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Are criminal mischief charges in Colorado serious?

Anytime you or a loved one face criminal charges, the matter is serious and in need of a serious approach. Even the most seemingly minor charges can quickly devolve into a legal situation that may affect your life, your freedom and your finances. While criminal mischief sounds like a minor infraction without serious consequences, it still requires your immediate attention accompanied by a solid criminal defense.

What is criminal mischief?

In most cases, these offenses involve the destruction of property belonging to a private citizen, a business or even the state or federal government. Some jurisdictions call these offenses vandalism while others call it criminal mischief, but they are generally treated the same way in terms of penalties. Some examples of criminal mischief include the following:

  • Marking or painting another entity's property
  • Damaging another person's vehicle (e.g. "keying" a car)
  • Breaking a window in a home, office or store
  • Defacing or destroying items in someone's home
  • Tearing down, marking or destroying signs

What are the consequences of criminal mischief convictions?

Depending on the value of the destroyed property, the consequences can be quite severe without a solid criminal defense. Further, in Colorado, it does not matter if criminal mischief was unintentional. As long as the defendant knew that the property in question would suffer damages or destruction, criminal charges may apply. Possible penalties include the following:

  • Jail time: Up to 18 months for a misdemeanor and up to 24 years for a felony
  • Fines: Up to $5,000 for a misdemeanor and up to $1 million for a felony

Whether your minor child is facing such charges or you are facing them as an adult, it is very unwise to assume that a good outcome is automatic. Instead, take a proactive approach to your situation by building your defense as early as possible. A criminal defense attorney can help you create realistic goals that might minimize any penalties you incur if convicted.

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