Criminal Mischief in Texas
In many of these cases it is difficult for the prosecutor to identify the person who committed the offense. This is particularly true when the person accused does not make any statements to law enforcement or denies committing the act. Other common defense are related to the attacking the sufficiency of the estimate of damages.
Criminal mischief cases are common in Bexas County. In fact, according to statistics released by the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, in 2013 there were 1,785 criminal mischief cases reported to the Patrol Services Division.
If you are accused of criminal mischief then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in San Antonio at Goldstein & Orr. Call today to discuss your case and the best defenses to the accusation.
Elements of Criminal Mischief
Under Texas Penal Code Section 28.03, the crime of criminal mischief includes the following elements:
- the person acted intentionally and knowingly;
- the person acted without the effective consent of the owner to:
- damage or destroy the tangible property of the owner;
- tampers with the tangible property of the owner and causes pecuniary loss; or
- substantial inconvenience to the owner or a third person; or
- makes markings, including inscriptions, slogans, drawings, or paintings, on the tangible property of the owner.
Penalties and punishments for criminal mischief generally depend on the amount of pecuniary loss including:
- Class C misdemeanor – if the amount of pecuniary loss is less than $50 or if the act causes substantial inconvenience to others;
- Class B misdemeanor – if the amount of pecuniary loss is $50 or more but less than $500;
- Class A misdemeanor – if the amount of pecuniary loss is $500 or more but less than $1,500;
- State Jail Felony – if the the amount of pecuniary loss is $1,500 or more but less than $20,000;
- Felony of the Third Degree – if the amount of the pecuniary loss is $20,000 or more but less than $100,000;
- Felony of the Second Degree – if the amount of pecuniary loss is $100,000 or more but less than $200,000; or
- Felony of the first degree – if the amount of pecuniary loss is $200,000 or more.
Enhanced Penalties for Criminal Mischief
The criminal mischief can also be charged as a Class A misdemeanor if the pecuniary loss is less than $1,500 but the actor caused in whole or in part the following:
- impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public gas or power supply, or other public service, or
- causes to be diverted or in any manner, including installation or removal of any device for any such purpose, any public communications or public gas or power supply; or
- the actor causes impairment or interruption of any public water supply, or
- causes to be diverted any public water supply, regardless of the amount of the pecuniary loss.
Criminal Mischief at a School
Under Texas Penal Code Section 28.03(h) criminal mischief is charged as a state jail felony if the amount of the pecuniary loss to real property or to tangible personal property is $1,500 or more but less than $20,000 and the damage or destruction is inflicted on a public or private elementary school, secondary school, or institution of higher education.
Additional, the criminal mischief can be charged as a state jail felony if 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 pecuniary loss to real property or to tangible personal property is less than $20,000.
Criminal mischief can be charged as a state jail felony if the amount of pecuniary 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; or if the property was a fence used for the production or containment of: (i) cattle, bison, horses, sheep, swine, goats, exotic livestock, or exotic poultry; or (ii) game animals as that term is defined by Section 63.001, Parks and Wildlife Code.
Finding a Criminal Mischief Attorney in San Antonio, Texas
If you are charged with criminal mischief for either a misdemeanor or felony offense, then contact a criminal defense attorney at Goldstein & Orr. We represent clients throughout San Antonio, Bexar County, and the State of Texas. Call today for a consultation to discuss your case.