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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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Colorado Law had recently passed a law, that would help me in the messy situation I was in. I knew immediately I had to find a lawyer to discuss the situation and the circumstances surrounding the process, and eligibility requirements for my specific case. I have to admit, I was very nervous reaching out to any lawyers who could help me.

So I did my research to the best of my ability, and having questions to ask to confirm I was making the right choice in a lawyer. A friend of mine who had previously worked with Mr. Wolf, had strongly recommended that I contact him. I am very grateful that I had! He was very respectful, and had a obvious passion to help me, asking specific questions surrounding my situation so that we can both deal with the issue at hand. Talking me through the processes and possible outcomes, straight forward. No sugar coating, which is nice because I value honesty.

Throughout the whole process, I was comfortable, and very trusting, as questions were answered accurately and after I tried contacting him with new questions or comments, he would return my call or email within 24 Hours! That showed me that he cared and was on top of his workload.

Nonetheless, the outcome of my case worked really well for me, and was a success. And for that, I want to show my gratitude.

Thank You Mr. Wolf for being on my side! I strongly recommend to anyone looking for a well competent lawyer, to contact Jeffrey Wolf at Wolf Law!

— Erwin H.

Fantastic Attorney, Thorough and Knowledgeable

When I had charges pending against me, I had a free consultation with many attorneys and ultimately hired Jeff wolf as my formal representation. Most of the attorneys’ capabilities were relatively equal, but what stuck out with Jeff was his ethics and personal investment in my outcome.

From the beginning he tried to get a thorough sense of who I was in society and represent that to the judge for sentencing. In court he pleaded my case and balanced remorse for the action with any positive attributes to gain a favorable outcome. He is well spoken and respected in court.

I liked that his payment model worked through stages that he “earned” along the way. I had a clear understanding of what to expect from him, from the court, and the most likely requirements of my sentence. And when I didn’t understand or had additional questions on one part (and I had many) he took the time to explain and discuss the options and his recommendation with me.

He had a thorough knowledge of the system and its players as well as knowledge on unusual factors related to my specific case, and he made well-thought-out recommendations with reasoning but ultimately let me make the final decision.

The result of my case was quite favorable thanks to Jeff. Great lawyer, highly recommend.

— Pam

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When I walked into the office I was at a low point I can’t describe. When I talked to Jeffrey Wolf I wanted to hear, “Don’t worry, you’re going to be fine.” Instead I was told the honest truth: I was in serious trouble, but he would fight like crazy to get me the best possible outcome. After thinking about that I realized it was far better to hear the truth rather than a lawyer trying to get my business, and in the end I got exactly what Jeff said: Good advice, an excellent professional defense, and I believe the best possible outcome I could have wanted. I highly recommend Wolf Law.

— David R.

Professional and Honest

I was worried about looking for a lawyer because I have never done so before, but Jeff Wolf made it super easy for me and I couldn’t have been more happy with his services. He called me anytime something happened with my case or needed anything from me. He got me out of a 10 day jail sentence which really helped me since I started school this week. Honestly it was nothing but a professional and honest experience.

— Robert A.

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Jeff is very professional, knowledgeable, and as good of a lawyer as there is. I had a restraining order full of false allegations, and Jeff got everything dismissed. Even though it was a restraining order, Jeff treated my case as important as any other case. Thanks, Jeff!

— Anonymous

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I am glad that I was referred to Jeff. His capable counsel turned a really big mess into a straightforward procedure. All my contacts with the entire staff at Wolf Law were outstanding. Jeff was able to explain very complicated proceedings in a way that made sense and allowed me confidence that I was fully prepared. Jeff’s professionalism both inside and outside the courtroom was an immense help during a tough time. Legal troubles are very stressful, and it is important to have someone working for you with the experience and knowledge to be able to help. Jeff provided that and more: never feeling lost in the situation was an added benefit that was priceless. I would highly recommend the team at Wolf Law.

— John B.

Look No Further – Jeff is the Best

I was falsely accused of a crime with serious consequences, was very depressed and got even more depressed and frustrated as I was interviewing attorneys to defend me. They had a broad spectrum of approaches and some were ready to head to trial immediately as it seemed they were primarily interested in battles and my money rather than my best interests. The first one was extremely arrogant and rushed to get me off the phone. My court appearance date was approaching and I was ready to give up when I came across Jeffrey’s website. I read he had once also been falsely accused which motivated him to become an attorney. After further reading, his philosophy appealed to me so I set up a free session.

I met with Jeffrey and told him what happened. He explained the alleged crime and potential consequences and then spoke about himself and his approach. I spent more time than the “free time” allocated but was never rushed. He listened, believed me and was really genuine as I had not witnessed before with other attorneys.

By the time we finished talking, I felt respected and not disrespected as I found out with this accusation, you are guilty until proven innocent from most everyone’s perspective. I hired Jeff on the spot and when I left his office, I felt this big burden lifted off my shoulders as I knew I could trust him to do his best for me. I was finally able to sleep that night and after several weeks able to put this out of my mind as being the constant main focus.

If you are seeking a very knowledgeable, trustworthy, caring, honest and respectful attorney, Jeffrey fits the bill. He is a great listener and never rushed me even with a flat fee rate. He has a good rapport with the Court who also respectfully listens to him. He is well spoken in the courtroom. I have seen him in several cases reaching very good settlements for his clients. On my case, he provided me his opinion with his rationale as to how I should proceed but allowed me to then make a decision as to go to trial or take a plea bargain. He would fully support my decision either way. Jeff is very good in providing the pros and cons, risks, and potential scenarios that may play out. My case will be dismissed shortly and record sealed as a result of Jeff’s hard work, negotiations, poking holes in the accuser’s story pre-trial, and dedication to my satisfactory case resolution. If you want the best, look no further as you have found him. Thank you Jeff!

— David C.

Professional. Attentive. Experienced. Successful.

I was referred to Jeff by one of my friends who was recently represented by Wolf Law in his DUI case; I will be forever grateful for that recommendation. Jeff made this extremely stressful process feel much more manageable from start to finish. He was always responsive and highly communicative, even throughout my barrage of anxiety driven questioning. He was a maestro in the courtroom and was able to get me the absolute minimum penalties. He even got certain areas of my very unique case dismissed – saving me thousands of dollars in the process. While I hope I never have to, I will surely be recommending Wolf Law as DUI representation to any of my friends and family in the future.

— Anonymous

Colleen is one of the best!! Goes Above and Beyond

I had to use legal services regarding a personal matter and I contacted 3 other lawyers. Colleen was the only one who took time to understand the issue but only explain legally how it can be addressed.

Also, I was surprised when she got me the desired result but she kept moving forward to make sure I had material for a potential criminal case. It shows that she cares and understands legal strategies.

— Anonymous

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I wanted to take a moment and give a MASSIVE THANK YOU to Wolf Law (and Colleen Kelley specifically)!

I had contacted Wolf Law recently regarding a previous offense and legal registration questions. This was for Sex Offender De-registration for the State of Colorado. After taking the time to review my case, my information, etc. etc, Wolf Law was able to take my case.

Considering the amount of time and effort involved to be removed, I am extremely grateful for Colleen Kelly/Wolf Law’s assistance in the matter.

After almost a decade, I was removed from the registry, and can now put a long chapter of my life behind me.

I would give Wolf Law 50 stars out of 10 if I could.

Again, THANK YOU Wolf Law for all your assistance and help in this matter!

I would very very very much recommend Wolf Law for your legal needs and/or situations. Please take a moment to contact them if you need to!

— Anonymous