Criminal Mischief and Property Damage in Colorado

Criminal Mischief Involves Damage to the Property of Others

Colorado's criminal mischief statutes deal with damage to the property of someone else. This crime is found at C.R.S. 18-4-501, and the severity of the offense charged is very similar to Colorado's theft statute. The value of the item damaged determines the class of misdemeanor or felony:

  • For items valued under $500, it is a Class 2 misdemeanor
  • For items valued from $500 to $1,000, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor
  • For items valued from $1,000 to $20,000, it is a Class 4 felony
  • For items valued from $20,000 and up, it is a Class 3 felony

The property value classes stated above are the aggregate or sum of all property damaged in the course of a single criminal episode. If several things belonging to an alleged victim are damaged, the government will add the value of all of the damaged items and charge as seriously as possible. In an effort to charge a defendant as harshly as possible, the police often use the value of the item when it was new to determine what class of crime to charge. So, for example, if a TV cost $1,200 five years ago and can now be replaced for $800, the defendant will still be charged with a felony despite the replacement value of the item being in the misdemeanor range. Our lawyers frequently argue to judges, district attorneys and juries that an item's true value is much less than charged. We are able to get charges reduced to the correct dollar amount in most cases.

Jointly Owned Property

Criminal mischief charges in Denver, Douglas, Arapahoe, Adams and Jefferson counties often arise in pranks, vandalism and domestic violence cases. In domestic violence cases, property belonging to the person charged is still subject to this offense if the alleged victim says the property belonged to him or her in addition to the defendant. Under C.R.S. 18-4-501, this joint property ownership will allow the police to prosecute someone for damaging his or her own property. This crime will support a domestic violence charge label as well, even if the "significant other" is not present when the property damage occurred.

As mentioned above, this crime is very similar to Colorado's theft statute. The penalties are almost identical. In one case, the property is completely taken (theft). In another, it is simply damaged (criminal mischief). In both instances, the reality is that the property owner has lost either the use of an item entirely or a portion of its value.

We have represented good people like you in many criminal mischief cases. We fight for our clients to get their cases dismissed, for restitution that is fair and for the whole story of what happened to be told. We guard your employment and freedom. We look forward to meeting you during a free initial consultation at our office. If you are contacted by police concerning property damage to someone else's property or even your own, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent and call our full-time criminal defense attorneys at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.

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