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.
|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.)|
The elements of the crime of possession of burglary tools are:
The prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of criminal mischief.
To do this, prosecutors must prove these elements:
The best available defenses for criminal mischief in Colorado then are:
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(2) and (3) Repealed.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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some common examples of Colorado criminal mischief include:
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.
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.