Damaging a Statute or Other Property in New York: Understanding Criminal Mischief and Criminal Tampering Crimes

During summer 2017, a New York man, David Hedeen, was arrested and charged with Criminal Mischief when he vandalized four statues outside of a church in SoHo. The case highlights how seriously New York State and her prosecutors deal with crimes of vandalism. Simply, no statue, or any property of another person, should ever be tampered with or destroyed.

Criminal Mischief charges in New York are separated into four different classifications. Reverend Mario Julian, who is the priest at the church, stated that the damage done equaled close to $10,000. If that turns out to be true, and as now reflected in the indictment, Hedeen faces charges of Second Degree Criminal Mischief. This charge, New York Penal Law 145.10, includes intent to, and actually causing damage that is greater than $1,500. If convicted, Hedeen could face up to seven years in prison on a class “D” felony.

The only classification that has a more severe charge in New York is Criminal Mischief in the First degree, New York Penal Law 145.12. This is when explosives have been used to cause any amount of property damage and is a class “B” felony. As such, it packs a penalty of up to 25 years in prison. If the damage caused by Hedeen was valued between $250 and $1,500, he would be faced charges of Third Degree Criminal Mischief, New York Penal Law 145.05. This crime is a class “E” felony and a potential sentence of incarceration is as great as four years in prison. While charges will typically be harsher when a person has a past criminal record, even without any history if a person damages another’s property in any way and in any amount, they would face the crime of Fourth Degree Criminal Mischief, New York Penal Law 145.00. This is a class “A” misdemeanor but those found guilty could still face up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines.

Another type of crime that involves the destruction of property in New York is Criminal Tampering. Most of these fall under the classification of Third Degree Criminal Tampering, New York Penal Law 145.14. This crime does not require actual damage in order for prosecutors to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, this class “B” misdemeanor involves tampering with someone else’s property with intent to inconvenience that person. This type of conviction is punishable with fines and up to 90 days in jail.

Other types of Criminal Tampering involve the property of public utility companies. Criminal Tampering in the Second Degree is tampering with a public utility property and is a class “A” misdemeanor. Those found guilty of New York Penal Law 145.15 could spend up to one year in jail. The most significant degree of Criminal Tampering involves disruption of a public utility service. In such a scenario, a person could face charges of Criminal Tampering in the First Degree. This class “D” felony, New York Penal Law 145.20, carries a potential sentence of up to seven years in prison.

Make no mistake. The destruction or tampering of public or private property is taken very seriously in New York. Along with the charges and penalties a person could face for these crimes, their is also another lurking concern. If you destroy property that is religious or ethnic in nature, and that is the reason why you are causing this damage, then your offense can also be classified as a “hate crime” with an increased degree of criminal exposure.

To learn more about New York crimes involving property damage, including misdemeanor Criminal Mischief, felony Criminal Mischief and any degree of Criminal Tampering, review this blog and the websites listed below.

Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors. The New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC represent clients in property damage crimes throughout the New York City and Hudson Valley region.

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