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Crimes Regarding Property

Crimes Regarding Property - Criminal Mischief

You may know it as “vandalism,” but the law in Colorado refers to this crime as “criminal mischief.” If you have been charged with criminal mischief, it’s important that you act now and secure legal representation. You need someone who is experienced in this type of case and can help you get the best possible legal outcome.

Patterson Weaver is a former prosecutor who is now a defense attorney with experience defending clients against criminal mischief charges. Reach out to our law firm today to set up a free consultation to discuss your case and learn how we can help you.

What Is Considered Criminal Mischief In Colorado?

Criminal mischief is knowingly damaging personal property or land belonging to another person. You can also be charged and convicted of criminal mischief in Colorado if you are the joint owner of the property that has been damaged, or if you yourself are the owner but someone else has a proprietary or possessory interest in it, such as a long-term lease on the property or property shared with a spouse. (See “Can Criminal Mischief Be Charged as Domestic Violence?” below.)

Even minor damage to property can constitute criminal mischief. This includes breaking, defacing, damaging, or rendering property inoperable. However, stealing property is not considered criminal mischief and is charged under different criminal statutes.

For an act to be considered criminal mischief, it must be committed knowingly. If you accidentally damage your neighbor’s hedge while putting up a fence in your yard, it would not be considered criminal mischief. But if you cut down your neighbor’s hedge because you don’t like how it looks, that would be criminal mischief. Reckless behavior that knowingly leads to property damage may also be considered criminal mischief.

What Are The Different Types Of Criminal Mischief?

Criminal mischief can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the crime (see “What Are The Penalties And Sentences For Criminal Mischief?” below). There are many different types of criminal mischief, some of which you may also be familiar with under the more common term “vandalism”:

  • Drawing, painting, or spraying graffiti on buildings, vehicles, or other property
  • Marking another person’s property
  • Defacing or tampering with a grave
  • Tampering with a fire hydrant or fire hose
  • Tampering with an emergency alarm or emergency exit signage
  • Removing or moving a property boundary marker
  • Hacking into someone’s computer
  • Spreading a computer virus to someone else’s computer

This list is not comprehensive, though, and other property defacement or damage may be considered criminal mischief in the eyes of the law.

What Are The Penalties And Sentences For Criminal Mischief?

The penalties and sentences for criminal mischief in Colorado are defined under Colorado Revised Statute (CRS) § 18-4-501 in the Colorado Criminal Code. As noted above, the penalties for criminal mischief depend on the circumstances of the crime and its severity based on the value of the real or personal property damaged:

Less than $300
  • Class 3 misdemeanor
  • Up to six months in jail and
  • Up to $750 in fines
Between $300 and $750
  • Class 2 misdemeanor
  • Up to one year in prison and
  • Up to $1,000 in fines
Between $750 and $1,000
  • Class 1 misdemeanor
  • Up to 18 months in prison and
  • Up to $5,000 in fines
Between $1,000 and $5,000
  • Class 6 felony
  • Up to 18 months in prison and
  • Up to $100,000 in fines
Between $5,000 and $20,000
  • Class 5 felony
  • Up to three years in prison and
  • Up to $100,000 in fines
Between $20,000 and $100,000
  • Class 4 felony
  • Up to six years in prison and
  • Up to $500,000 in fines
Between $100,000 and $1 Million
  • Class 3 felony
  • Up to 12 years in prison and
  • Up to $750,000 in fines
Over $1 Million
  • Class 2 felony
  • Up to 24 years in prison and
  • Up to 1 million dollars in fines
Can Criminal Mischief Be Charged As Domestic Violence?

As mentioned earlier, joint domestic property can often be involved in criminal mischief cases, and this can lead to domestic violence charges. Even actions that would seem funny in the movies can wind up being quite serious when it comes to the law.

For example, if you are angry at your spouse and you retaliate by running over their golf clubs in the driveway or slashing their tires, you may not only be charged with criminal mischief but domestic violence as well because of the way Colorado laws interpret domestic violence. This is all the more reason to engage a defense attorney who is experienced with both domestic violence and criminal mischief cases.

What Are Some Common Legal Defenses To Criminal Mischief Charges?

In working on your criminal mischief case, Patterson Weaver Law will evaluate the details of your one-of-a-kind situation to see if some common legal defenses may apply. While there are literally hundreds of nuances within various defense strategies, some of the most frequently used legal defenses include:

Choice of evils/justification

If another choice would have resulted in more serious consequences, your criminal mischief may be justified. For example, if you knowingly drove on your neighbor’s lawn and knocked over their mailbox to avoid hitting a dog in the road, this defense may apply.

Execution of public duty

Sometimes performing public duty may technically result in criminal mischief, such as a firefighter breaking down a door to investigate smoke coming from the house of someone who is not at home.


This defense may be applied if, say, someone threatened you into committing a crime of criminal mischief.


Entrapment is when someone in a position of power over you, usually a government official, encourages you to commit a crime you normally wouldn’t commit.

Impaired mental condition

Someone in an impaired mental condition is someone who is sane but may be suffering from a psychiatric disease.


This defense is similar to impaired mental condition and involves a defendant who has a mental disease or defect and may be considered insane at the time the crime was committed.

Involuntary intoxication

This means the crime was committed while intoxicated without voluntarily using drugs or alcohol. For example, you may have consumed a beverage not knowing it contained alcohol.


No child under the age of 10 may be charged with a crime in the state of Colorado.

Need Help Defending Yourself Against A Criminal Mischief Charge? Contact Us Today!

Do not wait if you have been charged with criminal mischief in the Colorado Springs area! You need to speak with an expert in criminal mischief cases to mount a defense that gives you the best possible legal outcome.

Our team at Patterson Weaver Law has a track record of getting desirable results for our clients. Your future may depend on choosing the right criminal mischief attorney for your unique situation. Give us a call at 719-264-9858 or reach out online to set up a free case evaluation today.

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