The top Stamford and Greenwich Connecticut criminal lawyers and attorneys always expect a spike in phone calls around Halloween time. Between the Halloween parties, mischief night, and of course, this year’s creepy “clown” scare, there’s sure to be increased vigilance, police activity and aggressive enforcement of Greenwich, Stamford and Darien Connecticut’s DUI / DWI and vandalism laws.
But what about the Connecticut crime of criminal mischief? And how can you make sure your child is not arrested in Connecticut for felony or misdemeanor criminal mischief on Halloween night?
“Criminal Mischief” Sounds Harmless Enough, But It Can Be a Felony
Criminal Mischief is the Connecticut penal code’s formal name for vandalism and property damage. That means any intentional damage to property that doesn’t belong to you can get you arrested in Connecticut for Criminal Mischief. The degree charged depends on the value of the property you’ve been accused of damaging. As many of the best Connecticut criminal law firms in Stamford, Darien and Greenwich Connecticut understand, teenagers and college students who have been partying or drinking (especially in large groups) can sometimes get destructive and aggressive, and often cause damage to other people’s property like mailboxes, cars, lawns and windows. Connecticut school rivalries can also sometimes lead to pranks going too far, which are followed by Criminal Mischief arrests in Connecticut juvenile court or adult court (especially when the vandalism includes desecration of property by graffiti or urination).
First, Second & Third Degree Criminal Mischief
The most serious vandalism arrest in Connecticut is for Criminal Mischief in the First Degree under C.G.S. § 53a-115, which can be charged if you are accused of intentionally causing damage to property valued over $1500, or if you tamper or damage with a public utility and ultimately disrupt the utility service. Criminal Mischief First Degree is a Class D felony in Connecticut, exposing you to up to 5 years in jail and a maximum $5000 fine.
Second Degree Criminal Mischief under C.G.S. § 53a-116 applies to property valued at over $250 and is a Class A misdemeanor (maximum 1 year in jail). With Connecticut Criminal Mischief Third Degree arrests per C.G.S. § 53a-117, the value of the property is irrelevant. All that is required for police to arrest you is that they believed you damaged someone else’s property, or merely put another party’s damage at “risk” of being damaged. Does this law sound flimsy? That’s because it is, and Connecticut police will not hesitate to arrest you for this overly broad Third Degree Criminal Mischief charge when they have a weak case against you. Third Degree is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail.
Fighting Your Connecticut Criminal Mischief Arrest
When fighting Criminal Mischief arrests in the Stamford, Norwalk and Bridgeport Connecticut criminal courts, many of the best Fairfield County criminal attorneys and lawyers will focus on 2 issues, beginning on your very first court date:
First, can the prosecutor prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally damaged the property at issue? Accidents happen and your top Connecticut criminal mischief lawyer must put the police to their proof.
Second, is the value of the property really what police believe it to be? Too often—especially in Connecticut graffiti arrests—police overestimate the value of the damaged property (such as a school building wall or parking lot). That’s because they are getting their information from the complaining party who will sometimes inflate the value of their property—or even wrongfully / falsely accuse someone of damaging it—just to try and score a new mailbox, paint job, or car repair. So make sure your Stamford criminal lawyer drills down on the true value of the alleged damages.
You can follow this link for an in-depth discussion of how to cost-effectively and successfully fight a Criminal Mischief arrest in Connecticut.
Contact a Connecticut Criminal Mischief Arrest Lawyer Today
So if you’ve been arrested for Criminal Mischief in Stamford, Greenwich, New Canaan, Darien or anywhere Connecticut, then contact one of the criminal lawyers at Mark Sherman Law. Depending on the severity of the accusations, there may just be a way to get your Connecticut Criminal Mischief arrest dropped quickly, with little or no impact on your future or any employment background checks. For more info on our firm, feel free to check out our Avvo.com certified former client reviews, and then give us a call at (203) 359-4700. We’re available 24/7—even on Halloween—unless we’re busy bailing the creepy clowns out of jail!