In Colorado, there are five categories of offenses against property:

  1. Arson
  2. Burglary
  3. Robbery
  4. Theft
  5. Trespass, Tampering, Criminal Mischief 

 

 

Arson

Using fire to damage a structure or other property is arson. Four degrees of arson exist which vary in severity depending on the mental state of the arsonist, the damage caused by the fire and the occupancy of the structure. Arson which is initiated through the use of explosives is classified as a violent crime, subjecting the perpetrator to mandatory sentencing for violent crimes. C.R.S. § 18-1.3-406. If the fire places others in substantial risk of serious bodily injury or death, the defendant may be prosecuted for attempted murder charges in addition to the charge of arson.

A structure includes all buildings created for the purpose of sheltering people, animals, or property. It also includes buildings used for business. A tenant who sets fire to their rented building is liable for having damaged the property interests of the owner of that building. People v. Brown, 622 P.2d 573, 576 (Colo.App. 1980). Under certain circumstances, damage to the arsonist’s own property may subject them to charges. The Supreme Court of Colorado held a defendant guilty of first-degree arson after knowingly burning a motor home, even though the defendant possessed its legal title. People ex rel. VanMeveren v. Dist. Court In & For Larimer Cty., 619 P.2d 494 (Colo. 1980).

A prosecutor has discretion when charging arson which damaged multiple categories of properties. In Billings v. People, the court did not find error when the prosecutor charged second degree arson instead of first. 466 P.2d 474, 478 (Colo. 1970). The fire in question began in the dwelling/home unit of a building and spread to the business portion, containing a liquor store. Id. While the court acknowledged the circumstances surrounding the fire could support either charge, they allowed the prosecutor’s discretion on the matter to stand. Id.

The majority of evidence used to prove arson is typically circumstantial, rather than direct. A defendant’s recent increase in insurance, a lack of effort displayed in calling the fire department, and being the sole possessor of keys belonging to the property have been held as sufficient evidence for a charge of first degree arson. People v. Elkhatib, 632 P.2d 275 (Colo. 1981).

Fourth Degree Arson:

Fourth degree arson involves a person knowingly or recklessly starting or maintaining a fire or explosion which either places another person in danger of death or serious bodily injury, or places a building in danger of damage. C.R.S. § 18-4-105(1). This could take place on the property of another, or on the actor’s own land. The prosecution does not need to prove the person who started the fire had an intent to endanger a victim in order to charge fourth degree arson. Copeland v. People, 2 P.3d 1283 (Colo. 2000).

Third Degree Arson:

The charge increases to arson in the third degree if the person who started the fire or caused the explosion intentionally damages property with the goal of defrauding the true owner of the property. C.R.S. § 18-4-104(1).

Second Degree Arson:

 If a person knowingly sets fire to, burns, or uses explosives to damage or destroy any property, other than a building or occupied structure, without the property owner’s consent, they have committed second degree arson. C.R.S. § 18-4-103(1).

First Degree Arson:

First degree arson occurs if a person knowingly sets fire to, burns, or uses explosives to damage or destroy any building or occupied structure without the property owner’s consent.  C.R.S. § 18-4-102(1). Arson in the first degree applies only to dwellings and other designated structures, and does not include a business building. However, even a piece of property or simple enclosure can be deemed an occupied structure if it was possible for people or animals to use it as a shelter on any occasion, regardless of whether or not it was being used as such at the time of the fire.

Possible Penalties:

  • Fourth degree arson is a class 3 misdemeanor if damages are $100 or less. C.R.S. § 18-4-105(4).
  • Fourth degree arson is a class 2 misdemeanor if damages are $100 or more. C.R.S. § 18-4-105(3).
  • Fourth degree arson which endangers another is a class 4 felony. C.R.S. § 18-4-105(2).
  • Third degree arson is a class 4 felony. C.R.S. § 18-4-104(2).
  • Second degree arson is a class 2 misdemeanor if damages are $100 or less. C.R.S. § 18-4-103(3).
  • Second degree arson is a class 4 felony if damages are $100 or more. C.R.S. § 18-4-103(2).
  • First degree arson is a class 3 felony. C.R.S. § 18-4-102(2).

