Criminal Mischief arson

A property offense charge relies heavily on physical evidence and witness statements. The police must show that you knew you did not have a right to destroy or damage the property, that you intended to destroy or damage it, and that you physically committed the act that caused the damage.

In an arson case, they might use traces of accelerants from the scene, combined with surveillance camera footage from a store where you bought a can of gas. In a graffiti case, they might use a spray can with your fingerprints on it found near the scene. Or, they might use witnesses that saw you near the property when the damage occurred.

A criminal charge of Arson in Texas

Under Texas criminal law, arson is the act of starting a fire or causing an explosion for the purpose of destroying or damaging land, buildings, or vehicles. Starting a fire is considered arson even if the fire goes out before causing any damage.

You can be charged with arson if you start the fire or set off the explosion, and you know:

  • The property belongs to another person, sits on property belonging to another person, or contains property belonging to another person.
  • The property is insured against damage, or that there is a mortgage or lien on the property held by someone other than yourself.

Arson is a second-degree felony, punishable by 2 to 20 years in a state prison, unless the fire involves a church or someone is hurt or killed. In those cases, it is a first-degree felony, which could carry a life sentence. Arson in the course of manufacturing drugs is a state jail felony, punishable by 6 months to 2 years in jail.

Texas Criminal Mischief Charge

Criminal mischief is knowingly damaging or tampering with another person’s property in way that causes financial loss. That could be anything from slashing the tires on a car to vandalizing a business.

If you cause damage unintentionally, but while acting in a reckless manner, it is a Class C misdemeanor. Otherwise, the penalties for a criminal mischief charge depend largely on the value of the damage.

 

DAMAGE AMOUNT CLASSIFICATION PENALTY
Less than $50, or it causes “substantial inconvenience to others.” Class C misdemeanor A fine of not more than $500
$50 or more, but less than $500 Class B misdemeanor Not more than 180 days in a county jail and/or a fine of not more than $2,000
$500 or more but less than $1,500 

 

Class A misdemeanor Not more than 1 year in a county jail and/or a fine of not more than $4,000
$1,500 or more but less than $20,000 State jail felony 180 days to 2 years in a state jail and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
$20,000 or more but less than $100,000 Third-degree felony 2 to 10 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
$100,000 or more but less than $200,000 Second-degree felony 2 to 20 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
$200,000 or more First-degree felony 5 to 99 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000

The Seriousness of Graffiti in Texas

Graffiti is a specific form of vandalism using aerosol paint, an indelible marker, or an engraving device to write or draw on someone else’s property without permission. As with criminal mischief, the penalties vary according to the amount of damage, including the cost of removal, but graffiti can quickly become a serious charge.

 

DAMAGE AMOUNT CLASSIFICATION PENALTY
Less than $500 Class B misdemeanor Not more than 180 days in a county jail and/or a fine of not more than $2,000
$500 or more but less than $1,500 

 

Class A misdemeanor Not more than 1 year in a county jail and/or a fine of not more than $4,000
$1,500 or more but less than $20,000 State jail felony 180 days to 2 years in a state jail and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
$20,000 or more but less than $100,000 Third-degree felony 2 to 10 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
$100,000 or more but less than $200,000 Second-degree felony 2 to 20 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
$200,000 or more First-degree felony 5 to 99 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000

Graffiti becomes an automatic state jail felony, even if the damage is under $20,000, if it involves a school, church, cemetery, public monument, or community center.

 

 

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