“Criminal mischief in Texas” Criminal mischief sounds like a crime for which the police can file charges at their discretion. Although the provision has certain ambiguities, Texas Penal Code 28.03 does not define it so broadly. Instead, it refers to what some other jurisdictions classify as vandalism or purposeful property destruction, including what the average person would refer to as graffiti.
Criminal mischief is a legal offense in Texas. Before categorizing stages of the mischief into increasingly severe penalties, Texas Penal Code 28.03 first defines it generically. The Texas Penal Code 28.03 is a lengthy statute. In Texas, there are multiple degrees of criminal mischief, ranging from the lowest misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. This post examines a handful of the numerous behaviors that collectively make up criminal mischief. Additionally, each of these offenses has potential repercussions upon conviction.
What does criminal mischief actually mean?
A good query. Numerous offenses in our state fall under the category of criminal mischief. Even more perplexing is the fact that the crimes that come under this category can vary widely and have severe punishments.
The year set numerous records. A pandemic wreaked havoc on the planet, and political upheaval and protests sowed discord and hatred. It can be tempting to get a little carried away — on both sides — with the excitement that comes with the protests that are springing up all around the country.
On the other hand, police personnel with a siege mentality may have moved too rapidly and used excessive force to disperse demonstrators, sometimes rounding up large groups of people at once.
The individuals detained in Texas when this occurs typically face crime mischief charges.
Punishment for crime mischief
The lengthy statute is just mentioned above with its basic definition. The Texas Penal Code 28.03 then divides the felony into levels, each carrying a harsher penalty. With a few exceptions, Texas Penal Code Section 28.03 classifies crime mischief into the following offense-level classifications:
- A Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to $600 in fines but no jail time if the loss is less than $200 or the crime substantially injures others;
- A third-degree felony punishable by two to ten years in prison and up to an $11,000 fine if the loss is $35,000 or more but less than $160,000, or the defendant kills or damages communications equipment by any means other than everyday agricultural practices or military duties;
- A second-degree felony punishable by two to twenty years in jail and a maximum punishment of $11,000 if the loss is $160,000 or more but less than $400,000; and
- A first-degree felony is punishable by five to ninety-nine years in prison, up to life in prison, and a $10,000 fine if the loss exceeds $300,000, or if the property is livestock and the introduction of mad cow disease causes the damage.
But what if a vandal breaks into many pieces of property with various values all at once? The criminal-mischief statute allows prosecutors to tally up any property damages, boosting the crime’s level of punishment. A charge may include property-loss values if the criminal mischief is conducted as part of a single plot or a continuous course of action. In that case, inflicting damage to, destroying, or defacing a number of low-value properties can result in a criminal charge. The Texas legislature opposes rampaging vandals.
Texas Defenses Against Criminal Mischief
The mere fact that you or someone you know is accused of doing criminal mischief does not guarantee a conviction. Each aspect of the criminal-mischief indictment might not be supported by sufficient evidence.
Here is a good illustration. According to Texas Penal Code 28.03(a), the defendant must have meant to damage or destroy another person’s property without that person’s consent. Many situations can cause someone to think they are just affecting their own property or the property of someone they have permission to affect. Factual questions regarding purpose and knowledge are inevitably within the defendant’s own power and influence in a disagreement over their own state of mind.
Only the accused is aware of their own thinking in some ways. Criminal mischief is not committed by someone who feels they are only causing damage to their property. When they genuinely cause damage to another person’s property. If there are factual differences regarding knowledge and purpose, a prosecution’s ability to show the guilty state-of-mind requirement beyond a reasonable doubt may be substantially questioned.
Criminal mischief has a number of defenses available under Texas law. Criminal mischief is an intentional offense.
A criminal mischief convictions effects
Criminal mischief has the same risk of harsh ramifications as any other criminal conviction. The name of the offense, criminal mischief, implies things that no self-respecting person would want others to know about. The punishment for the offense is the first step in a criminal conviction’s aftereffects. It may result in significant jail time or possibly a prison sentence in addition to the severe penalties previously mentioned.
However, criminal convictions have employment ramifications, whether for criminal mischief or other offenses. Many companies may fire or reject the offender due to his criminal mischief conviction’s dishonesty and property-destruction components. Violent crimes and dishonesty disqualify applicants from numerous security and safety-related jobs, which are widely available in the workforce. Probation and punishment conditions may also impose travel limitations. Convictions for violent or deceptive crimes can have ramifications for parental rights, child custody, and other familial and social ties.