Responding To Criminal Mischief Charges In Texas

Law enforcement in Denton recently arrested two murder suspects in connection with a deadly beating that occurred in a local restaurant’s parking lot. The arrest occurred because law enforcement responded to a criminal mischief call. Both suspects were charged with murder and released from the Denton City Jail after bonds of $100,000 bail were posted. This case is just one example of how criminal mischief is prosecuted in the state of Texas.

The Elements of a Criminal Mischief Charge in Texas

Texas law (Penal Code 28.03) defines criminal mischief as occurring without the consent of the property owner when a person intentionally or knowingly damages or destroys the property of another.

Common Types of Criminal Mischief

There are several ways in which criminal mischief charges are commonly prosecuted. Some of the most common ways in which criminal mischief is prosecuted in the state of Texas include the following:

  • Damaging a home: This category includes any type of damage to a person’s home including pulling out plumbing fixtures, spray painting belongings, and tearing down walls.
  • Damaging a motor vehicle: This category includes activities like breaking a headlamp, breaking a car’s windows, filling a gas tank with sugar or water, and keying a car’s paint.
  • Damaging a place of business: This category includes breaking a door, fixture, window, or any other structure in a place of business.
  • Destruction of private or public property: This category often includes breaking fixed structures, breaking windows, and spray painting walls.
  • Damaging a school. This category includes causing toilets to overflow, destroying books, or writing on desks, lockers, or walls.

Damage of Property

The amount of any property that is destroyed as the result of criminal mischief influences the penalty that a person eventually faces. If the property is destroyed, the loss is calculated based on either the fair market value of the property at the time and place of destruction, or if the fair market value of the property cannot be determined, then the cost of replacing the property within a reasonable time after the destructive activity. In many criminal mischief cases, prosecution will establish the amount of the loss through the owner’s testimony. Simply using non-expert testimony about the value of the property that was destroyed is not sufficient.

Defenses to Criminal Mischief

There are several potential defenses that a person can raise to a charge of criminal mischief, which include the following:

  • The damage to the property was accident rather than intentional.
  • The destruction of the property was necessary for a person to protect him or herself.
  • There is a legal justification for the destruction of the property.
  • The person being charged actually owned the property.
  • The property destruction occurred during an altercation.

Speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you are charged with criminal mischief in Denton or the surrounding area, it is imperative that you quickly obtain the assistance of an aggressive criminal defense attorney. Contact Wheeler Law Offices today to discuss your case and learn how our legal counsel can help you.

(image courtesy of Alice Pasqual)