• Speak with An Experienced Defense Attorney Today
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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.

Featured Blogs
  • Answers to 6 Common DUI Questions
  • Assault or Self-Defense?
  • happy hour to sober
  • breathalizer thumbnail
  • 4/20 safety
  • domestic violence cases
Certifications
Testimonials

Case Dismissed

I met with a probation violation complaint for a DUI in Summit County. I live outside of Colorado, in Boston. I felt hopeless. I felt like my only option was to travel out to Colorado, give myself up and just see what happened. That would have meant jail and thus loss of job and loss of house.

I called Jeff and talked to him about my case. His experience in this area put me at ease. Jeff guided me through everything I needed to do to see this case through. The greatest thing is that I never had to leave home to clear this up. At the end of the day Jeff cleared my case (Case Dismissed) without me ever leaving Boston. Jeff is incredible, and his team is equally amazing.

I can’t thank Wolf Law enough for what they have done for me. I have a new outlook on life thanks to Jeff.

— Matt P.

Wonderful Experience with Colleen Kelley

I recently had the pleasure of becoming Colleen Kelley’s client. Even despite the terrible circumstances of fighting wrongful criminal charges, Colleen provided a supportive and pleasant experience during this process. Thankfully, I was introduced to Colleen through another attorney. She took my case on short notice and started working on my behalf in less than 24 hours by showing up to court the day after I secured her services.

She was diligent in her research, communication, and pursuit of justice. In just three short months, my case was dismissed. During this three-month nightmare, Colleen provided clarity and assurance along the way. While Colleen was very thorough in regards to every possible outcome I might experience, her professionalism and devotion to this case made it clear that the outcomes would be outstanding from day one. I’m so thankful that I found Colleen to represent me. I would highly recommend her services.

— Dawn R.

Good Outcome

Mr. Wolf offered excellent service, fast responses and prompt communication. I was so relieved that he was willing and able to take my case. He and his team are very professional and got me the best possible outcome.

— Brian

APPRECIATION

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

Representation by Jeff Wolf

Counselor Wolf was very professional, and each time we met to discuss my case he was patient and explained what we could expect and what might happen through each step in my proceedings. Counselor Wolf presented himself as very knowledgeable, confident and professional throughout our dealings in this matter. Thank you Jeff, I appreciate your attention to detail and adept representation.

— Jack O.

Incredible!

I was extremely fortunate to have Jeff as my lawyer during a difficult time. He made sure I was taken care of and fought for what he knew was right on my behalf. My experience working with Jeff was nothing but great as he helped me get through my case. He is extremely knowledgeable, kind, and is willing to help out with a smile on his face. Jeff is an AMAZING lawyer and I cannot thank him enough for all the hard work he has done! Thank you Jeff!

— Summer

Jeff is a Powerhouse in the Courtroom

Jeff is truly an expert in his field. He is extremely knowledgeable and bright and it was clear throughout his management of my case that he is highly respected. He was very supportive of my desire to see my case through to trial, he was always empathetic, and he took the time to understand my personal and professional situation. He was determined to get me the best outcome with the least impact to my personal and professional life and he succeeded. We were dealing with a refusal and I have little doubt that I would not have had the same results with another attorney. Jeff is a powerhouse in the courtroom! I am beyond appreciative and would strongly recommend anyone facing challenging legal issues to seek out Jeff’s expertise.

— Jana S.

So Glad I Hired Jeff Wolf for My DUI Case

I was originally considering not hiring an attorney since this was my first DUI offense but I’m definitely glad I did. It was my first DUI but I was involved in a one-car accident and totaled my car. I started to worry about the possible consequences after reading the penalties online. I contacted Jeff’s office after reading reviews on AVVO left by other clients. From the beginning he was very straightforward regarding possible penalties and possible outcomes, and gave me the details of what he would do if I hired him.

We worked out what strategies we would use for the DMV and Court. Without going into too much detail, I have to say that I was extremely happy that I decided to hire Jeff. Immediately after hiring him I felt a lot less stress about the whole situation. He was always in contact with me every step of the process and even did things for me that I didn’t have to do myself, like my DMV hearing.

Every DUI case is different based on many different circumstances, so I can’t say that my results will be yours, however I was extremely happy with my results. He won my DMV hearing, and I didn’t lose my license and got pretty much the minimum penalties in court. Overall, I would recommend him to any family or friends who find themselves in the same situation. I have several friends who had similar situations who couldn’t believe how lucky I was to get the outcome that I did. Thank you for everything Jeff!

— Daniel G.

Winning the Case

Colleen Kelley came through for me when I thought all else was lost. Colleen worked diligently and kept up the fight; she was able to get the job done, and I’m so appreciative for her work.

— Randy J.

A Great Lawyer

Colleen was a great lawyer and made everything easily understandable.

— Juan