The crime of vandalism is called Criminal Mischief in Pennsylvania. Under Title 18 Section 3304 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, a person commits a criminal mischief if he or she intentionally or recklessly does one or more of the following:

  • Damage the tangible property of another;
  • Damaging tangible property of another by negligently using fire, explosives or other dangerous means;
  • Tampers with the tangible property of another, which endangers that person or the property;
  • Causes a person to suffer a financial loss by deception or threat;
  • Defaces or damages tangible public property or the property of another by using graffiti;
  • Damages real estate or personal property of another; or
  • Defaces personal, private or public property by firing a paintball gun or marker at the property.


Criminal mischief can range in severity from a summary offense all the way up to a third-degree felony. The severity of the charges is based upon the amount of property damage or the types of property or services damaged as a result of the actor's conduct. Offenses are graded as follows:

  • 3rd Degree Felony: Punishable by up to 7 years in prison for causing financial loss of over $5,000 or a substantial interruption or impairment of public communication, transportation or supply of utilities
  • 2nd Degree Misdemeanor: Punishable by up to 2 years in prison for causing financial loss of over $1,000 but less than $5,000
  • 3rd Degree Misdemeanor: Punishable by up to 1 year in prison for causing financial loss of over $500 but less than $1,000, or for causing a financial loss of $150 by using graffiti
  • Summary Offense: Punishable by up to 90 days in jail for causing financial loss under $500, or for financial loss under $150 if using graffiti.


The most common scenarios where criminal mischief is charged deal with allegations of vandalism: slashing tires, breaking windows, using graffiti and related acts that lead to the destruction of property. Tenants who move out of their apartments and leave them damaged or in a state of disrepair commonly find themselves charged with felony criminal mischief.

Most often, criminal mischief is charged in connection with other crimes, such as: propulsion of missiles into an occupied vehicle for throwing objects at cars, arson, or for unlawfully causing accidents that damage property (i.e. DUI, Fleeing & Eluding, Hit And Run, etc).


Don't let a criminal mischief charge ruin your future. At Zuckerman Law Firm, we will fully prepare for your preliminary hearing or trial while working behind the scenes to negotiate the best possible result for your case. In appropriate circumstances, you may be eligible for diversionary programs and charge reductions, including:

  • Rule 586 Settlement: Paying restitution to the alleged victim for a full withdrawal of your charges before the magistrate or the Court of Common Pleas.
  • Reduction of misdemeanor and felony criminal mischief charges to a summary offense, ending the case at the magistrate's office.
  • ARD program entry for first-time offenders, providing opportunity to expunge the charges from your record.

Our firm has successfully handled criminal mischief cases for our clients. The most recent cases include:

  • Allegheny County: Client facing permanent criminal record and max sentence of up to 2 years in jail. Result: Negotiated agreement for client to repay restitution to victims in return for full withdrawal of charges at magistrate's office.
  • Allegheny County: Client facing permanent criminal record and max sentence of up to 1 year in jail. Result: Case dismissed.
  • Allegheny County: Client facing permanent felony record and maximum sentence of up to 7 years in prison. Result: Restitution agreement negotiated for a reduction to summary offenses only. Felony charge dismissed. 
  • Allegheny County: Client facing 2nd Degree Misdemeanor offense of Criminal Mischief, with a maximum sentence of up to 2 years in jail. Result: Negotiated agreement at magistrate’s office for a withdrawal in return for the payment of restitution

If you're charged with criminal mischief, call the Zuckerman Law Firm today at 412-447-5580 for a free, confidential consultation.