Criminal Mischief

Criminal mischief is a charge that deals with property damage. Colorado has the following definition[1]:

“A person commits criminal mischief when he or she knowingly damages the real or personal property of one or more other persons, including property owned by the person jointly with another person or property owned by the person in which another person has a possessory or proprietary interest, in the course of a single criminal episode.”

To convict you of criminal mischief, the District Attorney must prove that you knowingly damaged property. If the District Attorney cannot prove either that 1) property was damaged or 2) you damaged the property knowingly, then you are not guilty. The District Attorney must also prove the value of the property that is damaged. That is because the severity of the charge (and penalties) changes depending on the value[2]:

Amount of Property Damage Degree of Charge Presumptive Sentencing Range
< $300 3rd Degree Misdemeanor 0-6 months’ imprisonment and/or $50-$750 fine
$300-$749 2nd Degree Misdemeanor 3-12 months’ imprisonment and/or $250-$2,000 fine
$750-$999 1st Degree Misdemeanor 6-18 months’ imprisonment and/or $500-$5,000 fine
$1,000-$4,999 Class 6 Felony 12-18 months’ imprisonment and/or $1,000-$100,000 fine
$5,000-$19,999 Class 5 Felony 1-3 years’ imprisonment and/or $1,000-$100,000 fine
$20,000-$99,999 Class 4 Felony 2-6 years’ imprisonment and/or $2,000-$500,000 fine
$100,000-$999,999 Class 3 Felony 4-12 years’ imprisonment and/or $3,000-$750,000 fine
$1 million or more Class 2 Felony 8-24 years’ imprisonment and/or $5,000-$1 million fine

The court, however, can sentence you to an alternative instead of jail, like in-home detention or work release, or it can suspend jail or alternative sentences in favor of probation.

Criminal mischief has a huge range of potential consequences. The District Attorney may believe that the value of the property damage is greater than it really is, which can have dangerous implications in terms of the punishment you may be facing. Ultimately, if you are charged with criminal mischief you are looking at jail time and serious fines. But defenses may be available to you. CGH lawyers have handled a variety of criminal mischief cases and have successfully obtained complete dismissal of charges, allowing our clients to seal their records. If you’ve been charged with criminal mischief in Colorado, call us today for a free consultation.

[1] C.R.S. § 18-4-501(1)

[2] C.R.S. §18-4-501(4), 18-1.3-501, 18-1.3-401