cedar rapids / iowa city criminal defense

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What is criminal mischief in Iowa?

by David Cmelik
I have represented defendants who are charged with crimes that would fall under the everyday definition of “vandalism.” Any damage, defacing, alteration, or destruction of property is criminal mischief when done intentionally by one who has no right to so act. Iowa Code § 716.1.   Defendants and loved ones wonder how spray painting a car, breaking windows, or spray painting the siding on a house can turn into what would otherwise be a felony offense if charged as an adult. Unfortunately, one lapse in judgment can turn into a lifetime designation as a felon. First degree criminal mischief is criminal mischief that causes over $10,000 in damage or more      if such acts are intended to or do in fact cause a substantial interruption or impairment of service rendered to the public by a gas, electric, steam or waterworks corporation, telephone or telegraph corporation, common carrier, or a public utility operated by a municipality.  Criminal mischief in the first degree is a class "C" felony punishable by fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 and up to ten years in prison. Second degree criminal mischief is criminal mischief that causes damage that exceeds $1,000 but does not exceed $10,000 in damage. Second degree criminal mischief is a Class “D” felony punishable by fines ranging from $750 and $7,500 and up to five years in prison. Third degree criminal mischief is criminal mischief that causes damage that exceeds $500 but does not exceed $1,000. Other acts of third degree criminal mischief include destroying an official document like a deed, disinterring human remains, or “rendering substantially less effective than before any light, signal, obstruction, barricade, or guard which has been placed or erected for the purpose of enclosing any unsafe or dangerous place or of alerting persons to an unsafe or dangerous condition.” Examples of the latter include bending or breaking railroad crossing gates, defacing or, arguably, moving “Road Closed” signs to divert traffic.   Third degree criminal mischief is an aggravated misdemeanor punishable by at most two years in prison and a $6,250 fine and at least a $625 fine. Fourth degree criminal mischief is criminal mischief that causes damage that exceeds $250 but does not exceed $500. It is a serious misdemeanor punishable by at least a $315 fine and at most one year in jail and an $1,875 fine. There is a catch-all criminal mischief for any lower valued property damage: a simple misdemeanor fifth degree criminal mischief punishable by at least a $65 fine and at most a $650 fine and 30 days in jail. Convictions for any such offense will almost certainly carry with them the requirement that the defendant pay back restitution for any damage or destruction. If you or a loved one has been charged with criminal mischief in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Vinton, Anamosa, Linn, Johnson, Benton, Jones, or other Iowa counties, call for an initial consultation now.  A blog is not legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading a blog or by sending unsolicited information to a lawyer over the Internet.

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