Possible Defenses

In Colorado, the government has a high burden of proof in order to charge arson; the prosecution must prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. There must be evidence directly tying a defendant to a fire in order to prosecute. Typically, the majority of direct evidence will have been destroyed during the fire, making insufficient evidence linking the crime to the defendant a likely defense option. An expert scientific witness used by the defense can often provide valuable testimony in support of this argument.

 The defense of accident may also be used to rebut a charge of arson. If a person did not intend the fire to occur, they are guilty of nothing more than being negligent and should not be charged with the crime of arson.

Mistaken identity may also be a valid defense. An eye-witness may have confused the defendant on trial with the person who actually started the fire. The testimony of an alibi who was with the defendant at the time of the initiation of the fire is often extremely helpful in a mistaken identity or impossibility defense.

There is also a defense available specifically to farmers using fire as a means to control their land. If a person sets fire to their own property in order to clear existing crop residue, kill weeds, reduce fuel buildup, or reduce the likelihood of a future fire, they are immune from the charge of arson. This type of burn is called an agricultural burn and cannot be charged criminally as long as no person suffered bodily injury or death as a result of the fire. C.R.S. § 18-4-105(5),(6).


Burglary

In Colorado, a person who enters a building without permission, or remains after permission has expired, while possessing the intention to commit a crime once inside the building is guilty of burglary. In its most basic sense, burglary is a form of trespass that is coupled with an intent to commit a crime. While burglary is often associated with theft, stealing is not a necessary element of the crime. The burglar’s intended crime may be one against another person or actual property; a burglar may break into a building in order to assault the resident or vandalize property. The crime of trespass does not qualify as an underlying crime to burglary.

While the prosecution will typically have to prove the defendant possessed the intent to commit a crime before entering the building, there is an exception for those who have violated a restraining order. In the context of a violated restraining order it will not matter if the defendant intended to commit a crime once inside the building; they have already done so by entering.

It may be possible for the prosecution to use circumstantial evidence alone in order to charge burglary if they can make a showing that burglary was committed, goods were stolen during the burglary, and articles which were stolen were found in the possession of the defendant shortly after the burglary occurred. People v. McClendon, 533 P.2d 923 (Colo. 1975). The Supreme Court of Colorado found in People v. Haggart that evidence of a getaway car containing stolen goods was sufficient to convict the driver of burglary. 533 P.2d 488 (Colo. 1975). Possession of burglary tools may be considered as evidence of the crime as well, but it must be proven first that a burglary actually occurred. Wilcox v. People, 380 P.2d 912 (Colo. 1963).

A burglary sentence may be enhanced by specific factors of the invasion, such as if the burglar was armed or if the structure entered was a home.  If the burglar intended to steal a controlled substance from a pharmacy or other business which had legal possession of the controlled substance, the crime’s punishment also increases in severity. There are three degrees of burglary, as well as the separately punishable crime of possession of burglary tools.

Possession of Burglary Tools:

A person may be charged with possession of burglary tools regardless of if the tools were ever actually used to commit a crime. In order to be correctly convicted for possession of burglary tools, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant not only possessed the explosives, tools or other instruments commonly used to break and enter a dwelling, but that he or she possessed an intent to use the tools to commit a burglary. People v. Ridgeway, 2013 COA 17. A conviction may also be based upon the possessor of the tools intending to share them with someone who plans to use them for burglarious purposes. People v. Chastain, 733 P.2d 1206 (Colo. 1987).

Third Degree Burglary:

If a person breaks into a vault, safe, cash register, vending machine, product dispenser, coin telephone, or other sort of locked box, with the intent to commit a crime, they have committed third degree burglary. C.R.S. § 18-4-204(1).

