Criminal mischief charges are extremely common among juveniles in Texas. Each year, roughly 1500 juveniles are arrested for vandalism, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Depending on the specificities of the offense, Texas juvenile judges may deliver harsh punishments. If your child has received a criminal mischief charge, retain a lawyer as soon as possible to mitigate the repercussions.
Juveniles in Texas
Criminal mischief is defined as an act that is intentionally and purposely committed. Meaning for a criminal mischief charge to stick, the act must have been intentional versus accidental. Juveniles in Texas are typically charged with criminal mischief when:
- purposely marking or inscribing on someone else’s property (commonly referred to as unsanctioned graffiti)
- intentionally destroying or damaging someone else’s property (commonly referred to as vandalism)
- purposefully disturbing someone else’s property and causing a loss or inconvenience to the owner or third party
What is defined as an intentional act?
As stated, a juvenile cannot accidentally commit criminal mischief. The law requires the person to act intentionally to cause property damage, even if the resulting property damage isn’t specifically the damage intended. For example, a child puts money into a vending machine, chooses a snack, and the snack becomes stuck on the way down. Let’s say the child begins kicking and shaking the machine to release the snack. If any damage results to the machine, the child could be convicted of criminal mischief. The fact that the child only intended to recover their snack and didn’t specifically intend to damage the machine is irrelevant. As long as they acted intentionally resulting in property damage, they may be convicted of criminal mischief.
Criminal Mischief Offense Classifications
Depending on the resulting monetary loss from the criminal mischief actions, the charges will vary as follows:
- Class C Misdemeanor: if the monetary loss is >$100 OR the act causes a significant amount of inconvenience to others
- Class B Misdemeanor: if the monetary loss ranges between $100-$750
- Class A Misdemeanor: if the monetary loss ranges between $750-$2.5K OR if the act disrupts or interferes with public water supply in general
- State Felony: if the monetary loss ranges between $2.5K-$30K
- 3rd Degree Felony: the monetary loss ranges between $30K-$150K
- 2nd Degree Felony: the monetary loss ranges between $150K-$300K
- 1st degree Felony: the monetary loss amounts to $300K+
Regardless of the monetary loss stated above, the offense may escalate depending upon the specific property damaged (public monument, place of worship, burial, transportation communication, etc.), if weapons were used, and if livestock was damaged or diseased as a result of the act.
Juvenile Criminal Mischief
Juvenile Courts are designed to be more lenient with young offenders. If an adult were to commit criminal mischief, they would most certainly be facing jail time. When a juvenile commits criminal mischief, jail time is not a certainty. Only if the criminal mischief offense is serious will juveniles face time in a juvenile detention facility.
Additionally, if the offense is exceedingly severe, the State may seek to certify your child as an adult. If this certification occurs, your child will be tried in adult court and face the adult repercussions for the offense. An adult certification is potentially disastrous. Not only are the repercussions demonstrably harsher, but their resulting criminal record will not be protected as a juveniles’ record would. You must retain counsel quickly to avoid adult certification from occurring.
Juvenile Criminal Mischief Repercussions
The repercussions the Court imposes following a criminal mischief conviction vary significantly from case to case. The Court will consider multiple factors to determine the appropriate punishment for each juvenile. While fines and confinement are possibilities, they are not certainties. The repercussions are intentionally subjective to permit leniency. The following punishments could be imposed at the Judge’s discretion:
- Fines: Courts may levy a fine for the offense. These fines differ wildly; a fine could be as little as $500 or as much as serval thousands.
- Restitution: To be paid to the property owner. Additionally, the Judge may require the juvenile to maintain or find employment as part of the restitution order.
- Probation: In instances of criminal mischief, the Court may put the juvenile on probation for 12 months or more. During probation, the juvenile must perform specified tasks, including but not limited to: attending school regularly, maintaining employment, attending counseling sessions, and not committing any additional offenses. Failure to uphold the terms of probation could result in juvenile detention. Furthermore, if the probation is congruent with deferred adjudication and violated, the deferred adjudication is at risk. Meaning, your child could proceed with a criminal record and the resulting difficulty that it presents in adulthood.
- Detention: In the most severe criminal mischief cases, the Court may order the juvenile to serve a sentence at a juvenile detention facility. The sentence could be full-time detention, weekend stays, or a sentence in a juvenile home with enhanced supervision. Typically, juveniles in Texas who face detention for criminal mischief are repeat offenders, or the act or circumstances of the case are particularly egregious.
Retain a Lawyer Immediately
Since Juvenile Courts have broad discretion in how they handle criminal mischief cases, it is important to retain experienced counsel to argue for the best possible outcome. At AZ Law Firm, we believe everyone has the right to a prosperous future, particularly children. We will argue for dismissal of charges or deferred adjudication so your child can proceed into adulthood with a bright future ahead. Call us for a free consultation, and we’ll begin strategizing your child’s defense. We’re here to help.
To find out how we can help you, contact our criminal defense lawyers at 512-400-7070 for Juveniles in Texas criminal mischief defense. We will schedule an initial client consultation to review your case details and lay out a game plan for your juvenile criminal mischief case in Texas. AZ Law Firm will pursue the legal action necessary to secure the fairest possible outcome for you and your loved ones.
- evaluating and explaining to you the pros and cons of your individual case
- discussing with you any available options and our proposed strategies as it relates to your case
- providing guidance and recommendations regarding any proposed settlement offer
- quickly and effectively communicating with you during each step of the process so that you are not left in the dark
- taking your case solely on a contingent fee basis
- and aggressively protecting and defending your rights
We understand times are tough and that there probably hasn’t been a tougher time in your life. Although we could get away with charging exuberant amounts, we prefer not to as we are a law firm by the people, for the people. We do not want you to worry about whether you can afford to hire an attorney to protect and defend your rights. Call us and be surprised at the quality you receive compared to what other law firms will quote you!
Accordingly, the attorneys at AZ Law Firm will always provide you with a free initial consultation. During this initial consultation, our criminal lawyers will evaluate your case, inform you of any legal options that may be available, and allow you to ask any questions that you may have. AZ Law Firm offers affordable rates for all our clients and will work with you on payment plans. Our firm accepts checks, debit cards, and most major credit cards to cover the costs of your legal representation.