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What are the penalties for graffiti in Colorado?

Painting graffiti on a property that isn’t yours is a crime – not matter how great it looks. If someone doesn’t appreciate your artwork and catches you, there could be a price to pay. Unfortunately, this price is typically high.

Alexandra Natapoff’s book Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps The Innocent And Makes American More Unequal outlines various ways the U.S. criminal justice system financially hurts citizens.

Specifically, graffiti charges can come with several fines and court costs. If someone misses a payment deadline, more fees pile up: late fees, license suspension fees, reinstatement fees and more. These can all add up quick and lead someone to file bankruptcy.

Colorado’s graffiti penalties

In Colorado, “criminal mischief” is when someone purposefully damages “the real or personal property” of someone else. This includes graffiti.

The type of charge and penalties depend on the value of the damaged property:

  • Damaging property worth less than $300 is a class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and fines up to $750
  • Damaging property worth $300 to $750 is a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and fines up to $1,000
  • Damaging property worth $750 to $1,000 is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to a year and a half in jail and fines up to $5,000
  • Damaging property worth $1,000 to $5,000 is a class 6 felony punishable by up to a year and a half in jail and fines up to $100,000
  • Damaging property worth $5,000 to $20,000 is a class 5 felony punishable by up to three years in jail and fines up to $100,000
  • Damaging property worth $20,000 to $100,000 is a class 4 felony punishable by up to six years in jail and fines up to $500,000
  • Damaging property worth $100,000 to $1,000,000 is a class 3 felony punishable by up to 12 years in jail and fines up to $750,000
  • Damaging property worth over $1,000,000 is a class 2 felony punishable by up to 24 years in jail and fines up to $1,000,000

If you are facing a criminal mischief charge for graffiti or other property damage, a criminal defense could be the difference between fines that are payable or fines that your bank account can’t support.

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