Acts of vandalism are often shown in television dramas and movies as childish rebellious acts by young teens who face no consequences. Unfortunately, these depictions are the furthest from reality. In Texas, vandalism is a serious crime where a person intentionally or deliberately destroys or damages public or private property without consent. The offense can include a variety of acts including arson, smashing mailboxes, etching messages onto monuments and/or buildings, throwing eggs at cars, graffiti on public or private property, and any other crimes including damage against property.
Don’t fall for the misconception that vandalism is a minor crime. Depending on the circumstances of the case, your charges can range from a simple misdemeanor to a felony. If you or someone you know has been charged with vandalism, it’s important you seek criminal legal representation as soon as possible.
Texas Vandalism Attorney
Thanks to movies and other types of media, you might think vandalism is a minor offense. While in some cases yes this is true, it’s not always the rule. Vandalism can result in serious criminal consequences including time in jail or prison and large court fines. That is why we highly encourage you to seek legal representation with The Benken Law Firm if you’ve been accused of vandalism or any other property crime in Texas.
Brian Benken is a respected and experienced attorney with decades of practice under his belt. He’s been defending individuals from property crime charges including vandalism for years and can do the same for you. He’s also licensed as a private investigator, so he can use his extensive skills to discover facts that may help your case.
Call The Benken Law Firm today at (713) 223 - 4051 to set up your first consultation with Brian Benken. The Benken Law Firm accepts clients throughout the greater Houston area including Lawndale, River Oaks, Hedwig Village, Great East End, and many others. He also accepts clients in all parts of Harris County and throughout the state of Texas.
- What is Considered Vandalism?
- Vandalism Definition Under Texas Law
- Texas Penalties for Vandalism
- Defenses for Vandalism in Texas
- Additional Resources
What is Considered Vandalism?
For some states, the act of vandalism has its own statute. In Texas, committing vandalism is illegal but the crime doesn’t have its own section. Instead, you can find acts of vandalism in several other crimes including criminal mischief, reckless damage or destruction to another’s property, and/or graffiti. Listed below are some examples of common acts of vandalism.
- Spray painting a wall, window, or building
- Filling a motor vehicle’s gas tank with water or sugar
- “Keying” or scratching up another person’s automobile
- Breaking windows with rocks
- Turning on the faucet in a public restroom and letting it flood
- Egging another person’s home or car
- Smashing mailboxes
- “Forking” a yard by putting hundreds of forks in the grass and cutting up the sod
- Spray painted or damaged a monument or public art
Vandalism Charges in Texas
As we stated above, vandalism can be categorized as one of various charges under Texas law. What defines the offense will depend on the facts of the case. If you recklessly damaged or destroyed another person’s property without the owner’s permission, then you’ll be charged with reckless damage or destruction. This type of charge is usually reserved for acts of vandalism like smashing a person’s mailbox or breaking another person’s window.
You may be charged with criminal mischief under the Texas Penal Code Section 28.03 if you intentionally or knowingly did any of the following without consent from the owner.
- Destroy or damage tangible property
- Tamper with tangible property and cause a serious loss or substantial inconvenience to the owner
- Create paintings, drawings, writings, inscriptions, or slogans on another person’s tangible property without permission
Drawing, painting, spray painting, marking on, inscribing, or writing on another person’s tangible property without their consent using any of the following can result in a criminal charge for graffiti.
- Permanent markers
- Spray paint
- Etching or engraving tools
Using fire or an explosion to damage or destroy another person’s property may result in a charge of arson. Out of all offenses listed, arson has the harshest penalties. The lightest charge a person can receive is a state jail felony and certain enhancements could upgrade the offense to a third, second, or third-degree felony.
Penalty for Vandalism in Texas
The penalties for committing vandalism will depend on the facts of the case and what criminal charge you’re facing. The punishment for the crime may increase if you have a prior felony conviction, if someone died or sustained serious bodily injury because of the crime, and/or you used a weapon while committing the offense.
Listed below are the various penalties you may face for committing vandalism.
- Class C misdemeanor — Fine up to $500.
- Class B misdemeanor – Jail sentence up to 180 days and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
- Class A misdemeanor – 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
- State Jail Felony – Jail sentence ranging from 180 days to two years and/or a fine up to $10,000.
- Third-Degree Felony — 2 to 10 years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000.
- Second Degree Felony – 2 to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
- First-Degree Felony – 5 to 99 years or life imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Defenses for Vandalism in Texas
- Property damage was an accident;
- The owner consented to the markings or paintings;
- The property belonged to the defendant; or
- Another person represented themselves to be the owner;
Texas Laws for Offenses Against Property – Visit the official website for the Texas Penal Code to read up on their offenses against property Title 7 Chapter 28. Access the site to learn more about arson, criminal mischief, and other property damage or destruction offenses in Texas.
The Basics of Juvenile Law – Vandalism is a common offense among youths, especially minors under the age of 18. Juveniles in Texas face a different judicial system than adults and if you’re a minor facing charges it’s important you have an understanding of how the system works. To learn more about the basics of juvenile law in Texas, visit the link provided.
Houston Vandalism Attorney | Harris County, TX
If you or someone you know has been arrested for vandalism or criminal mischief, call The Benken Law Firm. Attorney Brian Benken has over three decades of experience defending people from all types of property crimes including graffiti, vandalism, arson, and reckless destruction of another’s property. He can assess the facts of your case and develop a formidable defense for you.
Call him today to set up your first consultation free of charge at (713) 223 - 4051.