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Defacing Property

Often referred to as vandalism outside court, defacing property is a serious crime in the state of Colorado. The offense involves destroying or altering the physical appearance of a landmark or other public property. The crime does also include erasing or removing information such as altering letters, so they say something different than what was intended. Common examples of defacing property include graffiti, etching writing, or destroying property.

Most cases of defacing property are harmless and result in very minimal damage. Unfortunately, that fact won’t stop prosecutors from charging you with an offense. You could face a misdemeanor or felony charge all because of a harmless prank or mistake. That is why we recommend you secure legal representation as soon as possible. An experienced defense lawyer can assess the case and develop a formidable defense plan to protect your future.

Defense Lawyer for Defacing Property in Denver, CO

Most defacing property cases involve young adults or minors who are simply looking for a night of mischief. However, the state of Colorado is not particularly forgiving to those convicted of defacing property. Depending on the facts of the case, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense. If you or someone you know has been accused of defacing property, consult with Law Office of Matthew A. Martin, P.C..

Matthew Martin has 26 years of diverse trial experience that could be essential to building your defense. Set up your first consultation with him today by calling our offices at (303) 725-0017. Law Office of Matthew A. Martin, P.C. has offices in Denver, but accepts clients in nearby counties including Adams County, Arapahoe County, Broomfield County, Jefferson County, Douglas County, and Boulder County.

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What Does it Mean to Deface Property in Colorado?

In Colorado, you’re guilty of defacing an object if you intentionally alter or destroy its appearance. Prosecutors must prove you intentionally and knowingly defaced the property. Instances where the property was altered or destroyed on accident is not enough to constitute charges for defacing property. You must have had intentions to alter or destroy the property in some way for the prosecution to convict you.

The crime does extend to erasing information, such as altering letters or scrubbing away an important notice. Usually, defacing property charges stem from graffiti or someone destroying public property. The exact penalties for the crime will depend on the amount of damage done as well as what type of object was involved. The punishment for the crime can range from a class 1 petty offense to a class 1 misdemeanor.


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Penalties for Defacing or Destroying Written Instrument in CO

Making changes and otherwise defacing a written instrument evidencing as a property right is prohibited under C.R.S. 18-4-507. The instrument can include titles to real property, title to a motor vehicle, a type of deed, or any other document that’s evidence of ownership. When a person attempts to alter the document by erasing sections, crossing out language, altering names, etc., it’s referred to as defacing or destroying a written document.

Defacing a written instrument demonstrating ownership is a class 1 misdemeanor. The maximum penalties for a class 1 misdemeanor include:

  • Up to 18 months in jail
  • A fine of up to $5,000

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Penalties for Defacing or Removing Landmarks in Colorado

Knowingly or intentionally changing or altering property boundaries is referred to as defacing or destroying a landmark or monument. The purpose of the law is to prohibit others from defacing or removing boundary stakes in an effort to increase their property size or decrease another person’s property size. Although most cities and suburbs have property lines clearly marked, in some areas the boundaries are not as clear.

Knowingly cutting down a boundary tree or defacing/removing any location stake or other land boundary monument is considered defacing or removing a landmark. The penalty for the crime upon conviction is a class 2 misdemeanor, which can result in the following penalties:

  • Up to 12 months in jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000

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Penalties for Defacing a Public Notice in Colorado

Public notices that were designed to give notice to the public about business changes or certain government actions are protected by Colorado law. Some examples of public notices include signs saying a business is obtaining a liquor license, sold property signs, or messages that a building is about to be torn down. Removing, destroying, or marking a public notice is a class 1 petty offense under Colorado law.The maximum penalty for a class 1 petty offense include:

  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • A fine of up to $500

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Penalties for Defacing Property in Colorado

Unless specified by the statute, most public and private property is protected under the defacing property statute CRS Section 18-4-509. The statute does extend to historical monuments and natural caves in the state. That means tunnels, mines, aqueducts, and excavation sites are also protected from alteration or destruction. You could even be charged for simply breaking the locks, doors, or structure designed to enclose the cave.

Defacing property without aggravating factors is a class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by:

  • Up to 12 months in jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000

If it’s your second or subsequent offense, the crime is reclassified to a class 1 misdemeanor. The maximum sentence you can receive for a class 1 misdemeanor includes:

  • Up to 18 months in jail
  • A fine of up to $5,000

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Additional Resources

Revised Statutes | Colorado Property Laws– Access the link to visit the Colorado Legal Resource Public Access Website and learn more about property laws in Colorado. Enter the site to read up on the various property crimes, their penalties, possible admissible defenses, and other interesting information.

Jury Instructions | Defacing Property – Visit the official website for the Colorado Courts to read up on the jury instructions for defacing property. Access the site to read the actual instructions and documents given to the jury when deciding a verdict for defacing property of all types.


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Vandalism & Graffiti Defense Lawyer in Denver, Colorado

If you or someone you know has been charged with defacing property, get in contact with an experienced attorney today with Law Office of Matthew A. Martin, P.C.. Property crime Matthew Martin’s two decades of experience could help you build a formidable case against the prosecution. Don’t wait another moment to secure your right and future. Secure legal representation with Law Office of Matthew A. Martin, P.C. today by calling our number at (303) 725-0017.


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