Dallas Property Offenses
Criminal Defense Attorney in Dallas
Just because a crime does not result in injury to the victim does not mean it is a less serious offense. Crimes regarding property can also result in time behind bars as well as heavy fines. The Texas Penal Code §§7.28.01-7.28.08 (2011) gives detailed information regarding the major property crimes, including arson, criminal mischief, and damage and destruction to property. From burning down a building to painting graffiti on someone else's property, the penalties will differ depending on the monetary loss suffered by the victim as well as if anyone was injured in the process. Therefore, no matter what, you need a strong Dallas criminal defense lawyer on your side.
Property offenses will also differ depending on the type of property that was targeted. A habitation is any dwelling where people can stay overnight, such as a home, recreational vehicle, or hotel. A building is a structure which is used for commercial reasons rather than living in. When these laws refer to property, it could be speaking of anything from money to belongings to intangible property: anything which holds value. Any type of vehicle could also be targeted in a property crime as could open land like forests or grasslands.
Arson, Criminal Mischief & Property Damage
Arson is defined as starting a fire with the intent to destroy or damage the property. As long as the fire was ignited, it does not matter whether or not the fire continues to burn: the suspect could still be convicted of this crime merely for starting the fire. A person could be convicted of arson if they set fire to an open space, a building or inhabited dwelling, a vehicle, or other forms of property. The reasons for committing arson range from insurance purposes to mortgage fraud to endangering the life of another. Arson is always prosecuted as a felony offense due to the fact that it could lead to bodily injury or death, even if this was not the intent of the perpetrator. Charges of arson will be enhanced from a second degree felony to a first degree felony if anyone was injured or killed due to the fire or if the structure targeted was a place of worship.
What is criminal mischief? Under this section of law, it is intentionally damaging or destroying the property of another without the permission of the owner. Making markings on their property, tampering with the property, or destroying the property in any way which leads to pecuniary loss to the owner could lead to a conviction. The penalties and charges for criminal mischief will vary based on the financial damage caused to the owner.
- Class C Misdemeanor: Less than $50
- Class B Misdemeanor: $50 - $500
- Class A Misdemeanor: $500 - $1,500
- State Jail Felony: $1,500 - $20,000
- Third Degree Felony: $20,000 - $100,000
- Second Degree Felony: $100,000 - $200,000
- First Degree Felony: $200,000 and above
Graffiti has become a part of cities and towns across the country. However, just because this is such a common occurrence does not mean that it does not come without consequences. Graffiti is defined as purposefully making markings or inscriptions on someone else's property. This could be with paint or markers, or could be an engraving or etching. Again, as with criminal mischief, the penalties will vary based on the financial damage that occurred as a result of the graffiti. The charges will increase to a state jail felony if the markings were made on a school, church, graveyard, public monument, or hospital. Those accused of these crimes need to get in touch with a strong defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact a Dallas criminal lawyer from our firm if you have questions regarding this issue.