Second Degree Burglary:

A person commits second degree burglary if they knowingly enter or remain in a building or occupied structure with the intent of committing a crime while in the building. C.R.S. § 18-4-203(1).To charge second degree burglary, the structure broken into does not necessarily need to have been an occupied dwelling. Id.  However, burglary of a dwelling is a sentence enhancer within second-degree burglary. The term dwelling is construed loosely; even a home under renovation that is intended to be used for habitation in the future may be deemed a dwelling. People v. Morales, 2012 COA 2.

First Degree Burglary:

The charge of first degree burglary requires proving all of the same elements of second degree burglary, with the added requirement that the defendant possessed, used, or threatened to use a deadly weapon or other explosive while entering, inside, or immediately fleeing the building. C.R.S. § 18-4-202(1). There is no requirement for the prosecution to show the defendant actually assaulted or menaced anyone as long as it is shown that the defendant was in possession of a deadly weapon. People v. Haggart, 533 P.2d 488 (Colo. 1975).  The possession need not have occurred before entering; the burglar may enter unarmed and then steal firearms or other weapon once inside the structure. People v. Loomis, 857 P.2d 478 (Colo.App. 1992). Armed, in the context of first-degree burglary, means if the weapon was easily accessible.  Id. There is no requirement for the prosecution to prove the defendant was willing or able to use the firearm, just that it was available. Id. In order to qualify as the immediate flight stage of the crime, the action must be close in time to the entry of the building and the actual crime which took place inside. People v. Fuentes, 258 P.3d 320 (Colo.App. 2011).

Possible Penalties:

  • Possession of burglary tools is a class 5 felony. C.R.S. § 18-4-205(2).
  • Third degree burglary is a class 5 felony resulting in a prison sentence of up to 3 years and up to $100,000 in fines. C.R.S. § 18-4-204(2).
  • Third degree burglary of a controlled substance is a class 4 felony. C.R.S. § 18-4-204(2).
  • Second degree burglary of a building or business is a class 4 felony resulting in a prison sentence of up to 6 years and up to $500,000 in fines. C.R.S. § 18-4-203(2).
  • Second degree burglary of a dwelling is a class 3 felony. C.R.S. § 18-4-203(2)(a).
  • Second degree burglary of a controlled substance is a class 3 felony resulting in a prison sentence ranging from 6-12 years. C.R.S. § 18-4-203(2)(b).
  • First degree burglary is a class 3 felony resulting in a prison sentence ranging from 4-12 years and up to $750,000 in fines. C.R.S. § 18-4-202(2).
  • First degree burglary of a controlled substance is a class 2 felony. C.R.S. § 18-4-202(3)

Possible Defense:

In order to constitute burglary, an intent to commit a crime must be present at the very moment the defendant trespasses. People v. Fuentes, 258 P.3d 320 (Colo.App. 2011). If the defendant did not decide to break the law until after entering a place, they possess a strong defense to the charge of burglary. 


Robbery

Robbery is committed when a person knowingly takes something of value from another.  C.R.S. § 18-4-301(1). There are two classes of robbery, simple and aggravated.

Simple Robbery:

Simple robbery involves the use of force, threats, or intimidation to knowingly take something of value from another.

Aggravated Robbery:

Aggravated robbery requires the additional presence of a deadly weapon at the time of the robbery, or during the aftermath, as well as the intent of the offender to wound, maim, or kill the person being robbed should they resist. If the defendant puts anyone besides the intended victim in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury, this will also suffice as evidence of aggravated robbery. People v. Borghesi, 66 P.3d 93, 97 (Colo. 2003).

The definition of a deadly weapon is a subjective one; being armed with a weapon which is reasonably and seemingly deadly may be enough to increase the charge of robbery to an aggravated offense. C.R.S. § 18-4-302(1). If the defendant actually strikes the victim with a weapon, the charge will likely be one of aggravated robbery. An accomplice’s possession of a deadly weapon may also be extended to all members of his or her party, if they are acting on concert. It is not necessary that the defendant actually possess the weapon during the commission of the robbery, they may be charged with aggravated robbery stemming from a finding that the robber possessed the weapon during the immediate flight stage after the crime. People v. Badhawk, 761 P.2d 753, 756 (Colo. 1988).

