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Criminal Mischief

Criminal Mischief is the crime of destroying another person’s property. It is a “knowing” offense – meaning that the defendant has to know that he or she is damaging the property. In other words, accidental damage is never considered to be Criminal Mischief. The seriousness of this crime is based upon the value of the property that has been destroyed.

A defendant is guilty of Criminal Mischief even in the event that the defendant is part owner of the property with the victim. In such a case, the defendant is guilty even if he purchased the damaged item.

Criminal Mischief as a Domestic Violence Offense
Criminal Mischief is very often charged in Domestic Violence cases. Attorney Kevin Churchill has handled countless Domestic Violence cases involving the destruction of a cell phone. Even in cases where no direct violence against the victim occurred, if found guilty of Criminal Mischief, the defendant will have to attend domestic violence classes for up to one year.

Anyone found guilty of this crime will be ordered to pay restitution as part of their sentence. In some cases, your defense attorney will make efforts to learn the value of the damage before you plead guilty, and arrange for the pre-payment of restitution in order to help mitigate the possible sentence, or even the nature of the guilty plea.

A person is not guilty of Criminal Mischief if they accidentally cause property damage during the commission of a different crime. For example, if a person was committing the crime of Felony Eluding, driving very fast to get away from police, and they accidentally hit a parked vehicle, this is not considered Criminal Mischief under Colorado law, since they did not have any intent to damage the property.

The chart below shows what level of crime is committed based on the value of the damage caused:

Value of Damage
Class of Offense
Maximum Jail*
Under $300
Class 3 Misdemeanor
6 Months County Jail
$300 to $749.99
Class 2 Misdemeanor
12 Months County Jail
$750 to $999.99
Class 1 Misdemeanor
18 Months County Jail
$1000 to $4,999.99
Class 6 Felony
18 Months in DOC**
$5,000 to $19,999.99
Class 5 Felony
3 Years in DOC
$20,000 to $99,999.99
Class 4 Felony
6 Years in DOC
$100,000 to $999,999.99
Class 3 Felony
12 Years in DOC
$1,000,000 or more
Class 2 Felony
24 Years in DOC

* Be aware that if the judge finds there are extraordinary aggravating circumstances in the case, the judge can increase the sentence to double the maximum sentence indicated.

** DOC means The Colorado Department of Corrections