicted of this charge.

A disorderly persons offense in New Jersey is defined by:

  • Criminal mischief activity that results in less than $500 in damages
  • Damage caused by fire (not covered under the arson laws)
  • Reckless tampering of property that causes financial loss

Criminal Defense Lawyer John W. Tumelty Will Defend You against Your Charges

As with all criminal charges in New Jersey, the prosecutor must prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. A skilled criminal defense lawyer like Mr. Tumelty knows how to poke holes in criminal mischief cases. Prosecutors, responding to angered property owners, can become overzealous.

Contact John W. Tumelty for a free consultation about your criminal mischief charges. He will listen to what happened, explain your rights and work tirelessly on your behalf to negotiate your case in an effort to get the charges reduced or dismissed. He has offices in Somers Point, Atlantic City and Marmora and represents clients in Brigantine, Margate, Longport, Ventnor, and throughout Atlantic and Cape May counties and beyond.


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