The word “mischief” may make you think of childhood hijinks or pranks. Under Texas law, however, that word can mean significant jail time and massive fines.
What Is Criminal Mischief?
“Criminal Mischief” in Texas refers to a wide range of activities involving damage to property belonging to others that constitute both misdemeanor and felony offenses with severe punishments.
You can be convicted of this offense for almost any form of intentional damage to or tampering with someone else’s property without their consent. Specifically, Section 28.03 of the Texas Penal Code defines criminal mischief as:
- Intentionally or knowingly damaging or destroying the tangible property of the owner without their consent;
- Intentionally or knowingly tampering with the tangible property of the owner and causing monetary loss or substantial inconvenience to the owner or a third person; or
- Intentionally or knowingly making markings, including inscriptions, slogans, drawings, or paintings, on the tangible property of the owner (graffiti).
Penalties for Criminal Mischief
Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, and the severity of your punishment upon conviction, will depend on the extent of the damage and financial loss you cause. But both the lowest level misdemeanor and the most serious felony will leave stains on your record and reputation that can have long-term consequences beyond dollars out of your pocket or years behind bars.
The penalties upon conviction for criminal mischief in Texas are as follows:
- Financial loss of less than $50 or substantial inconvenience – a Class C misdemeanor that can result in a fine of up to $500.
- Financial loss between $50 and $499 – a Class B Misdemeanor which can lead to a jail sentence of up to 180 days and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
- Financial loss between $500 and $1,499 or impairment or disruption of any public water supply – the penalties for this Class A misdemeanor can be a jail sentence of up to one year and/or fines of up to $4,000.
- State Jail Felony – any of the following are State Jail Felonies punishable by up to two years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000:
Financial loss between $1,500 and $19,999;
Damage of less than $1,500, but to a home by a firearm or explosive, or damage or destruction of a fence used to hold livestock; or
Damage of less than $20,000 involving disruption of public communications, gas, power supply, transportation, or any other public service.
- Felony of the Third Degree – you could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and/or fined up to $10,000 for financial loss between $20,000 and $99,000.
- Felony of the Second Degree – you could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and/or fined up to $10,000 for financial loss between $100,000 and $199,000.
- Felony of the First Degree – you could be sentenced to prison for up to 99 years and/or fined up to $10,000 for a financial loss greater than $200,000
Call Today for Your Free Consultation With Criminal Mischief Attorney
If you are facing criminal mischief charges of any kind in Hays, Guadalupe, or Comal County, you need to take the matter seriously. Police and prosecutors certainly will.
Call the Law Office of Case J. Darwin today at (210) 630-4780 or contact us online to arrange for your free initial consultation.