What is Malicious Mischief?

In Washington State, malicious mischief is a crime that happens when you cause physical damage to someone else’s property. Malicious mischief can include erasing records, information, data, computer programs, or similar computer-related files that are recorded for use in computers. It can also include the impairment, interruption, or interference with the use of these records.Malicious

When your case is reviewed by a lawyer or the courts, a variety of things will be considered, particularly the value of the item you may have damaged. Ultimately, the consequence for malicious mischief in Washington State is based on the value of the damaged item.

Degrees of malicious mischief in Washington State

As is the case in many states, malicious mischief in Washington State is separated into three different categories, called degrees. Each degree is determined by the value of the damaged item:

  • Third-degree malicious mischief. The item is worth $750 or less.
  • Second-degree possession. The item is worth more than $750 but less than $5,000.
  • First-degree possession. The item is worth more than $5,000.

Each degree has an associated maximimum sentence and/or fine.

Maximum sentences for malicious mischief in Washington State

Each degree of malicious mischief is also considered a particular type of crime, such as a misdemeanor or a felony, by the courts. The maximum sentence for each degree of malicious mischief depends on the type of crime it is considered.

  • Third-degree malicious mischief. If the property is worth less than $50, the malicious mischief is considered a misdemeanor (minor crime), which has a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. If the property is worth more than $50, the crime is still third-degree malicious mischief, but you will be charged with a gross misdemeanor, which has a maximum sentence of 365 days in jail and/or a $5,000 fine (subject to change).
  • Second-degree malicious mischief. This is considered a Class C felony (serious crime). If convicted of a Class C felony, you can be given a maximum sentence of 5 years in jail and/or a $10,000 fine (subject to change).
  • First-degree malious mischief. This is considered a Class B felony. If convicted of a Class B felony, you can be given a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and/or a $20,000 fine (subject to change).

Keep in mind that these are the maximum sentences. If you are accused of any of these crimes but have little or no criminal history, it’s unlikely that you will receive the maximum sentence.

If you are accused of malicious mischief in Washington State

If you are accused of malicious mischief in Washington State, it’s advisable to contact an attorney in order to understand your options. Resolutions vary widely and include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Pleading guilty or not guilty.
  • Being found guilty or not guilty if your case goes to trial.
  • Asking the owner of the damaged property to request a Compromise of Misdemeanor (after you have adequately compensated the owner for the damage).
  • Asking for a deferral (in which case a guilty plea could be withdrawn if you meet certain conditions set by the court).
  • Making an agreement (Stipulated Order of Continuance) with the prosecutor.

The last three options are often reserved for people with little or no criminal history.

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