Criminal Mischief

Sec. 28.03.  CRIMINAL MISCHIEF.  A person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner:
(1) if a person intentionally or knowingly damages or destroys the tangible property of the owner; or
(2)  if a person intentionally or knowingly tampers with the tangible property of the owner and causes pecuniary loss or substantial inconvenience to the owner or a third person;  or
(3)  if a person intentionally or knowingly makes markings, including inscriptions, slogans, drawings, or paintings, on the tangible property of the owner.

Range of Punishment:
If the loss is:
A. Less than $50, the charge is generally a Misdemeanor C.
B. Between $50 and $500, the charge is generally a Misdemeanor B.
C. Between $500 and $1,500, the charge is generally a Misdemeanor A.
D. Between $1,500 and $20,000, the charge is generally a State Jail Felony.
E. Between $20,000 and $100,000, the charge is generally a Third Degree Felony.
F. Between $100,000 and $200,000; the charge is generally a Second Degree Felony.
G. More than $200,000, the charge is generally a First Degree Felony.

Other factors that would enhance the range of punishment (beyond pecuniary  damages) include:
  • If the damage caused an impairment, diversion or interruption of any public water supply (including installation or removal of any device for any such purpose);
  • The property damaged or destroyed was a home/habitation and if the damage or destruction is caused by a firearm or explosive weapon;
  • The property was a fence used for the production or containment of: cattle, bison, horses, sheep, swine, goats, exotic livestock, or exotic poultry  game animals (Defined by Section 63.001, Parks and Wildlife Code);
  • If the damage caused an impairment, diversion or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public gas or power supply, or other public service (including installation or removal of any device for any such purpose);
  • Is inflicted on a place of worship or human burial, a public monument, or a community center that provides medical, social, or educational program.
  • the tangible property damaged, destroyed, or tampered with is transportation communications equipment or a transportation communications device;                                                                            
Further, it is presumed that a person has knowingly tampered with the tangible property if the communication or supply has been: (1) diverted from passing through a metering device;  or (2)  prevented from being correctly registered by a metering device;  or (3)  activated by any device installed to obtain public communications, public water, gas, or power supply without a metering device.
Also, when more than one item of tangible property, belonging to one or more owners, is damaged, destroyed, or tampered with in violation of this section pursuant to an ongoing scheme or continuing course of conduct, the conduct may be considered as one offense, and the amounts of pecuniary loss to property resulting from the damage to, destruction of, or tampering with the property may be aggregated in determining the grade of the offense.

Definitions:
(1)  "Explosive weapon" means any explosive or incendiary device that is designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting serious bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, or for the principal purpose of causing such a loud report as to cause undue public alarm or terror, and includes: (A)  an explosive or incendiary bomb, grenade, rocket, and mine; (B)  a device designed, made, or adapted for delivering or shooting an explosive weapon; and (C)  a device designed, made, or adapted to start a fire in a time-delayed manner.
(2)  "Firearm" has the meaning assigned by Section 46.01.
(3)  "Institution of higher education" has the meaning assigned by Section 61.003, Education Code.
(4)  "Aluminum wiring" means insulated or noninsulated wire or cable that consists of at least 50 percent aluminum, including any tubing or conduit attached to the wire or cable.
(5)  "Bronze wiring" means insulated or noninsulated wire or cable that consists of at least 50 percent bronze, including any tubing or conduit attached to the wire or cable.
(6)  "Copper wiring" means insulated or noninsulated wire or cable that consists of at least 50 percent copper, including any tubing or conduit attached to the wire or cable.
(7)  "Transportation communications equipment" means:(A)  an official traffic-control device, railroad sign or signal, or traffic-control signal, as those terms are defined by Section 541.304, Transportation Code; or (B)  a sign, signal, or device erected by a railroad, public body, or public officer to direct the movement of a railroad train, as defined by Section 541.202, Transportation Code.
(8)  "Transportation communications device" means any item attached to transportation communications equipment, including aluminum wiring, bronze wiring, and copper wiring.

Gilbert G. Garcia has practiced Criminal Law since 1978 and has been Board Certified in Criminal Law since 1989. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is the logical choice to represent you in your criminal case, providing the quality legal services you deserve in your most important matters. Free initial consultations and reasonable fees. Personal payments plans available and most major credit cards accepted. Many issues are able to be handled via e-mail, phone calls and fax and after hours and weekend appointments are available upon request to meet the needs of each client. Conveniently located on the Montgomery County Courthouse square since 1983.

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