Criminal mischief in Texas is the intentional destruction, tampering with, or damaging of another person’s property. It can consist of making marks, graffiti, inscriptions, drawings and the like on another’s property. Generally, criminal mischief can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the seriousness of the facts and upon the value of the property damage.
The Waco Police have had their hands full investigating and making criminal mischief arrests. They recently arrested seven individuals, both adults and juveniles, who are charged with shooting out windows with BB guns. The police have been investigating many similar cases in the area, but with respect to the seven persons arrested, they report having an eyewitness who saw the acts being committed and reported it to the police.
From that report, officers allegedly stopped a stolen van and arrested the seven occupants. They report that they found BB guns and stolen car stereos in the van. Although the press reports do not reveal whether the arrests were made as misdemeanors or felonies, they are likely misdemeanor charges. The complicating factor, however, is that the police also charged the seven with an organized criminal activity.
Organized criminal activity in Texas is an additional charge over and above the underlying charge, which here is criminal mischief. The organized criminal activity charge is reserved for street gangs and group criminal enterprises. If guilt is proved beyond a reasonable doubt, there is a one-degree increase in the underlying charge.
In that manner, what may have originally been classified as a misdemeanor criminal mischief may end up being a felony if both crimes are proved under Texas law. The offense consists generally of three or more individuals working together to continuously commit criminal offenses as a group. The prosecutor must prove not only the underlying criminal mischief charge but also that it was committed as part of a street gang that is continually involved in criminal actions. If, however, the seven people in the van had never engaged in such activities before, that would be a good defense to the organized crime charge.
Source: kxxv.com, “Seven arrested for criminal mischief“, Dec. 1, 2016