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Colorado Criminal Mischief

Colorado Springs Criminal Mischief Lawyer

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Colorado statute CRS 18-4-501—known as criminal mischief—occurs when a person knowingly and intentionally causes damage to someone else’s property, whether it’s personal property or real estate. This includes any property owned jointly between the person that caused the damage and someone else.

Penalties for Criminal Mischief in Colorado

Value of the Damage Caused Classification Penalty
Under $300 Petty Offense Maximum of $300 in fines and/or 10 days in jail
Over $300 but under $1,000 Class 2 Misdemeanor Maximum of $750 in fines and/or 120 days in jail
Over $1,000 but under $2,000 Class 1 Misdemeanor Maximum of $1,000 in fines and/or 364 days in jail
Over $2,000 but under $5,000 Class 6 Felony Fines between $1,000 and $100,000 and/or 1–1.5 years in prison

 

Over 5,000 but under $20,000 Class 5 Felony Fines between $1,000 and $100,000 and/or 1–3 years in prison
Over $20,000 but under $100,000 Class 4 Felony Fines between $2,000 and $500,000 and/or 2–6 years in prison
Over $100,000 but under $1 million Class 3 Felony Fines between $3,000 and $750,000 and/or 4–12 years in prison
$1 million or more Class 2 Felony Fines between $5,000 and $1 million and/or 8–24 years in prison
(Colo. Rev. Stat. § § 18-3-202, 18-3-203, 18-1.3-401, 18-1.3-406, 18-1.3-501.)

Here Is What The Prosecution Must Prove to Convict You

The elements of the crime of possession of burglary tools are:

  1. That the defendant,
  2.  in the State of Colorado, at or about the date and place charged,
  3. knowingly,
  4. damaged the real or personal property of one or more other persons, including property owned by the defendant jointly with another person or property owned by the defendant in which, at the time of the damage, another person had a possessory or proprietary interest,
  5. in the course of a single criminal episode.
  6. If there is an affirmative defense raised, the prosecution must also prove that the defendant’s conduct was not legally authorized by the affirmative defense.

Possible Defenses for Criminal Mischief in Colorado

The prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of criminal mischief.

To do this, prosecutors must prove these elements:

  1. You damaged the property in question.
  2. The property damaged belonged to another person.
  3. You caused the damage to the other person’s property deliberately

The best available defenses for criminal mischief in Colorado then are:

  • The defendant did not knowingly or intentionally cause the damage, and it was, in fact, an accident
  • The defendant damaged the property in a reasonable act of self-defense
  • The defendant was misidentified, and they were not the person that damaged the property
  • The defendant is a victim of a false accusation and did not damage the property in question
  • The defendant had nothing to do with the damage caused, or the damage was incurred previously to the defendant’s involvement

Colorado Revised Statutes, CRS 18-4-501:

18-4-501. Criminal mischief.

(1) A person commits criminal mischief when he or she knowingly damages the real or personal property of one or more other persons, including property owned by the person jointly with another person or property owned by the person in which another person has a possessory or proprietary interest, in the course of a single criminal episode.

(2) and (3) Repealed.

(4) Criminal mischief is:

(a) A class 3 misdemeanor when the aggregate damage to the real or personal property is less than three hundred dollars;

(b) A class 2 misdemeanor when the aggregate damage to the real or personal property is three hundred dollars or more but less than seven hundred fifty dollars;

(c) A class 1 misdemeanor when the aggregate damage to the real or personal property is seven hundred fifty dollars or more but less than one thousand dollars;

 (d) A class 6 felony when the aggregate damage to the real or personal property is one thousand dollars or more but less than five thousand dollars;

 (e) A class 5 felony when the aggregate damage to the real or personal property is five thousand dollars or more but less than twenty thousand dollars;

 (f) A class 4 felony when the aggregate damage to the real or personal property is twenty thousand dollars or more but less than one hundred thousand dollars;

 (g) A class 3 felony when the aggregate damage to the real or personal property is one hundred thousand dollars or more but less than one million dollars; and

 (h) A class 2 felony when the aggregate damage to the real or personal property is one million dollars or more. 

Have you been charged or arrested for criminal mischief in Colorado Springs or El Paso County?

