Charged with Texas Criminal Mischief?
Have you or a family member been charged with criminal mischief in Texas? Seek legal counsel to avoid putting yourself at the whim of the uncaring courts. In this section, we will look at examples of criminal misbehavior, categories, sanctions, repercussions, and viable defenses. Our goal is to ensure that your rights have not been violated and that you receive all of the compassion that the legal system provides individuals, regardless of whatever mistakes they may have made.
What Is Criminal Mischief?
If you’re asking “what is criminal mischief,” look no further than Texas Penal Code Section 28.03, which classifies criminal mischief alongside arson and other property damage offenses. A person commits criminal mischief if, according to the law, he or she:
- Intentionally or knowingly damages or destroys tangible property belonging to another owner.
- Intentionally or knowingly tampers with tangible property of another owner, causing loss or inconvenience.
- Intentionally or knowingly makes markings, inscriptions, slogans, drawings, or paintings on a property.
Examples of Criminal Mischief in Texas
Common examples of criminal mischief may include:
- Tampering with utility meters to lower the bills
- Setting one’s own car on fire to get out of the remaining lien payments
- Spray-painting a wall, breaking a window, or damaging a fixed structure on a business or residence
- Tearing down walls, spray painting furnishings, pulling out plumbing fixtures in a home
- Damaging a farm fence to set animals free
- Ruining joint property, partially owned by a spouse, flat-mate, relative, or significant other
- Breaking car windows, keying car paint, breaking a headlamp, or tampering with windshield wipers
- Writing on school walls, desks, or lockers; plugging toilets, showers, and sinks to cause flooding
- Destroying books or school property as a “prank”
- Shooting at a person’s home, business, or vehicle
Criminal Mischief Classifications in Texas
Criminal mischief can be classified as follows:
- Class C Misdemeanor: For losses under $100 or substantial inconvenience to others.
- Class B Misdemeanor: For losses of $100-$750.
- Class A Misdemeanor: For losses of $750-$2,500 or damage to the public water supply.
- State Jail Felony: For $2,500-$30,000 in damage
- For less than $2,500 in damage if a habitable structure was damaged by firearms or explosives.
- For less than $2,500 in damage if the property was a fence containing livestock or game animals.
- For less than $30,000 if the damage affects public transportation, gas, power, communication, or service.
- Third-Degree Felony: For losses of $30,000 to $150,000 or if firearm discharge kills one or more livestock.
- Second-Degree Felony: For losses of $150,000 to $300,000.
- First-Degree Felony: For losses over $300,000.
Criminal Mischief Texas Penalties
Criminal mischief in Texas comes with stiff penalties. Even misdemeanors or lesser felonies carry the potential of 10 years in a state penitentiary. The punishment depends upon the particulars of your case — like whether the crime was committed recklessly or with intentional malice, as well as the dollar value of the damage.
Texas criminal mischief penalties include:
- Up to $500 in fines for a Class C Misdemeanor.
- Up to $2,000 in fines and 180 days in jail for a Class B Misdemeanor.
- Up to $4,000 in fines and one year in jail for a Class A Misdemeanor.
- Up to $10,000 in fines and 180 days to 2 years in jail for a State Jail Felony.
- Up to $10,000 in fines and two to 10 years in jail for a Third-Degree Felony.
- Up to $10,000 in fines and two to 20 years in jail for a Second-Degree Felony.
- Up to $10,000 in fines and five to 99 years in jail for a First-Degree Felony.
What Happens If I Have A Criminal Mischief Charge on My Record?
In the immediate aftermath of a criminal mischief charge, you may face restitution in addition to court costs, house arrest and payment for monitoring costs, probation with mandatory meetings and routine drug/alcohol screenings, restrictions on your driving privileges, and mandatory community service.
A criminal mischief offense on your record can also have major long-term consequences. If you are convicted of criminal mischief, you may have a criminal record for the rest of your life. According to the American Bar Association, people convicted of a crime face approximately 900 legal prohibitions.
For instance, you will be unable to:
- Serve as a personal representative or executor of a deceased person’s estate
- Obtain a license as a motor vehicle dealer, lottery ticket seller, daycare facility owner, or bond dealer
- Receive federal disaster assistance, student loans, or government employment
- Obtain a green card, become a naturalized citizen, or change immigration status
If convicted of a felony criminal mischief, you will be unable to:
- Own a firearm
- Operate a pyrotechnics display
- Work in private security
Furthermore, if the employer consistently conducts background checks, you may be denied employment and the right to rent accommodation. Your school has the legal authority to expel you. Obtaining custody of a child can be tough. If you get in problems with the law again, the penalties will be substantially harsher if you have a criminal record.
Aside from these constraints, convicted criminals endure social stigma and are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, persistent feelings of guilt and shame, and even PTSD, the impacts of which can last a lifetime.
Can Criminal Mischief Charges Be Dropped?
If you’re wondering, “Can criminal mischief charges be dropped?” call a Law Office. Ideal scenarios entail police violating the accused’s rights throughout the process, rendering evidence inadmissible in court, or allowing the case to be dismissed before proceedings begin.
A strong legal defense may be able to demonstrate that you did not commit the crime, that you did not mean to harm the property, that the property damage was not as costly as the plaintiff claims, or that the plaintiff behaved emotionally and is now repentant. In many circumstances, you can avoid extra penalties and prison time if you agree to repair or reimburse the property damage completely and on time.
Sometimes guilty plea deals are reached in order to reduce the punishment. Minors and first-time offenders may be eligible for deferred adjudication instead of probation or prison sentence. After a term of supervision, the charges may be withdrawn and the defendant’s record expunged.
The first step is to schedule a free appointment to go over the specifics of your circumstance. You can rely on a property crime defense lawyer to thoroughly investigate your case and protect your rights throughout the process.