Possible Penalties:

  • Simple robbery is a class 4 felony. C.R.S. § 18-4-301(2).
  • Aggravated robbery is a class 3 felony and is an extraordinary risk crime subject to the modified presumptive sentencing range specified in C.R.S. § 18-1.3-401(10):
  • If the crime is a class 6 felony, the maximum sentence in the presumptive range shall be increased by 6 months.
  • If the crime is a class 5 felony, the maximum sentence in the presumptive range shall be increased by 1 year.
  • If the crime is a class 4 felony, the maximum sentence in the presumptive range shall be increased by 2 years.
  • If the crime is a class 3 felony, the maximum sentence in the presumptive range shall be increased by 4 years.
  • Aggravated robbery of a controlled substance is a class 2 felony. C.R.S. §18-4-303(2).

Possible Defenses:

In order to be charged with robbery, the defendant must have done the taking knowingly. If the defendant can show that they took the item on accident, or because they thought they had permission, this may provide a defense to the charge.

If charged with aggravated robbery, a defendant may attempt to lessen the charge to simple robbery. Circumstantial evidence could be presented to show that it would have been impossible for the alleged victim to reasonably believe the defendant had a deadly weapon. 


Theft

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theft occurs when one knowingly obtains, retains, or controls an item without authorization, by threat or through deception, with the intent to permanently deprive another of something of value, or to receive some sort of payment upon return of the property.  C.R.S. § 18-4-401(a). The charge of theft encompasses many types of unlawful acts; theft may be committed if a person receives, loans or disposes of anything they know or believe to have been stolen. C.R.S. § 18-4-401(1). Theft can also occur through fraudulent returns to businesses or from tricking others into giving up property or money and not following through on the promised return of payment. Larceny, grand larceny and embezzlement are all incorporated into the crime of theft. A defendant may also be charged with theft for failing to return an item after the agreed-upon time of return lapsed. Typically, there is a seventy-two hour grace period associated with a lease or hire agreement before theft may be charged. C.R.S. § 18-4-401(1)(e).

Multiple thefts committed by the same person within a six-month time period will be joined and prosecuted as a single crime. Roberts v. People, 203 P.3d 513, 516 (Colo. 2009). Likewise, similar thefts committed against the same victim may be charged as a single infraction. People v. Gardner, 250 P.3d 1262 (Colo.App. 2010). The total value of the items stolen will be used to determine sentencing of the defendant.   

Sentencing for theft cases vary depending on the value of what was stolen, as well as the manner in which it was taken from the true owner. Someone who steals something impulsively, such as a candy bar in a gas station, will most likely be given a less severe sentence than someone who puts planning and a lot of thought into their act. While theft charges are typically based on the value of the damage involved, theft done through any means other than force, threat or intimidation, such as pick-pocketing, is always a class 5 felony. C.R.S. § 18-4-401(5). Stealing from at-risk adults, children, or someone who has placed trust in the perpetrator will also be treated more severely.

Possible Penalties:

  • If the property stolen is valued at less than $50, it is a class 1 petty offense punishable by up to 6 months in jail and up to $500 in fines. C.R.S. § 18-4-401(2)(b).
  • If the property stolen is valued at $50-$299.99, it is a class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and up to $750 in fines. C.R.S. § 18-4-401(2)(c).
  • If the property stolen is valued between $300-$749.99, it is a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines. C.R.S. § 18-4-401(2)(d).
  • If the property stolen is valued between $750-$1,999.99, it is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 1.5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. C.R.S. § 18-4-401(2)(e).
  • If the property stolen is valued between $2,000-$4,999.99, it is a class 6 felony punishable by up to 1.5 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. C.R.S. § 18-4-401(2)(f).
  • If the property stolen is valued between $5,000-$19,999.99, it is a class 5 felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. C.R.S. § 18-4-401(2)(g).
  • If the property stolen is valued between $20,000-$99,999.99, it is a class 4 felony punishable by up to 6 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines. C.R.S. § 18-4-401(2)(h).
  • If the property stolen is valued between $100,000-$999,999.99, it is a class 3 felony punishable by up to 12 years in prison and up to $750,000 in fines. C.R.S. § 18-4-401(2)(i).
  • If the property stolen is valued at $1,000,000 or more, it is a class 2 felony punishable by up to 24 years in prison and up to $1,000,000 in fines. C.R.S. § 18-4-401(2)(j).

