Criminal Mischief

What is Criminal Mischief, Property Damage and Vandalism?

The criminal offenses involving property damage, more commonly known as criminal mischief, can also be charged as vandalism, or reckless damage, depending on the property that was damaged and value or cost of loss, repairs, or damage.

Section 28.04, Reckless Damage or Destruction is when a person recklessly damages or destroys property of the owner (without the owner's consent).

Section 28.08, Graffiti, occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly makes markings, including inscriptions, slogans, drawings, or paintings, on another's property by using paint; an indelible marker; or an etching or engraving device.

What can I expect with an offense of Criminal Mischief

If at the Misdemeanor level, an individual arrested for Criminal Mischief can expect to pay back the cost of the damage. Furthermore, there is the possibility of probation, deferred adjudication, jail time, and even prison, especially if the prosecutors determine that the Criminal Mischief involved an expensive or difficult to replace item.

Criminal Mischief Priors and More Information

One major concern is when an individual spray paints or tags multiple objects in an area, such as several signs and walls on a street. The Graffiti laws allow the prosecution to add together all of the damaged property, claiming that all of the vandalism was one scheme or a continuing course of conduct. Therefore, the conduct may be considered as one offense, and the amounts of damage resulting from the vandalism may be aggregated in determining the grade of the offense. What does that mean? It means if a person spraypainted four street signs on a street, and it's determined that each sign will cost $400 to replace or clean, then that person is not charged with four counts of Class B Misdemeanor Graffiti; it means that person would be charged with Felony Graffiti, since 4 signs x $400 = $1,600 damage, which is a State Jail Felony offense.

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(a) A person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner: (1) he intentionally or knowingly damages or destroys the tangible property of the owner; (2) he intentionally or knowingly tampers with the tangible property of the owner and causes pecuniary loss or substantial inconvenience to the owner or a third person; or (3) he intentionally or knowingly makes markings, including inscriptions, slogans, drawings, or paintings, on the tangible property of the owner.

What are the Criminal Mischief Punishments?

Criminal Mischief penalties can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depend upon the extent of damage or destruction of property. Breaking a chair is obviously less serious than vandalising a car. A lot of the penalty and punlishment for Criminal Mischief will depend on the cost of the item damaged. A court will typically also order any restitution for the damage caused.

Penalties for Criminal Mischief
Level of Offense Punishment
Class C Misdemeanor Not Jailable, No more than $500 fines
Class B Misdemeanor Not more than 180 days in a county jail, and/or no more than $2,000 fines
Class A Misdemeanor Not more than 1 year in a county jail, and/or no more than $4,000 fines
State jail felony 180 days to 2 years in a state jail, and/or no more than $10,000 fines
3rd Degree Felony 2-10 Years in Prison, and/or no more than $10,000 fines

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