It’s common to draw up images of juveniles having fun when you hear the term “criminal mischief.” Unfortunately, Texas law doesn’t share the same sentiment. In Texas, if you damage or alter property, including vandalizing it, then you will be charged with criminal mischief. Although criminal mischief may seem like a minor offense, you could still potentially face serious penalties. In some cases, offenders charged with criminal mischief can even face felony charges.
Most criminal mischief offenders committed the crime with no intention of hurting anyone. Often the act is simply a joke that’s gone out of hand, but that doesn’t erase the possibility of conviction. If you have been arrested or charged with criminal mischief, we urge you to get in contact with the experienced attorneys at The Benken Law Firm.
Houston Criminal Mischief Lawyer in Texas
It’s common for people charged with criminal mischief to not take the charges seriously and then regret their actions later once they’re sentenced. If you have been arrested for criminal mischief, we urge you to get in contact with The Benken Law Firm. Brian Benken is knowledgeable in all areas of property crime laws and will make every effort to right the allegations resting against you.
Call The Benken Law Firm and set up a free consultation at (713) 223 - 4051. At the consultation we will discuss your legal options and the next best steps to do going forward The Benken Law Firm accepts clients throughout the greater Harris County area and parts of Texas. Some of these communities include Houston, Midtown, Downtown Houston, Woodland Heights, Southside Place and Braeswood Place.
Overview of Criminal Mischief Charges in TX
- What Does Texas Classify as Criminal Mischief?
- What is the Penalty for Criminal Mischief?
- Additional Resources
What Does Texas Classify as Criminal Mischief?
Criminal mischief is an umbrella term for multiple types of offenses involving damaged or altered property. The crime can be found under the Texas Penal Code Section28.03, which states a person is guilty of criminal mischief is they knowingly or intentionally do any of the following without effective consent of the property’s owner.
- Damage or destroy the property;
- Tamper with the property and cause pecuniary loss or substantial inconvenience to the owner or third person; or
- Make any marking which does include inscriptions, slogans, drawing, or paintings
What Is the Penalty for Criminal Mischief in Texas?
The lightest charge a person can receive for criminal mischief is a class C misdemeanor. A person can only be charged with a class C misdemeanor if their crime involved any of the following factors:
- The amount of pecuniary loss was less than $100; or
- It caused a substantial inconvenience to others
The maximum penalty for a class C misdemeanor is a $500 fine.
Criminal mischief can be classified as a class B misdemeanor if the amount of pecuniary loss was more than $100, but less than $750. A class B misdemeanor can result in up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. The crime can be enhanced even further to a class A misdemeanor if the following are found to be proven true at trial.
- The amount of pecuniary loss is more than $750, but less than $2,500; or
- The crime somehow interrupted the public water supply in some way. This also includes installation or removal of any device that could affect the water supply.
The maximum consequences associated with a class A misdemeanor is up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
The offense can be reclassified to a state jail felony if the amount of pecuniary loss is:
- More than $2,500, but less than $30,000;
- Less than $2,500, but the property damaged or destroyed was a habitation and the damage was caused by a firearm or explosive weapon;
- Less than $2,500, but the property was a fence was used on a farm meant for:
- Cattle, bison, horses, sheep, swine, goats, exotic livestock or exotic poultry; or
- Game animals as defined under Section 63.001 of the Parks and Wildlife Code.
- Less than $30,000 and the offender;
- Interrupted property used for flood control purposed, a dam, public communications property, public transportation property, public gas, the power supply or any other public service available;
- Installed or removed a device that interrupted public communications or the gas/power supply
A state jail felony can result in up to two years in a state jail facility as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
An offender should expect to face a third-degree felony if:
- The pecuniary loss is more than $30,000, but less than $150,000;
- A firearm was used and discharged which ultimately resulted in one or more head of cattle, bison or horses to die
The maximum penalties for a third-degree felony include up to 10 years in prison and a fine maxed out at $10,000.
Criminal mischief cases where the amount of pecuniary loss was more than $150,000, but less than $300,000 are charged as a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The highest charge a person can receive for criminal mischief is a first-degree felony. A person can be charged with a first-degree if the pecuniary loss was more than $300,000. The minimum and maximum penalties for a first-degree felony include five to 99 years imprisonment, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
Texas Laws on Criminal Mischief – Visit the official website for the Texas Penal Code to learn more about their laws regarding criminal mischief. Access the site to find more information regarding the elements of the crime, the penalties and other related offenses such as arson or vandalism.
A Citizen’s Guide to the Texas Criminal Justice Process – Visit a how-to guide provided by the State Bar of Texas, Criminal Justice Section that details every step of a criminal trial in detail. Access the guide and learn court terminology, the stages of a criminal case, your rights as a defendant and other important information.
Harris County Lawyer for Criminal Mischief Charges in Texas
Have you been accused of criminal mischief? Then we suggest you retain legal counsel as soon as possible. A criminal mischief charge may seem minor, but under certain circumstances it can yield incredibly serious penalties. Begin building a sturdy defense by calling Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm today.
Attorney Brian Benken has aggressively defended his clients for decades. His extensive knowledge on property and criminal law gives him an advantage in the courtroom that you may need. To set up a free case review, contact The Benken Law Firm at (713) 223 - 4051. We practice throughout the all parts of Houston, the Harris County area and every region in Texas.