Possible Defenses:

The prosecutor must prove the defendant never intended to return the item in question to the true owner in order to charge theft. Because of this, a defendant may be able to argue that they did not intend to permanently deprive the alleged victim of any property; they were planning on returning the items eventually. Borrowing is not a criminal act in Colorado, even if the owner of the item was not even aware it had been taken.

A possible defense to the charge of theft by receiving is lack of knowledge. If a defendant had no knowledge that the items they were given had previously been stolen, they may be able to fight this charge.

 


Trespass, Tampering, Criminal Mischief

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trespass:

A person commits the crime of criminal trespass when they unlawfully enter or remain in a dwelling or vehicle with the intent to commit a crime. There are three degrees of the offense which vary depending on what land or property was entered and the intent of the perpetrator once on that land. Other aspects of the crime may also increase the severity of the sentencing. If the property on which the perpetrator trespasses is designated agricultural land by the county assessor, this will increase the gravity of the charge. If the defendant trespasses on agricultural land with the intent to commit a crime, the punishment becomes even harsher. If the trespass involves entering a vehicle, the resulting charge will often include the revocation of the the perpetrator’s driver’s license. C.R.S. § 18-4-503(3).

Third Degree Criminal Trespass:

Third degree criminal trespass involves a person unlawfully entering or remaining on another’s property. C.R.S. § 18-4-504(1). The actor’s intent is irrelevant.  

Second Degree Criminal Trespass:

The charge is increased to second degree criminal trespass when a person enters or remains in an area clearly designed to exclude intruders, such as a piece of property encompassed by a fence, or the common area of a business, hotel or apartment building. C.RS. § 18-4-503(1).

First Degree Criminal Trespass:

The crime becomes first degree criminal trespass if the perpetrator knowingly and unlawfully enters or remains in a dwelling of another. C.R.S. § 18-4-502. First degree criminal trespass also occurs if a person enters a motor vehicle with an intent to commit a crime once inside. Id.

Possible Penalties:

  • Third degree criminal trespass is a class 1 petty offense. C.R.S. § 18-4-503(2).
  • Third degree criminal trespass on agricultural land is a class 3 misdemeanor. C.R.S. § 18-4-504(2)(a).
  • Third degree criminal trespass on agricultural land with the intent to commit a felony is a class 5 felony. C.R.S. § 18-4-504(2)(b).
  • Second degree criminal trespass is a class 3 misdemeanor. C.R.S. § 18-4-503(2).
  • Second degree criminal trespass on agricultural land is a class 2 misdemeanor. C.RS. § 18-4-503(2)(a).
  • Second degree criminal trespass on agricultural land with the intent to commit a felony is a class 4 felony. C.RS. § 18-4-503(2)(b).
  • First degree criminal trespass is a class 5 felony. C.R.S. §18-4-502.

Possible Defenses:

Mistake may be used as a valid defense to the charge of criminal trespass. The defendant may be able to make a showing that they were not aware they were on the property of another, or that they had not realized their permission to be there had expired.

 Licensed professional land surveyors are also protected from the charge of trespass. The defendant may make this argument as long as they provided notice of the survey, containing the identity of the surveyor, and are either a licensed professional land surveyor or under the direct supervision of such. C.R.S. § 18-4-515.

 

Tampering:

Criminal tampering involves intentionally affecting the property of another. There are two degrees of criminal tampering that someone may be charged with as well as particular penalties for tampering with specified items. The tampering may draw a specific penalty if the item tampered with is associated with oil or gas gathering. C.R.S.A. § 18-4-506.3. Specific variations also exist for defacing monuments.

