What is Criminal Mischief in Texas?
As one of the more common offenses charged in Texas, section 28.03(a) of the Texas Penal Code defines Criminal Mischief as intentionally or knowingly:
- Damaging or Destroying another’s tangible property;
- Tampering with another’s tangible property causing either pecuniary loss or substantial inconvenience to the owner or a third-party; or
- Defacing another’s tangible property by drawing, inscribing or painting on the property
Under section 28.01(3), Texas Penal Code, “property” is defined as “real property[,] tangible or intangible property, including anything severed from land[ ] or a document, including money, that represents or embodies anything of value.”
The primary concern of a Criminal Mischief charge is the amount of damage caused which determines the severity of the offense. If charged with Criminal Mischief in Fort Worth, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your options to get the best outcome possible.
Reckless Damage or Destruction
It is also possible that an experienced attorney can possibly get the Criminal Mischief charge down-graded to the offense of Reckless Damage or Destruction of property, a Class C Misdemeanor. As a lesser included offense, Reckless Damage or Destruction, as defined under section 28.04 of the Texas Penal Code, is damaging or destructive conduct without the owner’s consent. An experienced Fort Worth criminal defense attorney will be able to identify the facts which may support the lesser charge.
How Criminal Mischief is Charged in Texas
Since a variety of conduct can constitute Criminal Mischief, Texas law defines the level of severity by the monetary value of the damage. The severity can range from a Class C Misdemeanor all the way to a First Degree Felony. As with any criminal charge, a criminal defense attorney should conduct a clear and thorough investigation of your case. Under section 28.03(b) of the Texas Penal Code, Criminal Mischief charges can be classified as a:
- Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $500, where the monetary loss is less than $100 or the damage causes substantial inconvenience to the owner;
- Class B Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail, up to a $2,000 fine or both, where the monetary loss is more than $100 but less than $750;
- Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail, up to a $4,000 fine or both, where the monetary loss is more than $750 but less than $2,500;
- State Jail Felony, punishable by up to 2-years in State Jail, up to a $10,000 fine or both, where the monetary loss is more than $2,500 but less than $30,000 or less than $2,500 if the damage or destruction was done to a Habitation caused by a Firearm or Explosive Weapon or to a fence for the purpose of containment of livestock;
- Third Degree Felony, punishable by up to 10-years in prison, up to a $10,000 fine or both, where the monetary loss is more than $30,000 but less than $150,000;
- Second Degree Felony, punishable by up to 20-years in prison, up to a $10,000 fine or both, where the monetary loss is more than $150,000 but less than $300,000; or
- First Degree Felony, punishable by up to Life in prison, up to a $10,000 fine or both, where the monetary loss is more than $300,000.
Defense to a Criminal Mischief Charge
While navigating the criminal justice system can be intimidating, the aggressive and experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Cofer Luster Law Firm can provide concise explanations of the applicable law and investigate the facts of your case to develop a successful defense.
Lacking the Necessary Mental State
As indicated in the Texas Criminal Mischief statute, to be guilty of the offense, the person must act INTENTIONALLY and KNOWINGLY.
- Section 6.03(a) instructions that a person acts INTENTIONALLY or with intent when they act with the conscious objective or desire to either engage in the conduct or cause the result.
- Section 6.03(b) instructions that a person acts KNOWINGLY or with knowledge when they act with the awareness that their conduct is reasonably certain to cause the result.
The prosecution’s failure to prove the necessary mental state beyond a reasonable doubt should result in an acquittal for not meeting their required burden.
Aside from statutory inadequacies, your defense attorney can use their understanding of the law to review the facts of your case and determine whether there are sufficient grounds for pretrial motions to either set aside the action or suppress evidence. The facts of your case are specific and unique to your defense and must be reviewed by a defense attorney, experienced with Texas Criminal Law and Procedure.
Contact Us Now to Fight For You
As some of the best and most experienced criminal defense attorneys in Fort Worth, the Cofer Luster Law Firm can provide you with a free consultation to speak with you about your case and determine the best course of action. When charged with any level of Criminal Mischief in Texas, it is critical that you seek the help of experienced criminal defense attorneys before it is too late!