Criminal mischief is considered quite common in Texas. According to Texas Penal Code Section 28.03, criminal mischief occurs when an individual intentionally damages or destroys property, tampers with property, causes substantial inconvenience to the property owner, or creates markings of some kind on an owner’s property. Texas calls it criminal mischief, where other states charge as vandalism and malicious destruction of property, such as graffiti.


Criminal Mischief in Texas has several levels covering everything from the lowest misdemeanor up to a first-degree felony. Generally, the punishment for this offense is decided by the monetary damage. Examples include damage to, or destruction or defacement of:

  • Motor vehicle and their windshields, gas tanks, or tires;
  • Residences and their walls, windows, roof, decks, or garages;
  • Businesses and their signs and displays;
  • Trade tools and equipment;
  • Mailboxes, gates, and fences;
  • Lawn ornaments, garden walls, greenhouses and related equipment
  • Playgrounds and recreational equipment

It is important to note that individuals cannot be convicted of criminal mischief who damage their own property unless they share ownership with someone else.


As previously stated, punishment for the offense is generally decided by the monetary damage. There are some cases where it is possible to get the charge dismissed in exchange for repair or repayment of the property damage to the owner.

Below are the ranges for punishment:


Texas law offers several defenses to criminal mischief. Consent, mistake of fact, and necessity are three defenses that Texas law recognizes and that may especially apply to a criminal mischief charge. Just because you or someone you know may be facing a criminal mischief charge does not mean a conviction is likely. A knowledgable criminal defense attorney can explain the law and the potential consequences. Contact Attorney Shane Lewis today if you are ready to find out your legal options.