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criminal mischief photoCriminal mischief occurs any time a person damages another’s property without the owner’s permission, no matter how minor or severe the harm. The definition of criminal mischief varies slightly by state and may also be known by other names, such as malicious mischief, vandalism, damage to property, or criminal damage.

Criminal mischief penalties can be severe and may include prison time. If you were charged with criminal mischief in Colorado, the Denver defense attorneys at Wolf Law LLC are here to help you understand your options and achieve a fair resolution.

Criminal Mischief in Colorado

Under Colorado law, criminal mischief occurs when someone “knowingly damages the real or personal property of one or more other persons.” This crime does not include stealing, but rather anything that damages, breaks, or defaces another person’s property.

Because the definition in Colorado law requires the crime to be committed “knowingly,” it is impossible to accidentally commit criminal mischief. For example, if you’re spray painting furniture and accidentally get paint on your neighbor’s fence, you can’t be charged with criminal mischief. However, if you intentionally spray paint your neighbor’s fence without their permission, you can be charged with criminal mischief.

Criminal Mischief and Domestic Violence

In a domestic violence case, the accused may be inclined to think that they have a right to damage property that they own with their spouse or partner. However, the section of Colorado law dealing with criminal mischief shows this is not the case. The full excerpt from the law states:

“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.” 

For instance, the person accused of domestic violence could break a glass by throwing it or damage a wall by punching it. In this scenario, the accused would be charged with criminal mischief, in addition to any assault and domestic violence charges they may be facing, despite the fact that they own the property they damaged.

Types of Criminal Mischief

There are many crimes that can be labeled as criminal mischief depending on the circumstances. The attorneys at Wolf Law can work with with individuals charged with criminal mischief who have:

  • Committed vandalism, defaced property, or painted graffiti
  • Tampered with emergency exits, fire alarms, or utility meters
  • Removed survey markers
  • Set off smoke bombs
  • Introduced viruses to a person’s or business’s computer
  • Slashed tires
  • Broke windows
  • Damaged property as a result of domestic violence

Criminal Mischief Penalties

The penalties faced for criminal mischief depend on the total value of the damaged or destroyed property. Additionally, if the crime involved a vehicle, the accused could have their driver’s license revoked or suspended.

The penalty structure for criminal mischief charges according to C.R.S. 18-4-501 is as follows:

  • Value of damage is less than $300: Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and $750 in fines.
  • Value of damage is between $300 and $750: Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison and $1,000 in fines.
  • Value of damage is between $750 and $1,000: Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 1.5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
  • Value of damage is between $1,000 and $5,000: Class 6 felony punishable by up to 1.5 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.
  • Value of damage is between $5,000 and $20,000: Class 5 felony punishable by up 3 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.
  • Value of damage is between $20,000 and $100,000: Class 4 felony punishable by up to 6 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.
  • Value of damage is between $100,000 and $1,000,000: Class 3 felony punishable by up to 12 years in prison and $750,000 in fines.
  • Value of damage is $1,000,000 or more: Class 2 felony punishable by up to 24 years in prison and $1,000,000 in fines.

It is possible for someone charged with criminal mischief to get probation. The likelihood of this depends on the circumstances of the crime. If you’ve been sentenced to jail time as a result of criminal mischief charges, consult with a criminal defense lawyer to find out if you may be eligible for probation.

Criminal Mischief Defenses

Depending on the circumstances of the charges, there are varying approaches a criminal defense lawyer can take to help you achieve a positive outcome. Some common defenses used in criminal mischief cases include:

