Criminal Mischief In Texas
Under the Texas Penal Code, criminal mischief is defined as intentionally or recklessly damaging or destroying someone else’s property without their effective consent. The offense may also be committed by tampering with someone else’s property, including making markings or inscriptions on it, without their consent.
Statutory Definition of Criminal Mischief
Texas’s statutory definition of criminal mischief can be found in the Texas Penal Code, Section 28.03. The statute defines criminal mischief as intentionally or recklessly damaging or destroying property of another without their consent, or intentionally or recklessly tampering with the property of another person so as to cause damage or loss to that person.
The term “property” is defined broadly to include both tangible and intangible property, such as real estate, personal property, computer data, and computer software. The term “tamper” is also defined broadly to include any act that interferes with or damages property in a way that causes loss or damage to the owner or possessor of the property.
The degree of the offense and the potential punishment depend on the value of the property damaged or destroyed.
Penalties of Criminal Mischief
Specifically, Texas Penal Code § 28.03 outlines the following degrees of criminal mischief:
- If the damage to the property is valued at less than $100, the offense is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.
- If the damage is valued at $100 or more but less than $750, the offense is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
- If the damage is valued at $750 or more but less than $2,500, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
- If the damage is valued at $2,500 or more but less than $30,000, the offense is a state jail felony punishable by 180 days to two years in a state jail facility and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
- If the damage is valued at $30,000 or more but less than $150,000, the offense is a third-degree felony punishable by two to ten years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
- If the damage is valued at $150,000 or more, the offense is a second-degree felony punishable by two to twenty years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Possible Defense Against Charges
If you have been charged with criminal mischief in Texas, there are several possible defenses that may be available to you. Some possible defenses that a criminal defense attorney may consider include:
- Lack of intent: Criminal mischief requires the intent to cause damage or destruction to someone else’s property. If you did not intend to damage the property, you may be able to argue that you lacked the necessary intent to be convicted of the offense.
- Consent: If the owner of the property gave you permission to engage in the conduct that caused the alleged damage, you may be able to argue that you had the owner’s consent to do so, and therefore cannot be convicted of criminal mischief.
- Mistaken identity: If you have been falsely accused of criminal mischief, you may be able to argue that you were not the person who caused the damage to the property.
- Self-defense: In some cases, you may be able to argue that you were defending yourself or someone else from harm, and that the damage to the property was incidental to that defense.
- Insufficient evidence: If the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to prove that you committed the offense, your defense attorney may be able to argue that the charges should be dismissed.
It’s important to note that the specific defense strategies that may be available to you will depend on the facts of your case. It is also important to seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case and develop a defense strategy tailored to your specific situation.
Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!
Hiring a criminal defense attorney in Texas can be highly beneficial if you are facing criminal charges for criminal mischief. This conviction can have significant and long-lasting consequences on your life, including financial penalties, criminal record.
Our criminal defense lawyers can help you understand your legal options, navigate the complex legal system, and work to minimize the impact of a conviction on your life. They can also negotiate with prosecutors, potentially leading to reduced charges or penalties, and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal process.