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The fundamentals of a Colorado criminal mischief charge

On Behalf of | Jul 6, 2020 | Theft and Economic Crimes |

Smashing a car window out of anger. Defacing a business by spraying graffiti across its entrance. Starting a fire that destroys a homeowner’s property. Slashing the tires of a municipal or school bus.

As varied as all those acts are, isn’t there something fundamentally similar about them?

Law enforcers in Colorado think so, uniformly categorizing such behaviors as acts of “criminal mischief.” An individual facing a criminal mischief charge can face potentially severe penalties.

What centrally defines a Colorado criminal mischief charge?

The key term/element surrounding criminal mischief is “intention.” Alternatively, that can translate as knowledge, the bottom line being this: A criminal mischief charge can apply to any behavior causing damage to another person’s property that an actor might reasonably anticipate.

A window accidentally broken does not qualify as criminal mischief. Conversely, it likely does if damage results from a series of rocks being systematically launched toward a neighbor’s house.

What are the penalties tied to a criminal mischief charge?

An initial point to note regarding a Colorado criminal mischief case concerns variance. As noted in one in-depth online overview of the topic, a judicial outcome can range broadly between “a small fine and several years in prison.”

The key determinant of that will rest upon the estimated worth of destroyed or otherwise damaged property. Colorado statutory law directly link penalties to value.

Property diminution of less than $300, for example, is a lower-level misdemeanor offense that might in some instances yield a relatively slight exaction. Conversely, criminal mischief might also be pegged as a felony, which can result in a lengthy prison term and a notably punitive fine.

One or more defenses might be raised against a criminal mischief charge in a given case, with there often being room for proven attorneys to craft strategies seeking material mitigation.

An experienced legal team can provide further information.