Criminal mischief may not sound like a serious crime, but a conviction for criminal mischief in Texas carries harsh penalties and consequences. You must take any criminal mischief charge seriously and understand your legal options and the charges you are facing.
The following offers an overview of criminal mischief in Texas, its definition, and penalties. For more information about criminal mischief and how the charge may apply to your case, contact an experienced San Antonio criminal defense attorney.
What is Criminal Mischief?
Vandalism or damage to another person’s property is considered criminal mischief in Texas. To be convicted of criminal mischief, a defendant must:
- Knowingly or intentionally damaged the property of another
- Causing a significant loss or inconvenience to that property owner
- Drawn graffiti on someone else’s property
Criminal mischief often includes damaging or defacing a:
- Motor vehicle
- Other public or private property
The elements of criminal mischief may be found under Texas Penal Code Section 28.03.
What are the Penalties and Punishments for Criminal Mischief in Texas?
The penalties and punishments for criminal mischief depend upon the value of the property involved and include:
- A Class C Misdemeanor. When the pecuniary loss is less than $50 or the act causes substantial inconvenience to others
- A Class B Misdemeanor. If the monetary loss is between $50 and $500
- A Class A Misdemeanor. This is for a financial loss of $500 or more but less than $1,500
- A State Jail Felony. When the financial loss is more than $1,500 but less than $20,000
- A Felony of the Third Degree. The financial loss is $20,000 or more but less than $100,000
- A Felony of the Second Degree. For monetary losses over $100,000 but less than $200,000
- A Felony of the first degree. When the loss amounts to more than $200,000
Enhanced Penalties for Criminal Mischief
The penalties for criminal mischief are enhanced to a Class A Misdemeanor when the crime results in less than $1,500 in monetary loss but causes:
- Impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public gas or power supply, or another public service
- Diversion of any public communications or public gas or power supply
- Impairment or interruption of any public water supply
- Diversion of any public water supply, regardless of the amount of the monetary loss
Criminal Mischief at a School, Place of Worship, or a Habitation
Criminal mischief is chargeable as a state jail felony when:
- The amount of the monetary loss to real property or tangible personal property is between $1,500 and $20,000, and the damage or destruction is inflicted on a public or private elementary school, secondary school, or institution of higher education
- The damage or destruction is inflicted on a place of worship or human burial, a public monument, or a community center that provides medical, social, or educational programs, and the amount of the monetary loss to real property or tangible personal property is less than $20,000
- The amount of financial loss is less than $1,500 if the property damaged or destroyed is a habitation and if the damage or destruction is caused by a firearm or explosive weapon
- The property was a fence used for the production or containment of
- Cattle, bison, horses, sheep, swine, goats, exotic livestock, or exotic poultry
- Game animals as that term is defined by Section 63.001, Parks and Wildlife Code
Contact an Experienced Criminal Attorney in Texas
If you are facing a criminal mischief charge in Texas, it is imperative you seek experienced legal counsel. Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda, PLLC, can evaluate your case at no cost to you and advise you of any legal options that are available.
At Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda, PLLC, we will fight to protect your legal rights and will strive to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Do not wait. Contact us in San Antonio today to learn more about working with our skilled legal team.