Colorado's Criminal Mischief Law & Penalties

In the state of Colorado, someone may be found guilty of criminal mischief charges if the evidence shows that they knowingly damaged property belonging to someone else. The property may be real estate or personal belongings. If you have been charged with criminal mischief, you will need to seek advice from a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. 

About Criminal Mischief Charges

Criminal mischief charges, which may also be called "vandalism," can arise anytime someone damages property that belongs to another person or entity. In many cases, however, these charges are filed after a domestic dispute ends with damaged property. It is important to note that criminal mischief charges can be filed even if the property was jointly owned by the defendant. For example, if you are in the middle of a divorce, and you decide to damage property you own jointly with your spouse, you may be guilty of criminal mischief in Colorado. 

The value of the damage in question will determine the specific charge you will face in a criminal mischief case. These charges range from a Class 3 Misdemeanor in cases of minor damage to a Class 2 Felony in cases of more expensive damage to real estate or personal property. 

Potential Penalties for Criminal Mischief 

If you are convicted of a criminal mischief charge, the possible sentence you will face depends on the specifics of the charge, as well as other factors. Sentencing guidelines for criminal mischief charges are as follows:

  • Class 3 Misdemeanor (Less than $300 damage) - Up to six months in jail and a fine ranging from $50 to $750
  • Class 2 Misdemeanor ($300 to $750 damage) - Three to 12 months in jail and a fine ranging from $250 to $1,000
  • Class 1 Misdemeanor ($750 to $1000 damage) - Six to 18 months in jail and a fine ranging from $500 to $5,000
  • Class 6 Felony ($1,000 to $5,000 damage) - One to 1.5 years in state prison and a fine ranging from $1,000 to $100,000
  • Class 5 Felony ($5,000 to $20,000 damage) - One to three years in state prison and a fine ranging from $1,000 to $100,000
  • Class 4 Felony ($20,000 to $100,000 damage) - Two to six years in state prison and a fine ranging from $2,000 to $500,000
  • Class 3 Felony ($100,000 to $1,000,000 damage) - Four to 12 years in state prison and a fine ranging from $3,000 to $750,000
  • Class 2 Felony (More than $1,000,000 damage) - Eight to 24 years in state prison and a fine ranging from $5,000 to $100,000,000

The exact sentence you will face will be determined by the court. Your criminal background, as well as the specific circumstances of the case, will play a role in this process. The skill of your attorney can also have a significant impact on the outcome of your criminal mischief case. 

Types of Criminal Mischief

You may be charged with criminal mischief any time you damage someone else's property. Some of the most common types of criminal mischief include:

  • Hacking someone's computer
  • Graffiti on buildings
  • Using weapons or fire to destroy property
  • Keying a vehicle
  • Purposefully breaking something valuable

The higher the value of the property damaged, the more serious these charges will be. 

Criminal Mischief Defenses

Choosing the right defense in a criminal mischief case could save you years in prison. The exact defense you should use will depend on the circumstances of the incident. However, some of the most common defenses for criminal mischief include:

  • False identification - Some defendants may be able to provide evidence showing they have been falsely identified as the person responsible for damaging the property in question.
  • Property isn't valuable - If the value of the property damaged is questionable, the property's low or nonexistent value may be used as part of the defense. 
  • Damage wasn't intentional - Someone who knowingly damages property is guilty of criminal mischief, but unintentional damage doesn't count. Some defendants may argue against their charges by saying that they caused damage by accident. 
  • Damage was permitted - If there is evidence that the property's owner permitted the behavior that led to property damage, the defendant can typically avoid conviction. 

Attorneys who specialize in defending clients against charges like criminal mischief will be able to help you determine the best defense in your case, as well as to provide you with other valuable legal advice. For the best results, select an attorney who is also knowledgeable about related practice areas, such as domestic violence, child abuse, and DUI. 

Tips for Working With Your Attorney

When you are facing criminal charges, you may feel both frightened and alone. However, a criminal defense attorney can be your strongest ally in this type of case. To get the most benefit from your relationship with your attorney:

1. Remember your attorney is on your side. 

It is natural to be defensive when facing criminal charges, but you don't need to feel defensive when interacting with your attorney. Your attorney wants only the best outcome for you and will not judge you or condemn you, regardless of the circumstances. 

2. Take advantage of attorney client privilege. 

The more information your attorney has, the easier it will be for them to build a strong defense and help you make wise decisions throughout the case. Your conversations and the information you divulge to your attorney are protected by the attorney client privilege. Even if you are worried that something you did or something you know could make you look bad, you should still tell your attorney the truth. 

3. Maintain open communication.

Your attorney is available to answer all your questions, address your concerns, provide support, and prepare you for court appearances. Maintain open lines of communication with your attorney at all times so you can keep yourself up-to-date on the progress of the case and be fully prepared for the next step. 

4. Listen to your attorney's advice. 

When it comes to making decisions in your case, the final call will always be yours. However, your attorney will offer guidance and suggestions every step of the way based on their knowledge and experience. It is typically in your best interest to listen to your attorney's advice, especially if the attorney has a solid track record of success when representing criminal defense clients. 

Contact a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with criminal mischief in Colorado, you need to contact a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Our law firm has the knowledge and resources necessary to help you minimize the impact of criminal mischief charges and protect your rights. Please contact us today to make an appointment or to learn more. 


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to  create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

© 2021 All Rights Reserved.

Advocate SEO