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Criminal Mischief Colorado

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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.

When should I call a Colorado Springs criminal mischief attorney?

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

What is the sentence for misdemeanors in Colorado?

  • Class 1

  • 6 to 18 months in county jail, and/or
  • $500 to $5,000 in fines
  • For extraordinary risk class 1 misdemeanors, the maximum jail sentence is 24 months.
  • For 3rd-degree assault (CRS 18-3-204), the maximum sentence can be 48 months if the victim was on duty as a:
    • Peace officer,
    • Emergency medical provider,
    • Firefighter, or
    • Mental health professional at the Department of Human Services.
  • Class 2

  • 3 to 12 months in county jail, and/or
  • $250 to $1,000 in fines

What are Colorado felony penalties?

  • Class 1

  • Life imprisonment
  • No Colorado crime carries the death penalty.
  • Class 2

  • 8 – 24 years in Colorado State Prison, and/or
  • $5,000 – $1,000,000
  • 5 years of mandatory parole if the offense is a crime of violence. Otherwise, 3 years of mandatory parole.
  • Class 3

  • 4-12 years in prison
  • Fines of up to $750,000 but not less than $3,000
  • 3 years of parole
  • Class 4

  • 2 – 6 years in prison, and/or
  • $2,000 – $500,000
  • 3 years of mandatory parole
  • For extraordinary risk class 4 felonies, the maximum sentence is 8 years in prison.
  • Class 5

  • 1 – 3 years in prison, and/or
  • $1,000 – $100,000
  • 2 years of mandatory parole
  • For extraordinary risk class 5 felonies, the maximum sentence is 4 years in prison.
  • Class 6

  • 1 – 18 months years in prison, and/or
  • $1,000 – $100,000
  • 1 year of mandatory parole
  • For extraordinary risk class 6 felonies, the maximum sentence is 2 years in prison.

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Ask A Criminal Defense Attorney

At Right Law Group, we understand the stress you are under. Our Criminal Defense Law Firm is here to guide you down the right path to your legal challenge. Whether you are facing your first DUI, a drug charge, need a restraining order, or are facing another type of criminal charge, our firm is committed to your well-being and protecting your rights the right way.

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.

Experienced Criminal Mischief Lawyer

Colorado Springs Criminal Mischief Lawyer Near You

When you’re charged with criminal mischief in Colorado, you need a lawyer who is familiar with the laws and knows how the court system works. Criminal defense attorneys work with you to help you establish a strong defense. Even if you believe that a conviction is inevitable, a criminal defense lawyer can help you fight for a lesser charge, a reduced sentence, or another more favorable outcome. Contact us right away for a free case consultation.