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Domestic Violence Based on Destruction of Property (Malicious Mischief)

Tacoma Lawyers Helping Defendants Fight Criminal Charges

Domestic violence is a serious issue in Washington and elsewhere. Sometimes people are injured in the course of domestic violence, but in other situations, the perpetrator may damage property in order to express force. They may, for example, throw a chair and break drywall. Or, for another example, they may kick in a door and kick it off its hinges. If you are charged with malicious mischief, you should be aware that this can be a form of domestic violence based on destruction of property when you have a certain relationship with the victim. There are three classifications of malicious mischief, and they are divided by the dollar value of the physical damage, among other factors. The Tacoma domestic violence lawyers at Smith & White can investigate your case and help you develop a defense against these charges.

Domestic Violence Based on Destruction of Property

Roughly, malicious mischief involves knowingly and maliciously causing physical damage to another party’s property. Under RCS 9A.48.070, you can be charged with the most serious form of malicious mischief, malicious mischief in the first degree, if a prosecutor can show beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly and maliciously caused physical damage to another party’s property in an amount over $5,000, caused an interruption of a service rendered to the public by physically damaging an emergency vehicle or state property or other similar property, caused an impairment of an aircraft’s operation, efficiency, or safety by physically tampering with or damaging an aircraft or its parts or fuel or lubricant, or caused an interruption of a service given to the public by physically destroying, harming, or removing an official ballot deposit box or ballot drop box, or messing with its contents. This type of malicious mischief is a class B felony. Only the first of these grounds is likely to arise in the domestic violence context, though.

Under RCW 9A.48.080, you can be convicted of malicious mischief in the second degree if the prosecutor can show beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly or maliciously caused physical damage to another party’s property in an amount between $750 and $5,000, created a substantial risk of an interruption or impairment of a service provided to the public by physically tampering with an emergency vehicle or subdivision or public utility, or created a substantial risk of an impairment or interruption of a service given to the public by, without authority, removing, destroying, or damaging an official ballot deposit box or messing with its contents. Second-degree malicious mischief is charged as a class C felony. Again, the first ground is the most likely to involve domestic violence.

Under RCW 9A.48.090, you can be convicted of malicious mischief in the third degree if the prosecutor can show beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly and maliciously caused physical damage to another party’s property under circumstances that do not count as malicious mischief in the first or second degree, or if you drew, painted, or wrote a mark of any kind on a private or public building or other structure, or any real or personal property owned by someone else unless express permission has been given, and the factual situation is not considered first- or second-degree malicious mischief. Third-degree malicious mischief is charged as a gross misdemeanor.

Penalties for Malicious Mischief

Felonies and misdemeanors are sub-categorized. There are A, B, and C felonies, and there are maximum penalties for each category. There are misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors, and the gross misdemeanors are punished more harshly than the ordinary misdemeanors.

You should be particularly careful to retain an attorney if you have been charged with any type of felony. The class B felony of malicious mischief in the first degree carries the harshest penalties among the various malicious mischief charges. You can face up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. For a conviction of malicious mischief in the second degree, a class C felony, you can face a maximum of five years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine. For a conviction of malicious mischief in the third degree, a gross misdemeanor, you can face a maximum of 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Discuss Your Case With a Domestic Violence Lawyer in the Tacoma Area

If you are charged with domestic violence based on destruction of property, which is a type of malicious mischief, you should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Smith & White, we represent people in the Tacoma area and throughout Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties. Call us at (253) 203-1645 or complete our online form.

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