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Criminal mischief is a common crime in Texas and one that we often see committed by young people. According to Texas Penal Code Section 28.03, criminal mischief occurs when an individual intentionally damages or destroys property, tampers with property, causes substantial inconvenience to the property owner, or creates markings of some kind on an owner’s property. The key to this charge is the damage to the property, not possession.
Types of property damage that may be categorized as criminal mischief include breaking windows, keying cars, egging houses, smashing mailboxes, destroying school property and defacing a public building with spray paint. It is important to note that individuals who damage their own property cannot be convicted of criminal mischief unless they share ownership with someone else. Examples of criminal mischief can include:
Punishment for this offense is generally decided by the monetary damage.
Criminal mischief in Texas can be punished as a misdemeanor or as felony depending on the amount of damage that was caused. For example, if the damage was less than $100, you could be facing a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. If the damage was between $1500 to $30,000, you could be looking at up to two years in a state jail facility. In some cases, it is possible to get this charge dismissed in exchange for repair or repayment of the property damage to the owner. That’s why it’s important to talk to a skilled defense attorney as soon as possible. Here’s a look at the breakdown of punishment ranges:
Generally, a property offense charge relies heavily on the physical evidence and witness statements. Police must show that the defendant knew he or she didn’t have the right destroy or damage the property, that the accused intended to destroy or damage it and that the accused physically committed the act that caused the damage. One of the most effective ways to combat criminal mischief charges is by challenging the reliability of the physical evidence and the legality of the process police used to find it.
A knowledgeable attorney can explain the law and the potential consequences. If you are a first-time offender under age 24, you may be eligible for a diversion program that can keep your record clean. The Fort Worth criminal mischief attorneys at the law firm of Varghese Summersett can help. Contact us today to find out your legal options.