Even as criminal mischief rates have gone down in recent years, it continues to be a big problem among the youth. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, in 2016, there were 1,491 juveniles arrested for vandalism. Texas laws can be tough on criminal mischief offenses even with minors. It’s best to seek a lawyer for criminal mischief of juveniles if you have a case like this on your hands. If your minor is in trouble with the law and is now charged with criminal mischief, you should seek legal counsel right now. If he or she meant no wrong but got charged anyway, you will need a lawyer for criminal mischief to build a viable defense for your case.
At The Gonzalez Law Group, we make sure to analyze your case front to back and share every step of the juvenile process with you. We understand the emotional toll cases like one can take on you and your family. Call our office at (832) 530-4070 for a consultation with no strings attached.
We work with clients living in Harris County, Galveston County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Waller County, and more.
Juvenile Criminal Mischief Offense
Criminal mischief is frequently referred to as vandalism or graffiti. Criminal mischief can be confused with property damage, but the two are severely different. Criminal mischief is an act that is done knowingly and purposely. The act has to have been intentional versus accidental.
Section 28.03 of the Texas Penal Code defines criminal mischief as one of the following examples:
- Purposely damaging or destroying someone else’s property;
- Purposely disturbing someone else’s property and causing a loss or inconvenience to the owner or a third party; or,
- Purposely marking or inscribing on someone else’s property
The classification of offenses regarding criminal mischief is as follows:
Class C misdemeanor
- if the monetary loss amounts to less than $100;
- or if the act causes a significant amount of inconvenience to others
Class B misdemeanor
- if the monetary loss amounts to $100-$750
Class A misdemeanor
- if the monetary loss amounts to $750-$2,500;
- or if the act interferes or disrupts the public water supply or interferes or disrupts the installation or removal of any public water supply
State Jail Felony
- if the monetary loss amounts to $2,500-$30,000;
- if the monetary loss amounts to less than $2,500 but the property is a living space and the act involved an explosive or firearm;
- if the monetary loss amounts to less than $2,500 but the property is a fence used to produce or safeguard livestock or hunting animals;
- if the monetary loss amounts to less than $30,000 and has caused interruption or removal of a public service or public supply;
- if the monetary loss amounts to $750-$30,000 and damage involves a place of worship, burial, or public monument, community center providing medical, social, or educational programs, or an educational institution
3rd Degree Felony
- if the monetary loss amounts to $30,000-$150,000;
- if a weapon or firearm was discharged and caused the death of cattle, bison, or horses;
- or if the monetary loss amounts to less $150,000 and the damage involved a transportation communications equipment or device;
2nd Degree Felony
- if the monetary loss amounts to $150,000-$300,000
1st Degree Felony
- if the monetary loss amounts to $300,000;
- or if the property involves livestock and the damage results in mad cow disease;
Juvenile Process for Criminal Mischief
The juvenile court process works differently for crimes committed by juveniles than the regular court process for crimes committed by adults. Texas doesn’t have any specific code for juvenile criminal mischief, however, the definition of criminal mischief is the same. Since criminal mischief offenses involve a loss of property, penalties include paying the owner of the property back for damages. One of the main distinctions between the juvenile court process and the adult court process involves incarceration. What might have been one year in the county jail for an adult can result in probation or a juvenile diversion program for a minor. However, if the offense is more serious, then the minor may be sent to a juvenile detention facility.
Juvenile courts can still require the same fine be attributed to a juvenile as it would to an adult. The fine amount ranges between $500 for a misdemeanor offense, to $10,000 for a first-degree offense. If the juvenile defendant is a younger age, in which he or she has no source of income, any associated fine can pass on to the parents. All punishments, however, are ultimately subject to the juvenile court and the judge’s decision.
Even though the age of criminal responsibility in Texas is 17 years of age, a juvenile court can relinquish its control over a juvenile and hand the case over to the adult court process. That is all depending on the court’s view of the accused and the severity of the offense. Because criminal mischief can result in a first-degree felony in certain circumstances, the severity of the crime can have a juvenile tried as an adult or transferred to an adult court if they are older than 14 at the time of the offense. If the criminal mischief juvenile crime classifies as a second-degree or third-degree offense, the juvenile court can hand over a juvenile defendant to the adult court if they are 15 years or older.
Juvenile Justice Handbook – The following page is the handbook for the juvenile court process inside Texas. The guide gives an overview of the difference offenses’ process inside the Texan juvenile court. You can find additional information regarding parents’ role and responsibility with juvenile crimes.
Juvenile Justice Department Page – The webpage is a helpful guide to understand the juvenile system in Texas. It covers the objective of the juvenile court system, as well as the model for doing so. The page also offers resources for parents to get more involved.
Attorney for Criminal Mischief in Harris County, TX
Criminal mischief by a juvenile is a severe offense under Texas law, punishable by juvenile incarceration. If you’re the parent of a juvenile accused of criminal mischief you need to seek legal help now. At The Gonzalez Law Group, we understand how any charge against your minor can cause a deep affliction on your family dynamic.
Our experienced team criminal defense attorneys are devoted to each client’s case. The Gonzalez Law Group understands how conflicting is having your son or daughter tried for a crime. If we take your case, our lawyer for juvenile criminal mischief can explain the whole process to you.
Call The Gonzalez Law Group at (832) 530-4070 to get your free consultation today. We work with clients in Houston, League City, Pearland, Pasadena, Galveston, La Porte, Baytown, Seabrook, Friendswood, and more.