In Texas, the offense of criminal mischief involves damage or destruction to property in the form of deliberate vandalism, wanton destruction of property, and sometimes even arson. Graffiti can also be prosecuted as criminal mischief, although a separate offense exists for this type of damage.
Texas criminal mischief statutes prohibit crimes against tangible property including real estate and personal property, but excluding intangible property such as patents and copyrights. More specifically, it prohibits:
Penalties for a conviction of criminal mischief are partly determined by the dollar amount of the owner’s loss – a Class C Misdemeanor (no jail) if under $50, a Class B Misdemeanor (up to 180 days) if under $500, and a Class A Misdemeanor (up to a year), if under $1,500. If the amount is $1,500 or more, you can be charged with a felony. Felonies are also classified in terms of seriousness- prison terms escalate the greater the amount of the loss. At the top end, a loss of at least $200,000 can result in a prison sentence of up to 99 years. Stiff fines apply to all of these charges and may be imposed even if you don’t go to jail.
Certain factors other than the value of the loss can come into play when determining the penalty for criminal mischief. For example, damaging a home, church, or cemetery with a firearm or a bomb is an automatic felony regardless of the amount of damage.
If you are prosecuted under the separate graffiti statute, the penalties are nearly identical to those stated above. It seems hard to believe that you could be sentenced to 9 years in prison for graffiti, but it is possible under Texas law.
A criminal mischief charge could cause you a world of problems even if you are not guilty. If convicted, you will face a lifetime criminal record and perhaps even time in jail. There is no need for you to simply submit to a prosecutor. I will act without hesitation to aggressively defend you against the prosecution, and I will confront witnesses against you in open court. Call Corley Legal, PLLC any time 24/7 in San Antonio or Austin and surrounding counties at (210) 444-2889 / (512) 444-2889 to schedule a time to discuss your case.