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June 13, 2011

Scratching A Car with A Key – Is It Now A Felony In New York

By Michael H. Joseph

As a Westchester Criminal Defense lawyer, I have handled numerous criminal mischief cases. In New York, the law was recently changed to reduce the amount of damage necessary to make criminal mischief a felony.

As White Plains criminal defense lawyers, our criminal defense attorneys have handled hundreds of criminal mischief cases in in Westchester County. With the amount of bars and malls in the White Plains City limits, criminal mischief is a common occurrence, due to intoxication, road rage and stealing of parking spots.

Under New York law, criminal mischief is intentionally damaging the property of another. Basic criminal mischief is a misdemeanor. However, recently, it was a felony if the damage caused was over one thousand dollars. The New York law recently changed to reduce the value to two hundred and fifty dollars. So now in Westchester, our White Plains criminal defense lawyers are seeing an increase in felony criminal mischief.

Now, everyone who scratches a car or breaks a window is being charged with a felony. This problem is compounded because the Westchester prosecutors are taking the position that the measure of the damage is the repair cost including labor. This interpretation is not consistent with the statute which only addresses causing damage in excess of two hundred and fifty dollars. So the damage or replacement apart from the labor is what must be over two hundred and fifty dollars.

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