Criminal mischief is the legal term for any property destruction under Texas law. It could be accidental damage after a hit and run. It could be deliberate damage, like keying a car. It could be the aftermath of a fight or a domestic dispute. It could even be a political act, like the defacement of public monuments.
These are only some of the possible different reasons you could be facing a criminal mischief charge, under Texas criminal law. You may be in court to answer to criminal mischief charges if the prosecution has reason to believe you did any of the following:
- Intentionally or knowingly damaged someone else’s property
- Intentionally or knowingly tampering with someone else’s property causing loss or substantial inconvenience, or
- Intentionally making marks, graffiti, inscriptions, or drawings on the property of another.
There are several classifications of criminal mischief depending on the circumstances of the offense and the value of damage done to the property.
Class C Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief
Your criminal mischief charge may be a Class C misdemeanor if the damage done is valued at less than $50 or causes a substantial inconvenience to others. Class C misdemeanors are punishable by a $500 fine.
Class B Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief
Punishable by up to 180 days in jail and fines reaching $2,000, your criminal mischief charge could be a Class B Misdemeanor if the damage done is valued at more than $50 but less than $500.
Class A Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief
You could be facing class A criminal mischief charges if the damage done is valued at more than $500 and less than $1,500, or if the criminal mischief act results in damage less than $1,500 and causes an impairment of interruption of public communications, public transportation, gas, or power or any other public service, or if the mischief causes any impairment or interruption of the public water supply.
Class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to 1 year in jail and fines of up to $4,000.
State Jail Felony – Criminal Mischief in Texas
The State Jail Felony classification is applied in cases where the criminal mischief damage is valued at:
- between $1,500 to $20,000,
- Less than $1,500 and the property is a habitation where damaged is done by fire or explosion, or
- Less than $1,500 and the property was a fence designed to keep livestock or game animals in.
State Jail Felonies are punishable by up to 180 days to 2 years in state jail and fines reaching $10,000.
Third Degree Felony Criminal Mischief
Your criminal mischief charge could be a 3rd-degree felony if the damage done is valued at $20,000 to $100,000. 3rd-degree felonies are punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and fines of $10,000.
Second Degree Felony Criminal Mischief
2nd-degree felony criminal mischief is applicable in cases where the damage is valued at $100,000 to $200,000. This offense is punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and fines of $10,000.
First Degree Felony Criminal Mischief
A criminal mischief charge could be classified as a 1st-degree felony if the value of damage done is more than $200,000. This offense carries a potential sentence of 5 to 99 years in prison and fines reaching $10,000.
Ref: Texas Penal Code §28.03