Colorado Vandalism Laws

Vandalism is a term that refers to the destruction, defacing, or damaging of public or private property. Colorado vandalism laws generally refer to vandalism as "criminal mischief," which they define as the knowing damage of real or personal property of another. This includes graffiti. Even really nice graffiti.

That said, if you have permission to paint a mural, this wouldn't amount to criminal mischief. Vandalism is also an intentional crime. If you accidentally defaced someone's property it would not be charged as criminal mischief. You might still be liable under civil law, but not as a criminal matter.

Vandalism is often committed by minors. Those under 18 years of age are charged and tried in the juvenile justice system. Juvenile offenses may be punished with restitution, fines, probation, or diversion. Detention is less likely, but possible.

Punishment for vandalism focuses largely on the amount of damage involved, though Colorado judges will also take into account whether you have a history of vandalism or other offenses and may offer reduced penalties for first offenders. In some circumstances the judge may order the offender to clean up the property, if this is possible. The offender may also lose their drivers license for a period of time determined by the court, or sentenced to community service.

Most cases of vandalism, however, are punished under Colorado vandalism laws as shown in the following chart:

Statute Colorado Revised Code, Title 18, Article 4, Part 5
Penalties

Colorado vandalism laws are penalized differently depending on the aggregate amount of damage to property as follows:

  • Under $300 - Class 3 misdemeanor punishable with up to 6 months imprisonment and/or $50-$750 in fines;
  • $300-$750 - Class 2 misdemeanor punishable with 3-12 months imprisonment and/or $250-$1,000 in fines;
  • $750-$1,000 - Class 1 misdemeanor punishable with 6-18 months imprisonment and/or $500-$5,000 in fines;
  • $1,000-$5,000 - Class 6 felony punishable with 12-18 months imprisonment and/or $1,000-$100,000 in fines;
  • $5,000-$20,000 - Class 5 felony punishable with 1-3 years imprisonment and/or $1,000-$100,000 in fines;
  • $20,000-$100,000 - Class 4 felony punishable with 2-6 years imprisonment and/or $2,000-$500,000 in fines;
  • $100,000-$1,000,000 - Class 3 felony punishable with 4-12 years imprisonment and/or $3,000-$750,000 in fines;
  • Over $1,000,000 - Class 2 felony punishable with 8-24 years imprisonment and/or $5,000-$1,000,000 in fines.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources

If you would like to learn more about vandalism and Colorado vandalism laws, the following links provide additional information:

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