It’s something you might learn the hard way. What you consider a silly prank – may actually represent criminal mischief. When you hear of the consequences you face, you’ll know it’s no laughing matter. In fact, it might even be a little bit scary.
Consider this example. You and your friends decide to sneak into one of the cemeteries on either side of Route 1 and 9 on the Elizabeth/Linden border. While you’re there, you think it would be amusing to move around a couple of the new grave markers.
You really don’t think it’s any big deal. However, the police do. They accuse you of tampering with the graves with the “purpose to desecrate, destroy or steal” human remains. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
The problem gets bigger according to NJSA 2C:17-3. If you’re found guilty, you face penalties associated with third-degree crimes. This means paying up to $10K in fines. The court could put you behind bars from three to five years.
What didn’t seem like such a big deal – suddenly becomes larger than life. You’ll absolutely want the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney to advocate on your behalf.
In the meantime, you should know that the criminal mischief statute considers other actions as well. Fortunately, some come with far fewer penalties.
Other Examples of Criminal Mischief
In case you were wondering, the statute does specifically address cemetery vandalism as criminal mischief. That said, the same law mentions other actions as well.
Although some fireworks became legal in New Jersey, that doesn’t mean they can’t still pose a problem. If you use them near someone else’s property and cause damages, you can also find yourself charged with criminal mischief.
Of course, fireworks represent only part of the problem. As long as there’s proof that you negligently or recklessly used any kind of fire or any type of explosives, you could be in trouble. In the meantime, here are some other examples of criminal mischief:
- Damaging or destroying rental property because you were evicted
- Tampering with tangible property and causing a dangerous condition
- Damaging, defacing, or otherwise doing harm to a research facility
- Removing signs or otherwise damaging signs, etc. at an airport
- Tinkering with power, energy, or communication lines, etc.
- Defacing property with graffiti
If the court finds you guilty of criminal mischief, your crime could be graded according to the victim’s financial loss. Among the most serious offenses come from doing something that impairs air traffic safety – especially if it results in a fatality.