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Criminal Mischief

According to Colorado law, “a person commits criminal mischief when he or she knowingly damages the real or personal property of another.” Depending on the extent and value of the damage, criminal mischief can be a felony, misdemeanor, or just a petty offense. Criminal mischief is sometimes referred to as destruction of property or vandalism.

The property damaged by the individual can be jointly owned, and the person who caused the damage can still be solely liable. This often occurs during a divorce or argument between two or more people.

Denver Criminal Mischief Lawyer

Have you been arrested for criminal mischief in Colorado? Contact Law Office of Matthew A. Martin, P.C.. Law Office of Matthew A. Martin, P.C. represents clients charged with a wide variety of property crimes including criminal mischief, theft, and arson. Our criminal defense lawyer Matthew Martin at Law Office of Matthew A. Martin, P.C. has helped many clients, just like you, who were frustrated and embarrassed. He will mount a formidable strong on your behalf.

Law Office of Matthew A. Martin, P.C. accepts clients throughout the greater Denver area including Golden, Lakewood, Broomfield, Boulder, Morrison, Centennial, Englewood, Deer Trail, Louisville, Nederland, and Eldora. Contact our firm at (303) 725-0017 to set up a free consultation as soon as possible.


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Information Center


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Penalties for Criminal Mischief in Colorado

The punishment for criminal mischief in Colorado depends on the value of the property destroyed. The court will look at multiple factors to determine the property’s value. Typically, courts settle on using fair market value. Fair market value is determined by how much the property would sell today.

If the fair market value does not correctly account for the property destroyed or the court cannot determine the value, the court will look to other factors. Some of these factors include:

  • Replacement cost of the property destroyed
  • Original purchase price
  • Salvage value of the property, and
  • The general use or purpose of the property.

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Examples Of Possible Penalties

Below is a table that correlates possible penalties with the destroyed property value. Depending on the court and other circumstances, these amounts may still be altered or varied depending on numerous factors.

Value of Damage Crime Colorado Penalty
Less than $300 Petty Offense Up to 10 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $300
$300 to $1,000 Class 2 Misdemeanor Up to 120 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $750
$1,000 to $2,000 Class 1 Misdemeanor Uo to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000
$2,000 to $5,000 Class 6 Felony One to one and one-half years in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000
$5,000 to $20,000 Class 5 Felony One to three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000
$20,000 to $100,000 Class 4 Felony Two to Six years in prison and/or a fine of up to $500,000
$100,000 to $1,000,000 Class 3 Felony Four to Twelve years in prison and/or a fine of up to $750,000
$1,000,000 plus Class 2 Felony Eight to Twenty-Four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000,000

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Defenses for Criminal Mischief in Colorado

An attorney can help a defendant construct a defense to help them lessen or even remove the penalty imposed by the statute. Common strategies include accident, self-defense, mistaken identity, false accusations, and no damage caused.

  • Accident: This can be used as a defense when the accused accidentally damaged the property. An essential element of the crime is knowing it is being committed, so if the accused did not intentionally damage the property, they might use “accident” as a defense.
  • Self-defense: The accused only damaged the property to protect themselves or another person. Attempts at self-defense or the defense of others must be reasonable.
  • Mistaken Identity: The accused was not the person who damaged the property. The defendant is not the correct person who should be in court.
  • False Accusations: The accused was falsely accused by someone of destroying the property. This may be out of spite or used as revenge.
  • No Damage: Law enforcement may have been wrong about the property damage. Perhaps the property had always appeared damaged, or it occurred so long ago that it is no longer possible to charge a defendant for the offense.

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Statute Of Limitations

Most crimes have a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the time period in which the prosecutor must file charges against the accused. Once this time period runs out, the prosecutor can no longer file charges against the individual unless there is a specific exception. In Colorado, the statute of limitations time period depends on the degree of crime committed. Crimes with the lowest punishment have the shortest statute of limitations. Larger punishment crimes have a longer statute of limitations period. Some crimes have no limitations.


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Other Considerations

Criminal mischief incidents are often connected to relational and domestic violence issues. If these two crimes occur together, the accused will also be placed under a mandatory domestic violence protective order, even if the damage caused was an accident.


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Additional Resources

Colorado Revised Statues § 18-4-501 (2016) – This website directly links to the entire Colorado statute explaining criminal mischief and the penalties for the crime depending on the severity.

How To Report Criminal Mischief – This resource provides suggested guidelines to follow provided by the Colorado Secretary of State on how to report common criminal convictions so they may be appropriately prosecuted.


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Colorado Criminal Mischief Lawyer | Denver, CO

If you have been arrested for criminal mischief in Denver, CO, it is important that you seek the help of a qualified criminal defense lawyer. Do not wait to develop a strong defense against property crimes. Attorney Matthew Martin at Law Office of Matthew A. Martin, P.C. has defended clients against criminal mischief accusations in Colorado over 26 years.

He is prepared to provide personalized attention to your unique case. Don’t wait to contact Law Office of Matthew A. Martin, P.C. any longer. If you reside in Denver, CO or Adams County, Arapahoe County, Douglas County, Broomfield County, or Boulder County, call (303) 725-0017 to secure a free consultation with Law Office of Matthew A. Martin, P.C. today.


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