  • Mistaken identity: In many cases, the property owner never sees the person who committed the crime, or they may have only seen the culprit as they were running away. If you matched the description of the culprit and were in the area at the time of the crime, you could face charges even though you aren’t guilty. There have also been cases in which people were charged with criminal mischief because of a personal vendetta the property owner had against them.
  • Insanity or impaired mental state: Perhaps your state of mind was altered when you committed the crime. Things like trauma, emotional anguish, and PTSD can cause people to do things they wouldn’t normally do.
  • Self-defense: It is technically possible to commit criminal mischief if you are acting in self-defense. If for example you are assaulted, your only defense may be to throw something at your attacker. While you may break or damage property in this process, you did so to protect yourself and should not be charged with criminal mischief.
  • Exaggerated damages: The prosecuting attorney in your case wants to see you receive the highest charge possible. In an attempt to accomplish this, they may use inflated figures to say that you caused more damage than you did. Criminal defense attorneys are skilled at collecting accurate evidence that shows the true value of damage, which could save you from facing a higher charge than necessary.
  • Choice of evils: This defense may be more relevant to minors than adults. For instance, if a teenager is being pressured to commit a crime, and has a choice between breaking and entering or vandalizing someone’s property, they may choose vandalism. While this would be criminal mischief, a criminal defense lawyer could argue that the teen was making the best decision they could based on the circumstances.
  • Wrongful imprisonment: Often seen in domestic violence cases, if the victim is being held against their will, they may have no choice but to damage property in order to escape or reach safety.
  • Involuntary intoxication: This is another situation that arises out of peer pressure, whether it be in children or adults. If you are threatened to the point where you are forced to become intoxicated, you shouldn’t be punished for your actions while impaired.

Colorado Criminal Mischief Lawyers

Criminal mischief charges are not to be taken lightly. Not only can they send you prison and cost you thousands of dollars in fines, but they can ruin your personal and professional life forever.

If you’ve been accused of criminal mischief, do not wait to speak to a criminal defense lawyer. At Wolf Law LLC, we use our experience to defend your rights and see to it that you get a fair trial. Schedule your free consultation to speak with a criminal defense attorney by calling 720-479-8574 or contact us online.

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Deferred Sentence, Sealed Record For Pot Possession

In July of 2009 I was charged with possession of marijuana. I contacted Jeff with Wolf Law and worked with him to find my best options. Jeff was very knowledgeable, honest and professional. He worked quickly and effectively to get me a deferred sentence and ultimately seal the record of this infraction. I also had a prior charge that was many years old that was also a deferred sentence. Jeff worked to seal that record in order help maintain my privacy. I now have used this ability to change my field of work and pass a background check with no infractions visible on my record. My life is moving onward and upward due to the help that was provided by Wolf Law. Thank You Jeff!

— John

A Great Help in a Time of Turbulence

After being convicted of a DUI for marijuana, I quickly searched for an attorney. I chose to contact Wolf Law first because of the certifications and positive reviews that I saw. I am very glad that I made this choice. This was my first time in trouble with the law, so I didn’t quite know how to handle the situation, but with just a few meetings, phone calls, and emails I felt confident towards the resolution of my issues. Jeff explained everything thoroughly and made sure I knew everything I needed to know and more. I personally needed only a few meetings and talks, but I know that Jeff would be glad to meet or talk as much as necessary. He is clearly very passionate about his work and is a well of legal knowledge. I began with several charges and seeing an overwhelmingly bad outcome in my future, but as Jeff and Wolf Law fought for me, the charges faded away until only one remained and even it was reduced. I left with what I view as the best possible outcome for my given situation. Wolf Law not only helped mitigate the consequences of my mistake, but also granted me great comfort and guidance through the whole experience.

— Bryan C.

I Had a Great Outcome in My Case

Jeff Wolf was recommended to me by a colleague I have known since my youth. Accordingly, I met with Jeff. I also met with other attorneys in the Denver area in preparation for my legal issues. I decided to choose Jeff because I had a good feeling about him from the moment I met him and because his ethics and views regarding the vision for his legal practice were aligned with what I hoped for despite having no experience in the legal system previously.

This decision turned out to be one of the the best I have made in my life…literally. I cannot adequately express here how much Jeff’s hard work, determination, knowledge, professionalism, experience, and clear understanding of what I am certain he has a passion for (helping others beyond just being an attorney and defending clients in court) has meant for me. I think he has exceptional skills. I had a great outcome in my case due to the defense Jeff provided in court.

More importantly however, Jeff helped me manage the emotional and professional stress I felt. Jeff reassured me when I most needed reassurance, and ultimately, transform a situation I initially felt was a life changing event into a learning experience that I was able to navigate successfully through his precise and comprehensive guidance. I would recommend Jeff to any member of my family and certainly to anyone to whom his services would apply.

— C. Jackson

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I am very pleased with the outcome of my court case. Colleen Kelley kept me informed on the various process and was successful in removing my name from sex offender registry. I highly recommend Colleen Kelley if you need a lawyer.

