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Criminal charges

criminal mischief

Criminal mischief is generally the damage, destruction, defacing, or alteration of tangible property (vandalism), done with criminal intent (intentionally or knowingly). Criminal mischief charges often arise from (1) damage to a home or dwelling; (2) damage to a place of business; (3) damage to a motor vehicle; (4) damage to a school; (5) defacement or destruction of public or private property (graffiti, etc.); or (6) tampering with public water, gas, power, or communications.

Criminal mischief laws are generally located in a state’s statutes—usually in the penal or criminal code.

In Texas, criminal mischief is addressed under the Texas Penal Code Section 28.03. The law defines criminal mischief as intentionally or knowingly damaging or destroying the tangible property of the owner, tampering with the property and causing pecuniary loss or substantial inconvenience, or marking, inscribing, drawing on, or otherwise defacing property without the owner's consent. The severity of the charges and the penalties for criminal mischief in Texas depend on the amount of pecuniary loss incurred as a result of the damage. This can range from a Class C misdemeanor for losses under $100, to a first-degree felony for losses of $300,000 or more. Criminal mischief that results in impairment or interruption of public services, like water, gas, power, or communications, may also result in more severe charges. The specific circumstances, such as the type of property damaged (homes, businesses, vehicles, schools) and the presence of any aggravating factors, can influence the level of charges and the associated penalties.

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