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In late March, three 15-year-old teenage boys broke into a church in Thornton and committed what has been described by police as “malicious destruction of church property.”


The teens were caught by a pastor of the church when they triggered an alarm, and were arrested at the scene. They are alleged to have caused over $80,000 in damages, and face felony-level charges for second-degree burglary and criminal mischief.


This means, if convicted, the teens face the profound consequences of being convicted felons – something that will affect every aspect of their lives, from employment and college admission prospects to housing applications, gun rights, and other personal freedoms.


Although these teens’ case is extreme, it’s possible to be brought up on felony-level criminal mischief charges for far less. Even a misdemeanor-level criminal mischief offense can result in a criminal record that could devastate your future.


This case highlights the consequences of even a seemingly low-level offense such as criminal mischief, and the importance of being aware of the law. Let’s take a look at how Colorado defines and punishes criminal mischief – and how to beat criminal mischief charges.


How Colorado Defines Criminal Mischief


Criminal mischief generally refers to the knowing damage of property. The actual acts associated with the offense can range from repairable defacement of property, such as graffiti, to total destruction of property.


Colorado legally defines criminal mischief as knowingly damaging the real or personal property of another. This can also include property owned by the defendant if the property damaged is jointly owned by someone else.


Importantly, Colorado law defines criminal mischief as the “knowing” damage of property rather than the “intentional” damage. This means that the defendant does not need to act with the purpose of damaging the property so long as they should reasonably be aware that their actions would damage the property.


Penalties and Sentences for Colorado Criminal Mischief


As with most property crimes, criminal mischief is charged and sentenced based on the monetary value of the damage.


The sentences and penalties for Colorado criminal mischief are as follows:


Penalties and Sentences for Colorado Criminal Mischief


  • Under $300: Class 3 misdemeanor; Up to six months in jail and fines of up to $750
  • $300-$750: Class 2 misdemeanor; Up to one year in prison and fines of up to $1,000
  • $1,000-$5,000: Class 6 felony; Up to 1.5 years in prison and fines of up to $5,000
  • $5,000-$20,000: Class 5 felony; Up to three years in prison and fines of up to $100,000
  • $20,000-$100,000: Class 4 felony; Up to six years in prison and fines of up to $500,000
  • $100,000-$1,000,000: Class 3 felony; Up to 12 years in prison and fines of up to $750,000
  • Over $1 million: Class 2 felony; Up to 24 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million


Facing Colorado Criminal Mischief Charges?


Even a relatively minor criminal mischief offense can result in long-lasting consequences if you are convicted. It is therefore important to take criminal mischief charges seriously in order to protect your future.


Be proactive by retaining a skilled Denver criminal defense attorney as early in the process as possible. A knowledgeable lawyer may even be able to get your case thrown out entirely, and will work tirelessly to reach the best possible outcome for your case.



About the Author:

Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state.  She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.

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