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Criminal Mischief

Acts that involve defacing, damaging, destroying, or otherwise improperly tampering with another party’s property can result in an alleged offender being charged with criminal mischief. While criminal mischief is commonly a misdemeanor offense, certain cases involving extensive damage can result in felony charges.

In many cases, conduct constituting criminal mischief may be at the discretion of police officers. Alleged offenders with no criminal records may be eligible for diversion programs that allow them to avoid being incarcerated or having a criminal record.

Lawyer for Criminal Mischief Arrests in Cincinnati, OH

Were you arrested for alleged criminal mischief anywhere in Hamilton County? Do not say anything to authorities without legal representation. Contact Joslyn Law Firm right now for help protecting your rights.

Brian Joslyn is an award-winning criminal defense attorney in Cincinnati who represents clients accused of property crimes in Harrison, Springdale, Sycamore, Bridgetown, Anderson, Green, Delhi, Miamitown, Norwood, and many surrounding areas of southwest Ohio. You can have our lawyer review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free, confidential consultation as soon as you call (513) 399-6289 today.


Overview of Criminal Mischief Crimes in Ohio


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Criminal Mischief Definitions in Hamilton County

As established under Ohio Revised Code § 2909.07, criminal mischief uses a number of terms that are defined under Ohio Revised Code § 2913.01. Some of the terms include:

  • Computer — An electronic device that performs logical, arithmetic, and memory functions by the manipulation of electronic or magnetic impulses. Computer includes, but is not limited to, all input, output, processing, storage, computer program, or communication facilities that are connected, or related, in a computer system or network to an electronic device of that nature.
  • Computer System — A computer and related devices, whether connected or unconnected, including, but not limited to, data input, output, and storage devices, data communications links, and computer programs and data that make the system capable of performing specified special purpose data processing tasks.
  • Computer Network — A set of related and remotely connected computers and communication facilities that includes more than one computer system that has the capability to transmit among the connected computers and communication facilities through the use of computer facilities.
  • Computer Software — Computer programs, procedures, and other documentation associated with the operation of a computer system.
  • Computer Program — An ordered set of data representing coded instructions or statements that, when executed by a computer, cause the computer to process data.
  • Computer Hacking — Any of the following: Gaining access or attempting to gain access to all or part of a computer, computer system, or a computer network without express or implied authorization with the intent to defraud or with intent to commit a crime; or misusing computer or network services including, but not limited to, mail transfer programs, file transfer programs, proxy servers, and web servers by performing functions not authorized by the owner of the computer, computer system, or computer network or other person authorized to give consent. As used in this division, "misuse of computer and network services" includes, but is not limited to, the unauthorized use of any of the following: Mail transfer programs to send mail to persons other than the authorized users of that computer or computer network; File transfer program proxy services or proxy servers to access other computers, computer systems, or computer networks; and Web servers to redirect users to other web pages or web servers.
  • Computer Contaminant — A computer program that is designed to modify, damage, destroy, disable, deny or degrade access to, allow unauthorized access to, functionally impair, record, or transmit information within a computer, computer system, or computer network without the express or implied consent of the owner or other person authorized to give consent and that is of a type or kind described in the following divisions of this section or of a type or kind similar to a type or kind described in the following divisions to this section: A group of computer programs commonly known as "viruses" and "worms" that are self-replicating or self-propagating and that are designed to contaminate other computer programs, compromise computer security, consume computer resources, modify, destroy, record, or transmit data, or disrupt the normal operation of the computer, computer system, or computer network; a group of computer programs commonly known as "Trojans" or "Trojan horses" that are not self-replicating or self-propagating and that are designed to compromise computer security, consume computer resources, modify, destroy, record, or transmit data, or disrupt the normal operation of the computer, computer system, or computer network; a group of computer programs commonly known as "zombies" that are designed to use a computer without the knowledge and consent of the owner, or other person authorized to give consent, and that are designed to send large quantities of data to a targeted computer network for the purpose of degrading the targeted computer's or network's performance, or denying access through the network to the targeted computer or network, resulting in what is commonly known as "Denial of Service" or "Distributed Denial of Service" attacks; or a group of computer programs commonly know as "trap doors," "back doors," or "root kits" that are designed to bypass standard authentication software and that are designed to allow access to or use of a computer without the knowledge or consent of the owner, or other person authorized to give consent.
  • Safety Device — Any fire extinguisher, fire hose, or fire axe, or any fire escape, emergency exit, or emergency escape equipment, or any life line, life-saving ring, life preserver, or life boat or raft, or any alarm, light, flare, signal, sign, or notice intended to warn of danger or emergency, or intended for other safety purposes, or any guard railing or safety barricade, or any traffic sign or signal, or any railroad grade crossing sign, signal, or gate, or any first aid or survival equipment, or any other device, apparatus, or equipment intended for protecting or preserving the safety of persons or property.

