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Penalties for Vandalism in Texas

The word “vandalism” often makes people think of writing graffiti on walls and lockers, destroying someone’s bicycle, breaking someone’s smartphone, egging someone’s car, and destroying mailboxes with a bat – these are all forms of vandalism because they each involve intentionally destroying another person’s property.

In Texas, vandalism is called “criminal mischief,” though the terms vandalism and criminal mischief are often used interchangeably. Criminal mischief is covered under Section 28.03 of the Texas Penal Code.

Under Sec. 28.03(a) it explains how a person commits the offense if, without the property owner’s consent, he intentionally or knowingly damages or destroys the owner’s property, or knowingly and intentionally tampers with the person’s property and causes “pecuniary loss” to the owner or a third person.

By “pecuniary loss,” it means “financial loss.” For example, suppose a 10th grade girl had borrowed her sister’s brand-new Nikes for PE and a senior at the school took a box cutter to the Nikes, destroying the $70.00 sneakers. Even though the shoes technically belonged to the 10th grader’s sister, the girl who destroyed them can be prosecuted under Sec. 28.03 of the Penal Code.

Related: Parental Responsibility Laws in Texas

Criminal Mischief Under Texas Law

Criminal mischief can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the amount of financial loss to the property owner.

  • It is a Class C misdemeanor if the financial loss was under $100.
  • It is a Class B misdemeanor if the financial loss was $100 or more, but under $750.
  • It is a Class A misdemeanor if the financial loss was $750 or more, but under $2,500.
  • It is a state jail felony if the financial loss ranged from $2,500 to less than $30,000.
  • It is a state jail felony if the loss was under $2,500, but an explosive weapon damaged or destroyed the property, which was a residence.
  • It is a felony of the third degree if the financial loss was $30,000 or more, but less than $150,000.

Note: Criminal mischief can also be charged as a second or degree felony based on the amount of financial loss. However, the loss would have to exceed $150,000.

To see the penalties for misdemeanors and felonies in Texas, click here.

If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges, contact our firm to meet with a Plano criminal defense attorney.