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Criminal Mischief

If you or a loved one has been charged with criminal mischief, you may be confused about the charge of criminal mischief. Fortunately, while criminal mischief is ambiguous, it does have specific meaning under Texas law.

Criminal mischief may also be known as vandalism, malicious destruction of property, graffiti, and other kinds of damage to buildings and property.

Depending on the severity of the damages involved, criminal mischief is a charge that ranges from a misdemeanor offense to a first-degree felony.

When you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, it is important to consult with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. If you or your loved one has been charged with criminal mischief in Houston or the surrounding area, Leeds Law Firm’s criminal defense team can help.

What Qualifies as Criminal Mischief?

The first requirement of a criminal mischief charge is that the vandalism or destruction of property must occur without the knowledge or consent of the property owner.

In addition, criminal mischief is actions that are knowingly or intentionally undertaken to damage the property. Criminal mischief includes intentionally tampering with tangible property in a way that causes that property to be damaged.

Vandalism, like graffiti, is also covered under criminal mischief, even if it does not damage the long-term value of the property in question after cleaning. So, a building’s owner may be able to press criminal mischief charges, even if they were able to completely remove the graffiti.

What Qualifies as Tangible Property

To understand criminal mischief, it’s also important to understand what counts as tangible property under the law. The property included has been expanded under Texas law to help cover items and property that were not originally included.

Tangible property now includes livestock like cattle, horses, llamas, and other animals. It also includes the fences or barriers used to contain that livestock.

Tangible property also includes public infrastructure like flood prevention equipment, public communications equipment (cell phone towers, payphones, etc.), and public transit equipment like buses and trains. Utility buildings and equipment are also included.

Personal property like tools, vehicles, residences, landscaping, and garden decorations, are also included. That means that your personal property is protected under criminal mischief laws, and that criminal mischief charges can be brought for a wide range of offenses.

Penalties For Criminal Mischief

Because of the wide range of types of criminal mischief and the wide range of possible damage and repercussions resulting from criminal mischief, there are many different penalties.

Minor incidents of criminal mischief are often considered misdemeanors, but more serious cases may be charged as felonies. Criminal mischief can be a first-degree felony in severe cases.

That means that penalties range from small fines to jail time. In severe cases of criminal mischief, Judges also have the option of imposing a life sentence.

Contact Us

If you or one of your loved ones have been charged with criminal mischief, no matter how minor or severe the charge, it is important to contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. If you need a criminal defense lawyer in Houston, Leeds Law Firm has an experienced team of professionals who can help.

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