Indianapolis Criminal Mischief Defense Attorney

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Every state has some version of criminal mischief written into its criminal statutes. Generally, it is a crime against personal property and is committed when someone intentionally damages, destroys, or defaces the property or another. While it is called criminal mischief in Indiana, other states may call the same crime vandalism, graffiti or, plainly, the destruction of property. This is differentiated from arson, which usually requires the use of fire or explosives to destroy a building or dwelling, and usually involves risk of injury or death to others.

A charge of criminal mischief can have serious repercussions in a person’s life, and the help of an experienced Indianapolis criminal mischief lawyer such as Chris Eskew of Eskew Law can make a significant difference. Careful investigation and legal analysis are required to arrive at a positive outcome in defending against any criminal charge.

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Categories of Criminal Mischief

Generally, Ind. Code § 35-43-1-2 defines the crime of criminal mischief as when a person recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally damages or defaces the property of another without his or her consent. This is the simplest form of the offense and is considered a Class B misdemeanor, which, under Ind. Code § 35-50-3-3, is punishable with jail time not more than 180 days and a fine not exceeding $1,000.

However, certain aggravating circumstances may elevate the crime to a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a jail term of not more than one year and a fine not exceeding $1,000, making the need for an aggressive Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer who is well-versed in criminal mischief cases that much greater. These circumstances include the following pursuant to Ind. Code § 35-43-1-2:

  • The monetary loss arising from the mischief is at least $750 but less than $50,000;
  • The property damaged or defaced is either:
    • A structure used for religious worship;
    • A school or community center;
    • Any property or facility used for agricultural operations which, as defined by Ind. Code § 32-30-6-1, includes facilities used in the production of crops, livestock, poultry, livestock products, poultry products, or horticultural products, or for growing timber;
    • The grounds adjacent to, and owned or rented in common with, the above structures or facilities; or
    • Personal property contained in the above structures or facilities.

A criminal mischief charge may become a Level 6 felony, punishable with a prison term between six months and three years and a fine not exceeding $10,000 under Ind. Code § 35-50-2-7, if the following circumstances occur:

  • The monetary loss is at least $50,000;
  • The damage causes a substantial interruption or impairment of utility service rendered to the public;
  • The damage is to a public record;
  • The damage is to a law enforcement animal as defined by Ind. Code § 35-46-3-4.5, which includes horses and bomb, narcotic, or arson detection dogs; or
  • The property involved is a structure for religious worship, school or community center, a facility for agricultural operations, the grounds adjacent to and owned or rented in common with these structures, or is personal property contained in these structures, and the monetary loss is at least $750 but less than $50,000. With these properties, if the monetary loss is at least $50,000, then the charge is elevated to a Level 5 felony. Level 5 felonies are punishable by a prison term of between one and six years, and a fine not exceeding $10,000, as provided by Ind. Code § 35-50-2-6.

Schedule a Consultation with an Indianapolis Criminal Mischief Lawyer

In order to properly defend against a criminal mischief charge, a thorough investigation and extensive analysis of the facts and the law are necessary. Eskew Law can provide you with a knowledgeable Indianapolis criminal mischief attorney who will review your case and help you determine the best way to move forward. You may contact us by calling (317) 974-0177 or by submitting our online consultation request form.

Next Steps

1. Consultation Meet with the attorney to discuss your legal issue. This initial meeting helps you understand their expertise and decide if they're the right fit.
2. Agreement Review and sign a retainer agreement. This contract outlines the services, fees, and other essential terms.
3. Documents Gather and provide all relevant documents related to your case. This step helps your attorney build your case efficiently.
4. Communication Set expectations for how and when you'll communicate with your attorney. Clear communication ensures that you stay informed throughout the process.

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