Intentionally causing damage to another’s property is serious business in Texas and if convicted, a person could potentially be looking at either a misdemeanor ranging up to a first degree felony. The most often charged property damage crimes in Houston are criminal mischief, arson and graffiti. With both criminal mischief and graffiti, the level of the crime depends entirely on the value of the property damaged.
The crime of arson is a second degree felony except when death occurs or if the property burned is a church. In those cases, it is charged as a first degree felony. Arson in the course of manufacturing drugs is a state jail felony, punishable by 6 months to 2 years in jail.
Arson is exactly what you think it is. A person can be charged if the property set on fire belongs to another person, sits on property belonging to another person, or contains property belonging to another person. An individual can also be charged with arson, despite intent, if he or she recklessly sets a fire or sets off an explosion without regard for the safety of other people or property. This scenario is often applicable to methamphetamine labs in and around Houston.
It is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney like Michael Pham should anyone be charged with arson, perhaps even more so than any other crime, because arson science is constantly evolving. That is death row inmates here in Texas have been released after years of incarceration because the investigative techniques are shoddy and outdated. Mr. Pham will mount a vigorous and aggressive defense, often employing independent experts trained in modern arson science to combat the state’s evidence.
Criminal mischief is knowingly damaging or tampering with another person’s property in way that causes financial loss. For example, “keying” a car or intentionally breaking a window are criminal mischief cases. In addition, should someone damage property unintentionally, but while acting in a reckless manner, it is a Class C misdemeanor. Otherwise, the penalties for a criminal mischief charge depend on the value of the damage. Be advised as well that any form of interruption with a public utility to avoid paying the bill or for any other reason is treated as a criminal mischief charge in Texas, whether there was any property damage or not. Mr. Pham can properly advise you on the value limits of a criminal mischief case in Houston and their associated penalties.
Graffiti is a specific form of property damage case where the damage was caused by use of spray paint, marker or engraving. In those cases, the amount of the damage assessed is based on the value of the property that was defaced. Like criminal mischief, Mr. Pham knows the property value and punishment tables, and he can properly advise on what types of punishment and defenses are available in a graffiti case.
Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney like Mr. Pham can often make the difference between incarceration, probation and freedom. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges for any property damage offense, and want an experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer, contact Houston attorney Michael H. Pham at (713) 236-7791.