Case Studies: Criminal Mischief

Sound Engineer Successfully Defends Criminal Mischief Charges

A sound engineer retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after police arrested him on criminal mischief charges. The charges arose out of a dispute the sound engineer had with a Camden area production company. The sound engineer had been bringing his own sound equipment to production sites where event hosts had employed the company. The sound engineer would use his equipment to help the company produce the sound and video events the host sites sponsored. In one instance, though, the production company's owner had threatened, abused, and embarrassed the sound engineer when an event production went awry, although not at the engineer's fault. In response, the sound engineer removed his equipment and left the site. Furious, the company's owner had reported to police that in the sound engineer's abrupt departure, the engineer had recklessly or purposefully damaged and destroyed some of the company's production equipment. Our client credibly denied the charges. Our client also had a meticulous recollection of his actions and meticulous documentation of his equipment and procedures, unlike the production company owner, whom others knew to consistently "wing it." Our strategy was thus one of showing our client's thought, consideration, and care in the execution of his professional duties and his skill and credibility. Our proof included that our client had not been responsible for the poor production over which the owner had berated our client. Our trial presentation convinced the jury to acquit our client of all charges.

Professor Successfully Defends Criminal Mischief Charges on Mistaken Identity

A university professor retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after prosecutors charged her with criminal mischief. Our client related that the charges arose out of an unfortunate incident of mistaken identity. Our client had been working late at night on campus before heading home in the dark. While walking across campus, our client came upon a hooded figure who appeared to have just spray-painted words on several vehicles parked outside the library. The figure ran off as our client approached. Noticing the writing on the vehicles, our client spotted a spray can on the ground. She reached over, picked it up, and gave it a squirt out of curiosity to see if it was full or empty. The spray, unfortunately, stained her hand and bag. Just then, a campus security officer approached, causing our client to instinctively drop the can. When the officer asked what was going on, our client was so anxious over her guilty appearance that she stumbled to explain. The officer took photographs not only of the vehicles but also of our client's hand and bag. The officer also recovered the spray can and made out a report describing his observations of the scene and our client. The vehicles' owners pressured the local prosecutor to press charges. We retained a reconstruction expert who easily demonstrated that our client had not had the height, reach, capability, or paint marks on her person to accomplish all the damage. Police, in the meantime, arrested a suspect in another similar incident whose clothing and furtive movements at that scene matched our client's description of her own observations. The prosecution agreed to dismiss the charges on our evidence shared in a pretrial conference.

High School Senior Avoids Criminal Mischief Conviction and School Dismissal

The parents of a high school senior retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after the senior's arrest on criminal mischief charges. The charges related to celebrations following a homecoming football game win. Students celebrating the win had tossed objects, set off fireworks, and engaged in other revelries, one consequence of which was damage to several vehicles parked in the lot outside the football stadium. In particular, someone had keyed several vehicles, leaving scratches in their paint, while others had cracked windshields and dented vehicle roofs, trunks, and hoods with stones or other objects tossed across the parking lot. Some vehicles showed burn damage from the fireworks. Our client was the only student whom prosecutors criminally charged in the matter. Our client and several other students also faced school discipline. Our strategic approach was to help our client and the other students discern and participate in voluntary cleanup and school and community service in recognition of their responsibility for over-zealous celebrations, but without admitting to the specifics of any damage to any vehicle. Indeed, our client and the other students all denied having thrown rocks or other objects in ways that damaged vehicles. They maintained instead that the losing team's fans had done so, for which they had some evidence. Our other approach was to let the prosecution take some time with the charges as the school community processed events of that night until cooler heads prevailed. We also pointed out to the judge and prosecutor the selective and arguably discriminatory enforcement of charging only our client, who was the only minority student involved in the celebrations. The prosecution subsequently abandoned the charges, which the court dismissed.

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