Criminal mischief can come with significant penalties, including hefty fines, jail time, and even prison, depending on the severity of the damage caused. It’s the prosecution’s responsibility to convince the jury that you intentionally damaged another person’s property. A criminal mischief conviction requires that a jury finds you guilty of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. There are quite a few possible defenses for this criminal charge, and they all aim to prove that you did not cause the damage, didn’t cause the damage willfully, or had reasonable cause to damage the property. To defend yourself against an accusation of criminal mischief, you need to understand how Colorado law applies to the charge and what the District Attorney in Colorado Springs or El Paso County needs to prove according to the law.

Don’t let one wrong decision impact your life, job or freedom.

Call today for a free case evaluation.

Colorado criminal procedure

  • Arrest or
    Summons
    01

    Arrest or
    Summons

    The process begins with either an arrest or a summons. The accused is either arrested or served with paperwork summoning them to appear in court. During an arrest, Miranda rights may or may not be read to you. Officers are only required to recite your rights if they intend to question you about potentially incriminating things.

  • Bond Hearing
    02

    Bond Hearing

    In most cases, you're entitled to have a reasonable bond set after you've been arrested. In situations involving domestic violence, the police will request input from the victim before setting a bond. Bonds are set to ensure that a person appears in court at their court dates. If they don’t show up, they forfeit the money that was paid for the bond.

  • Advisement of
    Charges
    03

    Advisement of
    Charges

    Whether you are arrested or given a summons to appear, the court must make sure you understand what crimes you are being accused of committing. This is called advisement of charges. The District Attorney will detail the specific charges against you, and the Judge has to make sure you understand what possible penalties are associated with that charge in the state.

  • Preliminary Hearing
    (for Higher Felony
    Charges)
    04

    Preliminary Hearing
    (for Higher Felony
    Charges)

    A preliminary hearing is a way for your defense attorney to challenge the District Attorney’s right to bring charges against you by making them prove that there is reason to believe you committed a crime. The Judge is not deciding your guilt or innocence, but rather whether or not there is probable cause to charge you with the crime in question.

  • Pretrial Conference /
    Disposition
    Hearing
    05

    Pretrial Conference /
    Disposition
    Hearing

    This court date comes after your attorney has reviewed all of the reports and evidence in your case. Here’s where your attorney will engage in plea negotiations with the DA. If they can reach an agreement on the case, you may be able to take a plea bargain. If they cannot reach a resolution, your case will be set for an arraignment or trial date.

  • Arraignment
    06

    Arraignment

    An arraignment is the final date for you to decide how you choose to plea. Guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, then the case is set for a sentencing date. If you plead not guilty, you and your attorney will then set the case for trial.

  • Motions Hearing
    07

    Motions Hearing

    A motion hearing is when an attorney makes a request that requires a decision from the judge. For example, motions to suppress evidence or statements. These motions can limit the information that goes before a jury if it benefits your case, and there are legal grounds for doing so.

  • Pretrial Readiness
    Conference
    08

    Pretrial Readiness
    Conference

    A pretrial readiness conference is held at some point before trial. It usually is held about a week to a month before the date trial is set to begin. This court date ensures everyone is ready to go to trial on the set date. It is also a time for lawyers to bring up any issues they may have to be addressed before the day of trial.

  • Jury Trial
    09

    Jury Trial

    After a jury is selected for trial, the District Attorney’s responsibility is to present the case to the jury. The DA must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the crime. Otherwise, the jury must find you innocent. Your attorney will be able to cross-examine all of the witnesses, present evidence, and ultimately help you navigate this process.

  • Sentencing
    Date
    10

    Sentencing
    Date

    At sentencing, the Judge must decide the appropriate legal penalty for the crime you plead guilty. The Judge’s decision is based on the listed penalties for the specific charge, recommendations from the presentence investigation, your criminal history, as well as statements made at the sentencing by the District Attorney, your attorney, you, and any named victims of the crime.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some examples of criminal mischief in Colorado?

Some common examples of Colorado criminal mischief include:

  • Vandalism
  • Graffiti
  • Property defacement
  • Tampering with fire alarms, emergency exits, or utility meters
  • Breaking any kind of object
  • Punching a wall

What steps should I take when facing criminal mischief charges?

If you’ve been arrested for criminal mischief, the most important thing you can do is hire a Colorado Springs Criminal Defense Attorney. Be sure to request that your lawyer be present before any police questioning occurs.

What are the benefits of hiring an attorney for Colorado criminal mischief charges?

Criminal defense attorneys benefit you in several ways after a criminal mischief arrest. A lawyer will be an expert in Colorado criminal law and be able to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. They’ll advocate for your rights and may even be able to negotiate a lesser sentence or get the charges dismissed altogether, depending on the case.