Generally, Criminal Mischief involves damaging another person’s property. The criminal mischief statute, C.R.S. 18-4-501, requires that the person who damaged the property have a “knowing” mental state. In Adams, Jefferson, and Denver County, these charges are often in the context of domestic violence, meaning that the people involved had an intimate relationship. In cases where criminal mischief is alleged to be part of an act of domestic violence, the consequences can be very severe including a battery of costly domestic violence classes.
Felony and Misdemeanor Classification of Criminal Mischief
Similar to the crime of theft, this crime is classified based on the amount of damage.
•· $500 or less = Misdemeanor 2
•· Between $500 -$1000 = Misdemeanor 1
•· Between $1000 – $20,000 = Felony 4
•· $20,000 or greater = Felony 3
It is not a defense to the charge that the accused and victim co-owned the damaged property. It is still considered a crime against the victim.
How Value of Property is Determined in Criminal Cases
The other issue with criminal mischief is that prosecutors rely on the victim to value the item damaged. For example, I had a case where my client’s wife cheated on him and he was so upset that he destroyed a fur coat that he had purchased for her right after they were married. The victim claimed the coat was worth $8,000.00 so my client was charged with a felony. However, the coat was in terrible condition and was nearly 15years old when the defendant damaged it. As a result, the charges were lowered based on the information we sought from an expert.
Other cases may involve limited damage to property. In those circumstances, the prosecutor is supposed to use the cost of repair as the basis for the charge, but they often mistakenly charge based on the value of the item and not the repair cost. An experienced attorney can address any issues of valuation as part of the defense to the charged conduct.
Individuals charged with criminal mischief in Arapahoe, Broomfield and Boulder County face serious repercussions regardless of the classification of the offense because the crime implies that the person may be a domestic abuser. Such a finding may disqualify people from owing a firearm, from employment opportunities, and renting suitable housing. Only an experienced attorney can identify possible defenses and work to protect your criminal history.
If you or a loved one are charged with criminal mischief, consult an experience attorney. We have spent years defending the accused against criminal mischief cases across Colorado. So, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and call us today at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.