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What is criminal mischief in the third degree?

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Quick Answer

Although there are minor variations from state to state, criminal mischief in the third degree is the least serious criminal offense related to property damage. The severity of the crime increases based on the cost incurred. For example, in New York State, property damage exceeding $250 is defined as criminal mischief in the third degree, while damage exceeding $1,500 is defined as a second degree crime.

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Full Answer

Criminal mischief is a criminal offense related to the damage of property that a person has no right to damage. It may be done deliberately or it may be the result of carelessness. Criminal mischief that puts the lives of others at risk is a serious offense.

According to Article 145.05 of the New York Penal Law, criminal mischief in the third degree includes damage to the motor vehicle of another person, and breaking into a vehicle to steal property or damage to property that exceeds $250. In Ohio, criminal mischief in the third degree includes defacing, damaging or destroying property; using stink bombs, smoke generators or other devices that can cause public alarm; moving or damaging bench marks, boundary markers or monuments; and setting fire to someone else's property. If any of these offenses put people in harm's way, then the crime becomes a misdemeanor of the first degree, with sterner consequences.

The consequences themselves vary from state to state. For example, criminal mischief in the third degree is punishable by a fine of $250 and up to 90 days in jail in Kentucky. However, in Connecticut, it is punishable with up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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