Graffiti – Street Art or Crime?
Graffiti is many things to many people, but if it involves spraying paint on to other people’s property without their consent, it could be considered a crime. If your teenage son or daughter or even you yourself have been caught allegedly decorating the side of a store, a wall, a train or anything else that doesn’t belong to you, you will need someone like Albert Quirantes Esq., an experienced criminal defense attorney based in Miami, to help defend you.
In Florida, any kind of public vandalism is considered “criminal mischief.” Graffiti may be considered a form of vandalism, even if the person wielding the can of spray paint thinks that it is art or an important political message to the rest of the world. If convicted, a charge of criminal mischief could result in a second or first degree misdemeanor or even a third degree felony, depending on the amount of damage done to the property that has been “vandalized.”
Penalties for criminal mischief
The penalties for criminal mischief depend on the amount of ‘damage’ done to someone’s property in money terms. If a wall has been spray painted in graffiti, the cost of repainting it would be calculated and this amount would be used to justify the actual charge and the penalties that could be imposed.
If the damage done was less than $200, then the charge would be one of second degree misdemeanor. This could mean up to 60 days in jail. If the damage was between $200 and $1,000, then the charge may be a third degree misdemeanor, with up to 1 year in jail as a penalty. More than $1,000 of property damaged could result in a third degree felony charge and p to 5 years in prison.
In addition to imprisonment, a conviction could mean the person convicted having to repay the amount of damage done to the victim of the graffiti.
Defenses against criminal mischief
It’s not always easy for prosecutors to provide sufficient evidence of criminal mischief. To get a conviction, they have to prove that the accused:
• was the person who did the damage; • caused damage to property that had not already been abandoned and was not owned by anyone in particular; • did not own the property, even partially, that was alleged to have been damaged’ • knew that what they were doing was wrong and could damage someone else’s property, i.e. acted with “intention” and “malice.”
As with any other crime, prosecutors must be able to convince a jury that the accused was guilty of the crime of criminal mischief “beyond reasonable doubt.” It will be the aim of the accused’s criminal defense attorney to show that there was sufficient doubt about any or all of the points mentioned above for the charge to be dismissed. If the charge of criminal mischief cannot be dismissed, it will be the aim of the attorney to have the penalties reduced by critical evaluation of the amount that was alleged to have been damaged. In Miami, contact the Law Firm of Albert Quirantes at 305-644-1800.
Albert Quirantes: Your Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer & DUI Lawyer
For over 30 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
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If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, please call us today at (305) 644-1800 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free, confidential initial consultation.
If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: (305) 644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.