Temple Criminal Mischief Attorney
Criminal mischief is one of those crimes many people have heard of but few can actually define. Make no mistake: a conviction for criminal mischief can carry some big penalties, so no one should blow off the accusations. Anyone accused should take the charges very seriously and seek out an experienced Temple criminal mischief defense attorney.
It is important to remember that an accusation or charge of mischief is not the same as a conviction. Many defendants have options for fighting these charges, and we encourage you to contact The Law Office of Katie L. Gomez, PLLC today.
Examples of Criminal Mischief
This offense is described in Texas Penal Code § 28.03. A person can be convicted of criminal mischief when they, without the owner’s consent, intentionally or knowingly:
- Destroy or otherwise damage another person’s tangible property
- Cause damage or serious inconvenience to someone’s tangible property by tampering with it
- Spray graffiti or make other markings on someone’s tangible property
As defined by the law, the defendants actions must have been intentional or done knowing that damage will result. For example, accidentally running over someone’s property is not criminal mischief, nor is it criminal mischief to damage property negligently.
The property must also be tangible. In effect, this is anything a person can touch, such as a car or real estate.
Criminal Mischief: Misdemeanor or Felony?
This is one of those criminal offenses which can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the amount of damage caused by the defendant:
- Under $100 of damage: Class C misdemeanor
- Between $100 and $750: Class B misdemeanor
- Between $750 and $2,500: Class A misdemeanor
- Between $2,500 and $30,000: state jail felony
- Between $30,000 and $150,000: third-degree felony
- Between $150,000 and $300,000: second-degree felony
- At least $300,000 or more: first-degree felony
There are certain exceptions to the scheme listed above. For example, a defendant might face felony charges even if the damage is less than $2,500 if they used a firearm or explosive or they damaged a fence used for livestock.
Criminal penalties will vary by the charge. For example, a Class C misdemeanor is the least serious offense in Texas, with a $500 fine as the maximum penalty (and no jail time). By contrast, a felony conviction can result in years in prison.
Are There Defenses to Criminal Mischief?
In our experience, there are usually many defenses potentially available, but everything depends on the facts.
In some cases, the police have the wrong person. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the police would pick up the wrong person. Many cases involving property damage turn on security footage that is grainy or too far away to be helpful, and eyewitnesses are often mistaken.
Another defense is consent. If the owner gave you permission to tamper with property, then it is not criminal mischief so long as you do not exceed the bounds of the consent.
As mentioned above, no defendant can be convicted if his or her conduct was accidental. The state has the burden of proving a defendant’s state of mind, and the statute requires that defendants intentionally or knowing caused the damage. Often, state of mind is hard to prove, and we can work to get charges reduced or dismissed.
Speak with Us Today
Graffiti and paint can wash away, but a criminal record lasts forever. Fight back by contacting The Law Office of Katie L. Gomez today to schedule a free consultation.