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Criminal Mischief Colorado

Facing Criminal Mischief Charges in CO?
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Facing Criminal Mischief Charges? The Penalties Could Be Severe. You Need To Act Fast — Your FREEDOM Could Be On The Line.

If you are facing a criminal mischief charge in Colorado, you likely have a lot of questions about the potential consequences and what defense you could put forward to alleviate the penalties. Criminal mischief charges have the potential to be very serious offenses with the most extreme versions rising to the level of a class 2 felony charge.

Often, a criminal mischief charge will be part of a larger case with multiple charges, and understanding the ins and outs of the offense and its potential outcomes can help you make sense of your next steps.

The sooner that you speak with a criminal defense attorney about your case, the more informed you will be. As soon as you know that you are facing criminal charges, getting in touch with an attorney is in your best interest. In fact, it is advisable to contact an attorney anytime you are placed under arrest even before formal charges are brought forward.

The right time to call a criminal mischief attorney in Colorado Springs is as soon as you know that there is a potential for charges to be brought against you. Criminal mischief has the potential to be very disruptive with years of prison time and thousands of dollars in fees possible. The sooner you have an informed, experienced attorney able to advise you and examine your case, the more potential you have for an effective defense.

What is criminal mischief in Colorado? 

Criminal mischief is defined in CRS 18-4-501 and applies to a person who “knowingly damages the real or personal property of one or more other persons.” Real property is the term used to refer to land and any buildings or fixtures on that land. Personal property is basically anything else that someone can own that is not affixed to land. It might include tools, sentimental items, electronic equipment, or vehicles.

To put it simply, criminal mischief is a broad term for behaving in such a way that damages another person’s belongings, dwellings, or other buildings. Some examples of criminal mischief might include keying someone’s car after a fight or putting graffiti on the wall of someone’s store.

The motive does not necessarily have to be in anger as long as the person who did the damage did so “knowingly.” In other words, criminal mischief does not apply to accidental damage. If someone was driving while distracted and accidentally went off the road and ran over someone’s mailbox, it would not be criminal mischief. However, if someone smashed that same mailbox with a baseball bat while out on a joyride, it would be.

How are criminal mischief and domestic violence charges related?

Another important element of criminal mischief is its overlap with domestic violence. Often, criminal mischief is a charge that gets applied when items are broken during an argument. If a domestic dispute rises to the level of property damage, the person who caused the damage may be facing multiple charges.

In Colorado, suspects in domestic violence cases are placed under a mandatory domestic violence arrest, and the escalation of an argument to include criminal mischief will likely result in the triggering of this process.

Can I still be charged if I break something that belongs to me?

You might think that you cannot face charges for damaging your own property, but that is not accurate. The criminal mischief code makes it clear that criminal mischief applies to “property owned by the person jointly with another person.” It also applies to “property owned by the person in which another person has a possessory or proprietary interest.”

If, for instance, you are arguing with your spouse and throw a glass through the television set that you jointly own, you will likely still be charged with criminal mischief even though you broke your own property. Likewise, if you get in an argument with a tenant who rents a storefront from you and you smash the window of that building, you can be found guilty of criminal mischief despite owning the building.

What are the penalties for criminal mischief in Colorado? 

The penalties for criminal mischief in Colorado vary widely because the law has such broad applicability. If you intentionally break someone’s $50 sunglasses, you’ve committed criminal mischief. You’ve also committed criminal mischief if you steal and crash someone’s $3 million yacht. While the charge may be the same, the severity of the crimes and the extent of the damage done makes for different penalties. The penalties are determined by the value of the damage as follows:

  • Less than $300- Class 3 misdemeanor
    • Penalty: up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of $50 to $750
  • $300 to less than $750- Class 2 misdemeanor
    • Penalty: 3 to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of $250 to $1,000
  • $750 to less than $1,000- Class 1 misdemeanor
    • Penalty: 6 to 18 months in jail and/or a fine of $500 to $5,000
  • $1,000 to less than $5,000- Class 6 felony
    • 1 to 1.5 years in prison and/or a fine of $1,000 to $100,000
  • $5,000 to less than $20,000- Class 5 felony
    • 1 to 3 years in prison and/or a fine of $1,000 to $100,000
  • $20,000 to less than $100,000- Class 4 felony
    • 2 to 6 years in prison and/or a fine of $2,000 to $500,000
  • $100,000 to less than $1,000,000- Class 3 felony
    • 4 to 12 years in prison and/or a fine of $3,000 to $750,000
  • $1,000,000 or more- Class 2 felony
    • 8 to 24 years in prison and/or a fine of $5,000 to $1,000,000

As you can see, the penalties and severity of a criminal mischief charge can be quite substantial. Contacting an experienced attorney who can fully examine your case and the evidence against you is the best next step.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is criminal mischief a felony in Colorado?

It is possible for criminal mischief to be a felony in Colorado. Whether criminal mischief is considered a misdemeanor or a felony will depend on the value of the damage inflicted. Generally, anything less than $1,000 would be considered a misdemeanor, and anything over $1,000 would be considered a felony.

What is a mischief charge?

In Colorado, a criminal mischief charge has to do with intentional damage done to someone’s property. The charges can be misdemeanors or felonies, and the severity of the charge will depend on the value of the damage done.

Is criminal mischief the same as vandalism?

Criminal mischief and vandalism are essentially the same things. Vandalism tends to be a more common term, but the official legal term is criminal mischief.

What if they are saying what I damaged is worth more than it actually is?

The police usually charge someone with criminal mischief and base the level of the charge on the value that the person who reports the crime says the property is worth. For example, if you smash someone’s iPhone and they tell the cops the phone was worth $1000, you would be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor. However, the real price of an item is a defense in a case like this and can help you reduce the charges you are facing. If, for example, your criminal defense attorney was able to prove that the other person only paid $400 for the iPhone, your charges could be reduced by two levels to a class 3 misdemeanor.

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