Criminal Mischief Charges in Connecticut
In many communities, vandalism and minor property crimes, referred to as criminal mischief in Connecticut, are essentially considered a rite of passage for young men and women. However, law enforcement can and does take these offenses very seriously, especially if the amount of property damage is significant. If your child has been arrested for criminal mischief, you need to engage an attorney who understands the nature of both Connecticut’s juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.
Different Levels of Severity
Connecticut criminal mischief laws are designed to encompass a variety of crimes designed to damage property. The state statute covers not only classic property damage and vandalism, but also intentionally causing an interruption of services such as electricity and otherwise interfering with equipment or property belonging to a utility. Like with many different crimes in Connecticut, there are different degrees of criminal mischief, and the charge will depend on the level of damage caused by your child.
In adult court, the consequences for criminal mischief can vary from 3 months in jail up to 5 years, with fines ranging between $500 and $2,000. Intent is a major issue - you cannot ‘accidentally’ commit vandalism or criminal mischief. One may accidentally cause property damage, but if the damage is accidental, then by definition, no crime has been committed. Essentially, if the prosecution cannot establish that you had intent to cause the damage, they have little to no case.
Juvenile Consequences Will Differ
If your child is charged with a crime, they may face trial either in the juvenile system or in adult court. Most nonviolent crimes are tried in the juvenile system, which means that if your child is found to be delinquent (the juvenile equivalent of being found guilty or liable), the judge or jury has many more options for punishment than simple jail time. The juvenile justice system is more rehabilitative than punitive, and as such, the focus is more on ensuring juveniles do not offend again.
Examples of alternative resolutions for juvenile defendants include restitution (paying back the property owner for the damage caused), probation for a period of months or years, counseling or anger management training, and in some cases, house arrest. These are all options that are tried first, so to speak; if your child continues to offend, the consequences will be more severe, as their probation officer has the ability to impose more serious penalties later on.
Contact an Experienced Stamford Criminal Mischief Lawyer
A finding of delinquency for your child can make life inconvenient and confusing, and while most juvenile records are eventually expunged, there is no guarantee. Calling a skilled Stamford criminal mischief attorney at the Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner is a good first step; attorney Weiner has years of experience in these cases and is ready to try and assist with yours. Call the office today at 203-348-5846 for a free consultation.