Unlawful Mischief

Reporter’s Note

Unlawful mischief is a specific intent crime.  The State must prove that the defendant caused damage purposely or knowingly, but no showing of malice is required.  State v. Patch, 145Vt. 344, 351-52 (1985). 

The several subsections of the statute, 13 V.S.A. § 3701, relate to the amount of the damage inflicted and the penalties that may be imposed.  The word “value” refers to the amount of the damage inflicted, not the value of the property which is damaged.  State v. Breznick, 134 Vt. 261, 266 (1976).  According to the statutory language, § 3701(c) applies to damages “not exceeding $250.00,” but the committee concludes that § 3701(c) actually applies to damages “of some monetary value.”  This interpretation is supported by Breznick, and by reading the various subsections in pari materia.  The State need not prove that the value of the damages did not exceed $250, and the instructions need not mention the figure of $250.  Where the defendant is charged under § 3701(c), the State may not amend the information during trial to a charge that the damages exceeded $250, under § 3701(b).  State v. Verge, 152Vt. 93 (1989).

Subsection 3701(d) applies to damages caused “by means of an explosive.”  The definition of “an explosive” derives from 13 V.S.A. § 1603(2).