Answer: Yes, you can go to jail for breaking someone’s phone, depending upon costs of the damage and the offender’s previous criminal history.
In the article that follows, we’ll explain.
Can You Go To Jail For Breaking Someone’s Phone? (Explained)
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Criminal Charges Associated With Breaking a Phone
There are several potential charges (or even civil citations) that could result from breaking someone else’s phone, and they may have different names depending on where you live.
The first likely charge is commonly called “criminal mischief.”
Criminal mischief is a broad offense that is used when property is moved, meddled with, damaged, or destroyed.
There are several levels of criminal mischief, usually a few levels of misdemeanors and then a few levels of felonies.
The levels are broken up by the value of the damage, and the mental state of the alleged offender.
For example, someone who carelessly causes damage versus someone who recklessly causes damage versus someone who intentionally causes damage, intentional being more serious than careless or reckless.
The less damage caused, the more likely the offense is charged as a misdemeanor.
The more damage caused, the more likely the offense is charged as a felony.
Depending on the circumstances, a person who breaks someone else’s phone could also be charged with theft, disorderly conduct (that’s acting in a way that disturbs the public), violation of a protective order (if there is one), harassment, interference with making a 911 call, and more.
Jail Time For Phone Breaking?
There are several factors that play into whether an individual who breaks a phone gets sentenced to jail.
First and foremost, the seriousness of the offense will determine whether jail is on the line, and if so, what the range is (is there a mandatory minimum, and what the max is).
The seriousness in this situation will probably be determined by the value of the phone that was broken, unless the incident involved physical injury.
The next relevant factor is the number of offenses that result from the same criminality, or whether they were subsequent episodes that were charged separately.
If the offenses were part of the same criminal episode, the dollar value of the harm may be lumped together, which could result in one felony charge.
If the offenses were separate criminal episode, they could result in separate convictions which could impact the sentence (the more criminal history you have, the more likely you’ll get jail).
The next relevant factor is the criminal history of the offender.
While multiple convictions from the current trouble can result in jail time, prior criminal history of convictions can also push a case out of probation and into a jail sentence.
After these three factors, the court may also consider many other aspects of the case, including facts/circumstances of the crime, whether the behavior was intentional, what the offender intended by the action (to scare, to annoy), the victim’s statement to the court, the offender’s remorse, and whether the offender has already made efforts to pay restitution.
Other factors that may come into play are:
- whether there’s jail space for someone to serve time for property destruction
- whether the offender has a job, or attends school
- whether the offender has a support network (family)
- whether the offender has a family to support (children, spouse)
Will You Go To Jail For Breaking Someone Else’s Phone?
We have no idea whether you will go to jail for breaking someone’s phone.
As we talked about above, so many factors are part of the determination that someone on the internet without those facts couldn’t possibly guess.
That being said, if a person who did the damage only caused minimal damage, has no prior criminal history, has expressed remorse and regret for the actions, and has already gathered the money together to pay for the damages, this person is less likely to be sentenced to jail.
In the same vein, if a person who did the damage committed additional crimes in the same episode, has significant criminal history or convictions for the same behavior, is unwilling to take responsibility, and has made no efforts to get money together to pay for the damages, the person is more likely to be sentenced to jail.
Questions About Criminal Charges For Breaking a Phone?
Reach out to a criminal defense lawyer who practices in the community where the incident occurred.
The lawyer will be able to provide information, advice, and strategic guidance to someone who has been charged with a crime, or is afraid that he might be soon.
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