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Criminal Mischief Penalties in Cincinnati

Criminal mischief is a third-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500 if an alleged offender does any of the following:

  • Without privilege to do so, knowingly moves, defaces, damages, destroys, or otherwise improperly tampers with the either the property of another or one's own residential real property with the purpose to decrease the value of or enjoyment of the residential real property, if both the residential real property is subject to a mortgage and the alleged offender has been served with a summons and complaint in a pending residential mortgage loan foreclosure action relating to that real property (as used in this division, "pending" includes the time between judgment entry and confirmation of sale);
  • With purpose to interfere with the use or enjoyment of property of another, employs a tear gas device, stink bomb, smoke generator, or other device releasing a substance that is harmful or offensive to persons exposed or that tends to cause public alarm;
  • Without privilege to do so, knowingly moves, defaces, damages, destroys, or otherwise improperly tampers with a bench mark, triangulation station, boundary marker, or other survey station, monument, or marker;
  • Without privilege to do so, knowingly moves, defaces, damages, destroys, or otherwise improperly tampers with any safety device, the property of another, or the property of the offender when required or placed for the safety of others, so as to destroy or diminish its effectiveness or availability for its intended purpose; or
  • With purpose to interfere with the use or enjoyment of the property of another, sets a fire on the land of another or place personal property that has been set on fire on the land of another, which fire or personal property is outside and apart from any building, other structure, or personal property that is on that land.

Any of the violations listed above can make criminal mischief a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 if the alleged violation created a risk of physical harm to any person.

If the property involved any of the violations listed above is an aircraft, an aircraft engine, propeller, appliance, spare part, fuel, lubricant, hydraulic fluid, any other equipment, implement, or material used or intended to be used in the operation of an aircraft, or any cargo carried or intended to be carried in an aircraft, criminal mischief is a fifth-degree felony punishable by up to 12 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500 if the alleged violation created a risk of physical harm to any person. If the alleged violation created a substantial risk of physical harm to any person or if the property involved in a violation of this section is an occupied aircraft, criminal mischief is a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

Criminal mischief is also a first-degree misdemeanor under Ohio Revised Code § 2909.07(A)(6) if an alleged offender without privilege to do so, and with intent to impair the functioning of any computer, computer system, computer network, computer software, or computer program, knowingly does any of the following:

  • In any manner or by any means, including, but not limited to, computer hacking, alters, damages, destroys, or modifies a computer, computer system, computer network, computer software, or computer program or data contained in a computer, computer system, computer network, computer software, or computer program; or
  • Introduces a computer contaminant into a computer, computer system, computer network, computer software, or computer program.

If the value of a computer, computer system, computer network, computer software, computer program, or data involved in the alleged violation listed above or the loss to the alleged victim resulting from the violation is $1,000 or more and less than $10,000, or if the computer, computer system, computer network, computer software, computer program, or data involved in the alleged violation is used or intended to be used in the operation of an aircraft and the alleged violation creates a risk of physical harm to any person, criminal mischief is a fifth-degree felony. If the value of the computer, computer system, computer network, computer software, computer program, or data involved in an alleged violation of Ohio Revised Code § 2909.07(A)(6) or the loss to the victim resulting from the violation is $10,000 or more, or if the computer, computer system, computer network, computer software, computer program, or data involved in the alleged violation of Ohio Revised Code § 2909.07(A)(6) is used or intended to be used in the operation of an aircraft and the violation creates a substantial risk of physical harm to any person or the aircraft in question is an occupied aircraft, criminal mischief is a fourth-degree felony.


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Ohio Resources for Criminal Mischief Offenses

Ohio Revised Code § 2909.07 — View the full text of the state law for criminal mischief violations in Ohio. You can find additional information relating to definitions used in this statute. You can also see how specific offenses are classified.

State v. Cooke, 2016-Ohio-3445 — Jennifer Cooke was charged with criminal mischief, falsification, and disorderly conduct while intoxicated after she ran up and down streets in Ohio, rapping, dancing, and jumping from one porch to another, reportedly frightening several children. Although the State conceded that the evidence did not support the charge of criminal mischief, the court found Cooke guilty of criminal mischief and disorderly conduct (Cooke having committed criminal mischief by tampering with property by being on it, and being a distraction and a nuisance) and sentenced her to 60 days incarceration for criminal mischief and 30 days incarceration for disorderly conduct, to be served consecutively. On June 13, 2016, the Fifth District Court of Appeals affirmed Cooke’s conviction and sentence for disorderly conduct while intoxicated but vacated her conviction and sentence for criminal mischief after concluding that there was “no evidence to support the court’s finding that she damaged or altered the condition of the porches on which she was jumping.”


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Joslyn Law Firm | Cincinnati Criminal Mischief Defense Attorney

If you were arrested anywhere in southwest Ohio for alleged criminal mischief, it will be in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Joslyn Law Firm aggressively defends individuals in and around Hamilton County, including Montgomery, Colerain, Reading, Forest Park, Symmes, Blue Ash, Miami, Springfield, and several other nearby communities.

Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer Brian Joslyn will fight to help you achieve the most favorable outcome to your case that results in the fewest possible penalties. Call (513) 399-6289 or fill out an online contact form to have our attorney provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free initial consultation.


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