Any New York City criminal lawyer can tell you that in addition to accusations of stealing someone's property, there are numerous instances in which a person can be arrested for crimes against the property of another. This crimes usually encapsulate situations in which a person is accused of damaging the property of another without their consent. While notions like "vandalism" typically come to mind when thinking about property crimes, there are numerous crimes against property in the New York Penal Code. These can include crimes related to cars as well as crimes related to real or personal property. The level of severity of the crime tends to correspond proportionately with the value of the property that was damaged. For example, pursuant to New York's vandalism laws, which are called "Criminal Mischief," a person can be found guilty of Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree (the most basic form) when he intentionally damages the property of another person and he had "no right to do so nor did he have any reasonable ground to believe that he had such a right." This is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. However, if the property damage exceeds $250, then the person is guilty of a Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree, a class E felony which is punishable by up to 4 years in jail. If the damage is in excess of $1,500 then it's class D felony which is punishable by up to seven years in prison. The laws with regard to this are structured such that the value of the property is determined at the time the incident occurred, not the amount that the rightful owner paid for the property. This is a contentious point of litigation in which having a good defense attorney matters. Prosecutors and police officers tend to try to charge the highest possible crime when they can. When a victim of property damage reports to the police the damage, he tends to tell them the price he paid for the property. However, property depreciates with time. At trial, the prosecution needs to prove that the property value at the time of the incident was as high as they claim it was. A good defense attorney can rebut this claim in numerous ways. This can be done not only by cross-examining the witnesses that testify on behalf of the prosecution, but by calling competent expert witnesses that can establish that the property was lower than the District Attorney's Office claims it was. This can lead to a dramatic reduction in charges. A good lawyer can even achieve this prior to trial by negotiating with the District Attorney's Office.
Click below for the most common property crimes that people are accused of committing. There are numerous defenses to property crimes. In addition, accusations of property crimes tend to be overcharged by the police and the District Attorney's Office. A good defense attorney can help people accused of these crimes. John Buza is a former Manhattan prosecutor with a lot of experience in handling these matters. Feel free to contact him for a free consultation if you, or a loved one is accused of a property crime.