What Should You Do If Your Teen Is Cited for Criminal Mischief in Florida?
Growing up means dealing with and taking responsibility for our mistakes. Some choices lead to more severe harm than others. When your children participate in actions that have serious consequences, you may feel hopeless and discouraged. You may have never thought your child would participate in a criminal act. However, many teenagers may face legal penalties for their reckless actions due to peer pressure, curiosity, or mental health issues.
Under Florida law, Title XLVI Chapter 806.13 states that criminal mischief is where a person “willfully and maliciously injures or damages by any means any real or personal property belonging to another.” This can include graffiti or other acts of vandalism. Depending on the severity of the infraction, a minor can face a misdemeanor or a felony. The punishments will vary depending on the act.
Florida takes criminal mischief seriously and defines property as anything that belongs to someone other than themselves. This means that property does not just include buildings. When a person injures or harms something belonging to someone else, they can face criminal mischief charges.
Steps to Take after Your Teen Is Charged with Criminal Mischief in Florida
It’s hard to imagine your child in this situation, and it can be even harder to figure out the right steps to take. The first actions you take can significantly affect the outcome of your child’s case. It’s crucial that you actively work with your child and legal representative to follow the steps below:
Contact a Juvenile Defense Attorney
The most important and helpful action you can take is contacting an experienced defense attorney. Not only will they be able to offer clear and honest advice, but they can also conduct a thorough investigation for your child’s case. There are many ways a defense attorney may increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for your child’s case.
Understand the Penalties for Juvenile Criminal Mischief
When someone commits criminal mischief, the severity of the punishments they face depends on the amount of property damaged and what specifically was damaged. If the vandalism was strictly graffiti, the Florida law reduces the severity of the punishment for minors. Instead of facing a criminal conviction, minors exclusively charged with graffiti can face community service and fines up to $1,000, depending on the number of incidents.
However, if your child commits other acts of vandalism that pose damage to another person’s property, there are more severe consequences for their actions.
- Property damage valued at $200 or less: A second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
- Property damage valued between $200 and $1,000: A first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
- Property damage valued above $1000: A third-degree felony charge punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
- Defacing a place of worship with malicious intent resulting in damage over $200: A third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Other consequences for a juvenile criminal mischief charge are the effects the charge can have on a personal record. From losing academic scholarships to driver’s license suspension, there are many ways a criminal charge can significantly impact your child’s future. This is why it’s crucial to discuss your options with a defense attorney.
Talk to Your Child about the Case
There are many ways your child can help during the case. You can discuss the consequences of their actions and let them know not to discuss or post on social media about the case. A defense attorney can lay out all the necessary actions for a smooth case and help answer legal questions about terminology or the process.
Everyone makes mistakes, and teenagers are in a period of life rife with mental anguish and frustration. Sometimes, they vent those emotions in ways that can lead them into trouble. If they find themselves in this situation, they’ll need help from their parents and a motivated attorney.
Contact an Experienced Umansky Law Defense Attorney Today
Whether your child was pulled into a criminal act by an untrustworthy group of friends or is struggling with school, taking responsibility for their actions can pose a good learning experience and hopefully deter them from committing other crimes in the future. If you find your child in a similar situation, contacting an experienced juvenile defense attorney can help guide you through the legal process.
Our motivated juvenile defense lawyers at Umansky Law Firm have years of experience advocating for our client’s rights. We are client-oriented and offer accessible communication and honest advice so that we can work with you for the best possible outcome of your case.
Call our office or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation.