• 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

Hire A Lawyer You Can Relate To and Trust

I happened to find Jeff through a Google search for a DUI lawyer and I would have to say I really lucked out. I had heard horror stories about attorneys that overcharged their clients and that they would send others to represent them in court. From the initial phone call he helped me understand the process and prepared me for what was ahead. Having never needed a lawyer he was patient and made sure I understood everything before making any decisions. Jeff always made me feel like I was on the same level as him which I really appreciated. Jeff always prepared me for the worst, but in the end with his hard work and suggestions beforehand he managed to get me a pretty good deal. The best advice I could give is to be informed and START EVERYTHING right away. I would also say to hire a lawyer that you can relate to and that you trust. Don’t waste your money on someone that isn’t going to give you the personal attention you deserve. I would gladly recommend Jeff Wolf! He is down to earth and I never felt judged. He gave it to me straight and without hiring him I don’t know where I’d be. Thanks Jeff!

— Issac

Highly Recommend Wolf Law for DUI Cases

I hired Jeff Wolf to represent me for a DUI and accident involving damages. While I knew I was 100 percent in the wrong, Jeff never once made me feel like a terrible person for making a mistake. He quickly responded to emails and always called me back quickly when I had questions (I had a lot of questions). I’ve never been in trouble with the law before, and Jeff was patient in explaining everything thoroughly to me throughout the entire process, and was also able to get my sentence reduced. I recommend him to anyone going through a similar situation.

— Emily

Complete Satisfaction

Jeff took on 2 cases for me with complete success. He is extremely sharp and confident. Jeff really gets to know his clients and is very sympathetic to their needs.
The relationships he has with prosecutors and the judges was pure respect. When he spoke he had the ears of the courtroom. He speaks very eloquent and exudes confidence that translates into the result I was looking for, “Case Dismissed.”

I highly recommend his services. If you are need of his services you will get more than what you pay for.

— Steven L.

Professional, Thorough and Successful

Jeff handled my case with expertise and professionalism. He examined my case quickly and accurately then presented me with sound options and advice going forward. Very satisfied with the almost immediate responses to phone calls and emails. Pleased with the outcome Jeff was able to provide in my case.

— Charlie G.

Wolf Fought Hard and I Owe Him for All He Did

I am writing this letter to show how much I appreciate Mr. Jeff Wolf for representing me in my DUI case. When I first visited Mr. Wolf I had all these questions of what is going to happen in the case and to myself. I did have a prior DUI in another state so this was new to me.

I received my DUI in April and finished my court in September. During this time Mr. Wolf had an open door policy if you wanted to visit or maybe answer any questions that I may have had. His personal attention to my case made me feel at ease at all my court appearances.

Mr. Wolf guided me through all the steps that were taking place around my case and all his advice paid off when the day came for my sentencing. Actually, the judge was impressed with all the steps I was doing to remedy my terrible mistake. Mr. Wolf fought hard for me and I owe him for all that he did for my family and myself. I can honestly say that I have found a gentleman that I would recommend to another or help my family with any issues.

— Brian G.

Jeff Helped Me Feel Safe Again

I would highly recommend attorney Jeffrey Wolf. He consistently demonstrates knowledge and professionalism, both in and out of the courtroom. His expertise helped me to understand the legal process. As a victim of domestic violence, I looked to Mr. Wolf to assist me in obtaining a restraining order. His compassion combined with skill helped me to feel safe again.  I reached a positive outcome in my case and felt informed, confident, and cared for with Mr. Wolf in my corner.

— Karen

Jeff Wolf Cares About You as a Person

Jeff Wolf is extremely timely, reliable, and efficient. He cares about you as more than just another case, he cares about you as a person. Jeff worked with me on my out-of-state case and went above and beyond to ensure that I received the best possible outcome.

— Anonymous

Wolf Law and Colleen Kelley are Great

Had the chance to work with Colleen Kelley and found her not only to be a great attorney, but also someone who will fight for you! Highly recommend her…

— Tom S.

Outstanding Law Firm

Wolf Law was very helpful in fulfilling my personal needs. Colleen Kelley knew how to approach my case and made me feel better about my results in the bargain. I would recommend her to anyone with criminal trouble; she is an amazing lawyer.

— Levi

Wow

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