— - Anonymous

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Unfortunately, I have required an attorney more than a few times. That said, Jeff is the most intelligent, competent, compassionate, committed, aggressive representation to be found, without a doubt. Facing a felony DUI, no proof of insurance, careless driving and cruelty to animals (my dog gets more love than most people in the world), followed by two DURs (driving under revocation), I pretty much felt I was screwed. After hiring and firing two attorneys, I called Jeff. Note: Do your research before you waste money, and do whatever it takes to get the money for proper representation. I met with Jeff based on his peer reviews, client reviews, education and experience; all of them positive and 100 percent accurate. Twenty minutes into the consultation, all my built-up stress and anxiety had been significantly reduced. I thought my driving privileges were over for a while. Jeff showed me what I needed to do to get a restricted license, which I was able to do within a few days. Following that he made two DURs, jail time offenses, turn into one zero-point traffic violation. Then, one year to the date of my run-in with the law, Jeff and I went to trial. The no insurance charge was dropped. I was insured. The cruelty to animals charge was dropped after the first day of trial. On the second day, I was found not guilty of DUI, DWAI and careless driving. The time, effort and determination Jeff put in was clear, and his strategies and trial skills were clearly superb. No better counsel can be found in my opinion.

— Patrick

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I have been an attorney for 18 years. I have seen Jeff Wolf in court handle a large variety of criminal defense and protection order matters with the highest degree of professionalism and effectiveness. Jeff is not only intelligent and incredibly timely and efficient, but also carries a wide scope of wisdom and experience; there is nothing he has not seen.

I know if I refer friends or clients to him, they will be in strong capable hands with an attorney who truly cares and is a great advisor. I have also seen Colleen Kelley in major felony hearings in court and she is a force to be reckoned with.

When I needed an attorney for my own legal situation, I retained Jeff and his firm. I witnessed first-hand how competent and reassuring Jeff and Collen are as attorneys and counselors, but from the perspective of a client. Superb attorneys, but also the best people. When I am unable to accept a criminal case, I often refer the potential client to the Wolf Law LLC.

— Anon, Esq.

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I would like to place on record the immense appreciation for Ms Colleen Kelly, Partner at Wolf Law LCC. I had an opportunity as a Solicitor to interact with her on behalf of one of my clients in a DV Matter. Her professionalism and knowledge of law is absolutely outstanding. She is extremely honest and straightforward in her legal advice. She always keeps the interest of the client a priority and safe guards the interest of the client at all times. She is an asset to the legal team and adds value with her expertise and knowledge.

— Nirvikar Singh, Advocate Supreme Court of India

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Jeff provided excellent legal advice and guided my situation to a very desirable outcome. He was in frequent contact via phone and email throughout the process, answered all of the questions that I had, and gave me the ability to confidently choose the best outcome for my circumstances. Legal issues are scary, complicated, and stressful but Jeff reduces all those negatives and makes you feel like someone has your back. Would highly recommend his services if you ever find yourself in need of criminal defense.

— Max I.

Highly Recommended

First of all, I would like to thank Colleen Kelley and all the staff at Wolf Law for helping me greatly with my legal matters. I called and was able to get consulted that same day, and the prices are very manageable. Colleen did an awesome job and took her time reviewing all the evidence and negotiating with the DA. In my first case she was able to get the charges completely dismissed, which was very impressive. I had a second case where she got me a deferred judgment deal, which was great considering the charges pending. I am very pleased with her efforts and time spent working on my case. Again, I would highly recommend Wolf Law, giving them 5/5 stars!

— Michael

Sensitive Criminal Matter

At first I was unsure, working with attorneys can be so stressful and difficult to gauge if they can help you effectively. I used this firm for two different cases and I was glad that they were reasonable and didn’t tell me falsehoods. Straight to the point and don’t promise you rainbows and butterflies. That is what you want: a straight up lawyer who doesn’t give you nonsense. Be patient, they will help you and you can feel like they forgot; but that’s just how this stuff goes. Court cases take time and they have many clients, its nothing personal. When we went to court everything was laid out for me to understand and I think they prepared for each task. Each case was handled professionally and they answered all my questions. Thank you, Cassandra and Colleen

— Anonymous