The severity and the extent of damage on a co-owned or another person’s real or personal property determine whether it is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. Children below 18 can also be charged and detained for these charges, and bear the consequences way into their adulthood.

The steps you take as soon as charges are brought against you or a loved one determine your/their fate in Colorado. A Denver criminal defense attorney that understands the laws on criminal mischief and has experience in the corridors of justice is a great asset to achieving the best outcome.

How Can I Determine If My Actions Amount to Criminal Mischief?

The property damage doesn’t have to be intentional for you to be convicted of criminal mischief in Denver. You only need to be reasonably aware that your actions can result in some property damage.

For example, a young man could be driving his first car in a parking lot for fun. He is driving fast and doing donuts, which is giving him the satisfaction he has always gotten from video games. Minutes later, the car crashes into a building resulting in some damage.

The young man was having fun and did not intend to crash into the building. However, that does not relieve him from possible charges. Additionally, it is common knowledge that driving too fast can cause accidents and damage property. Therefore, he was reasonably aware of this possibility.

So, the mere fact that the event that caused the damage was an accident is not a viable defense – unless your Denver criminal mischief lawyer convinces the prosecution or the court that you would not know that property damage would occur.

How Can I Defend Myself Against Criminal Mischief Charges?

You can achieve a positive outcome for a criminal mischief charge through various approaches. A Denver criminal mischief lawyer can help you choose a defense that applies to your specific case. Here are some of the angles that defendants can build a defense from:

Involuntary Intoxication

Both children and adults can be victims of involuntary intoxication. This happens when you are forced and threatened into intoxication. Thus, your actions during the impairment should not be held against you.

Wrongful Imprisonment

You might have a defense if you destroyed property after being held against your will. This is common in domestic violence incidences where you had to damage some windows to escape and find safety.

Choice of Evils

It is possible to argue that your action was the best decision based on the circumstances. For example, this would apply when a teenager is pressured to commit a crime and had to choose between breaking & entering and vandalizing.

Exaggerated Damages

The prosecutor can inflate figures to imply that you caused more damage than you actually did. To protect you from facing higher charges than is necessary, your attorney can collect evidence to show the actual damage.


Protecting yourself when being attacked can involve throwing things at the attacker. And an act of self-defense that resulted in property damage should not be treated as criminal mischief.

Insanity or Impaired Mental State

PTSD, emotional anguish and trauma can alter one’s state of mind. You cannot be convicted if you acted in this state.

Mistaken Identity

A property owner may have had a vendetta against you and can try to incriminate you. Also, the description of the culprit might match yours, yet you are not guilty.

Can I Take Steps to Seal a Criminal Mischief Record in Denver?

If your Denver criminal mischief lawyer convinces the prosecution or the court to dismiss your charges, you can have the records sealed immediately. When a conviction is inevitable, you can still seal your records depending on the type of conviction.

Convicts of Class 2 misdemeanor have to wait for two years after the case is closed to seal a criminal record. If the property damage was $500 to $1,000, your Class 1 misdemeanor record can only be sealed three years after the case was closed.

Unfortunately, you cannot seal a criminal mischief record if it is convicted as a Class 3 or 4 felonies. Thus, it is wise to work with a skilled lawyer that will strive to have your case scaled down from a felony to a misdemeanor – and allow you to seal the record when you want to.

Should I Hire an Attorney When Facing Criminal Mischief Charges?

A skilled and experienced criminal mischief attorney in Denver is instrumental to your freedom or the improved outcome of your case. Usually, the consequences of a criminal mischief conviction are negatively life-changing. Defendants risk:

  • Paying restitution
  • Probation
  • Fines
  • Prison/jail

Apart from the above penalties, your life can change for the worst. You may have to deal with:

  • Ineligibility for certain government benefits like housing
  • Inability to vote for the period you will be in jail
  • Difficulty securing employment
  • Inability to serve in certain positions of trust
  • Lost right to own firearms

Retaining an experienced lawyer from the early stages of your case can make a difference. Sometimes, you won’t even have to appear in court. Instead, your legal team can negotiate with the prosecution and convince them to dismiss the case.

Notably, the prosecution strives to give defendants the highest possible penalty for their charges. And some can go to the extent of overestimating the value of the damage caused. However, the right criminal defense attorney cannot allow that to happen.

A Criminal Justice Attorney Protecting Your Rights

Every accused person has rights that should not be violated. For instance, law enforcers must follow certain procedures when arresting you. Remember, they should not pester you into giving them information after you have expressed your preference to remain silent until your attorney arrives. Your legal team can use such loopholes to negotiate better outcomes.

Daniel M. Murphy has been doing criminal defense work since 1996. And before that, he worked in the public defender’s office as a lawyer. His familiarity with the state’s judicial system can be advantageous for your case. Call 303-996-8998 for aggressive legal representation in Denver.

Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.