October 30 has special meaning for pranksters who enjoy beginning their Halloween celebrations early. Mischief Night, as it is often called, has long been a time for toilet-papering houses and trees, smashing pumpkins and being generally interested in causing trouble. The problem with Mischief Night is that getting caught turns a little fun into a property crime.
Criminal mischief in New Jersey is most often charged as a disorderly persons offense punishable with serious consequences including up to six months in jail depending on the value of the damages you caused. This is the charge you may likely face in a Mischief Night outing. However, a joke taken too far can have much harsher penalties attached.
In New Jersey, “criminal mischief” is defined as intentionally and recklessly damaging someone else’s property. If fire or explosives were involved, that ups the ante. If you took action that put someone’s property in danger, that can also be punished with severe consequences.
As a 4th degree offense, you can be sent to prison for up to 18 months if you caused between $500 and $2,000 in damages. Also, if your mischief impaired the work of air traffic control officers or involved an airport or aviation facility.
What are the Penalties for 3rd Degree Criminal Mischief? You will be charged with third degree criminal mischief is you caused damages in the amount of $2,000 or more, your action interfered substantially with a public entity, if you damaged or defaced a research facility or if you tampered with a grave or the like. If found guilty of this charge, you may find yourself spending between three and five years in NJ State Prison.
When it comes to Halloween, we all want to have fun. Concentrate on candy and friends and enjoying the festive holiday season. Steer clear of following friends who are out to be mischievous. When you go looking for trouble on Mischief Night, you will probably find it.
If you are charged with a criminal mischief offense, contact the knowledgeable criminal lawyers at Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza PC for a free consultation about your charges. We have been fighting for clients’ right for over 40 years.