Malicious Mischief in the Third Degree
There are two different ways to commit malicious mischief in the third degree. These include causing physical damage and defacing property.
Malicious Mischief – Causing Physical Damage
If someone knowingly and maliciously causes physical damage to another's property, they are guilty of malicious mischief. The severity of the malicious mischief charge on the amount of damage caused. The breakdown is as follows.
- Malicious Mischief in the First Degree – physical damage that exceeds $5,000.
- Malicious Mischief in the Second Degree – physical damage that costs between $750 to $5,000.
- Malicious Mischief in the Third Degree – physical damage that costs up to $750.
Because the cost of damage dictates the seriousness of the offense, the cost of the damage must be carefully assessed by a qualified criminal defense attorney. Such an evaluation could be the difference a felony charge and a gross misdemeanor charge.
Malicious Mischief – Defacing Property
The second way someone might commit malicious mischief in the third degree is to deface property. The law prohibits the following conduct.
- Writing or painting on any building or structure.
- Drawing any inscription, figure, or mark of any type on any building or structure.
Understand what “Malicious” Means
In Washington, “malice” and “maliciously” are defined by RCW 9A.04.110 (12). The word “maliciously” in the statute means acting with evil intent or evil wish, or acting to design, annoy, or injure another person.
In some cases, there may be direct evidence of malicious intent. For example, if someone sends an email that says, “I threw eggs on your front door just to annoy you,” this is direct evidence of an intent to annoy the other person.
However, in other cases, state law allows malice to be inferred. When someone does an act with “willful disregard of the rights of another,” or acts in a manner “without just cause or excuse,” a jury can find evidence of malice.
The Punishment for Malicious Mischief
The punishment for malicious mischief is based on whether the malicious mischief charge is in the first, second, or third degree. Malicious mischief in the first degree is a Class B felony. Malicious mischief in the second degree is a Class C felony. Both of these are punished more harshly than malicious mischief in the third degree.
Consequences of a Malicious Mischief in the Third Degree Conviction
Malicious mischief in the third degree is a gross misdemeanor in the state of Washington. Gross misdemeanors are punishable by up to 364 days in jail, as well as up to a fine of up to $5,000, or both. While it is rare that someone receives the maximum punishment for a gross misdemeanor, there can still be serious consequences.
Additional consequences for a conviction of malicious mischief in the third degree include probation for a period of time. You may also expect that the court will order restitution to the owner of the property. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the court may issue a no-contact order between the convicted person and the victim of the crime. This typically means the defendant must have no contact with the person or their property while they are on probation. If a defendant does have contact with the victim in violation of a non-contact order, they may be subject to a probation violation hearing and/or face a new criminal charge.
If You Have Been Charged with Malicious Mischief in the Third Degree
If you have been charged with malicious mischief, you need an experienced, qualified criminal defense attorney on your side. Malicious mischief is an offense with many elements. In order to be convicted, the state must prove each and every element beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you are facing a charge of malicious mischief, contact the Pewitt Law, PLLC. Sheri Pewitt has the experience you need to carefully review all the evidence in your case, and advocate on your behalf. Contact the Pewitt Law Firm today to discuss your case. There is no charge for an initial consultation.