 

Second Degree Criminal Tampering:

Second degree criminal tampering occurs when a person tampers with the property of another with the intention to cause injury or annoyance to the other person. C.R.S. § 18-4-506. Second degree criminal tampering also occurs when a person knowingly makes an unauthorized connection with the property of a utility. Id.

 

First Degree Criminal Tampering:

First degree criminal tampering is committed when a person tampers with property of a utility or institution with the intent to cause some sort of interruption or impairment of health or safety services. C.R.S. § 18-4-505.

 

Possible Penalties:

  • Second degree criminal tampering is a class 2 misdemeanor. C.R.S. § 18-4-506.
  • Criminal tampering with an equipment associated with oil or gas gathering operations is a class 2 misdemeanor. C.R.S. § 18-4-506.5(1).
  • Criminal tampering involving the altering of a gas, water, or electricity meter is a class 2 misdemeanor. C.R.S. § 18-4-506.5(2).
  • First degree criminal tampering is a class 1 misdemeanor. C.R.S. § 18-4-505.

Possible Defenses:

As criminal tampering requires an intentional mindset, accident or mistake may be used as a valid defense to the charge. Perhaps the defendant did not realize their actions would result in damage to another’s property, or maybe the defendant did not even realize the property in question belonged to another.

Certain qualified professionals possess immunity to the charge of criminal tampering. Licensed electrical or plumbing contractors performing usual and ordinary services in accordance with recognized customs and standards should not be charged with criminal tampering. C.R.S. § 18-4-506.5(3). If a person has filed a monument record pursuant to article 53 of title 38, C.R.S. they cannot be convicted of defacing, destroying, or removing landmarks, monuments or accessories. C.R.S. § 18-4-508(2).

Criminal Mischief:

 

A person commits criminal mischief if they knowingly damage the real or personal property of another. C.R.S. § 18-4-501(1). This includes property owned by the defendant jointly with another person. Id. Maliciousness is not a necessary element of the offense. People v. Cisneros, 566 P.2d 703 (Colo. 1977). The property in question may be deemed to belong to another even if they are not the true owner but rather simply the person in possession of the property at the time of the event. People v. Johnson, 585 P.2d 306, 307–08 (Colo.App. 1978). The Colorado Court of Appeals in People v. Schliesser held evidence showing a victim was the lawful user and possessor of a truck damaged by the defendant was sufficient to sustain a conviction for criminal mischief, despite the fact that the truck’s title was in the name of the victim’s wife. Id. While criminal mischief is often charged in response to vandalism, it is also charged in cases of domestic violence when one person damages part of the home they share with their spouse.

The value of the damage caused by the defendant typically dictates the severity of the charge. If several items are damages, the aggregate value of all will be used. The actual value of an item is generally determined by market value. People v. Marques, 184 Colo. 262, 520 P.2d 113 (1974). If this cannot be determined, the court will look to the original cost of the item, replacement cost, and salvage value retained by the damaged item. People v. Dunoyair, 660 P.2d 890 (Colo.1983). In People v. Dobson, the defendant was prosecuted for illegally hunting several elk. 847 P.2d 176, 180 (Colo.App. 1992). The court looked at evidence of the cost of elk hunting licenses as well as the fact that most hunters kill elk to eat the meat in order to determine the intrinsic value of the elk. Id.

 

Possible Penalties:

  • Criminal mischief is a class 3 misdemeanor when the damage is $299 or less. C.R.S. § 18-4-501(4)(a).
  • Criminal mischief is a class 2 misdemeanor when the damage is between $300-$749.99. C.R.S. § 18-4-501(4)(b).
  • Criminal mischief is a class 1 misdemeanor when the damage is between $750-$999.99. C.R.S. § 18-4-501(4)(c).
  • Criminal mischief is a class 6 felony when the damage is between $1,000-$499,999.99. C.R.S. § 18-4-501(4)(d).
  • Criminal mischief is a class 5 felony when the damage is between $5,000-$19,999.99. C.R.S. § 18-4-501(4)(e).
  • Criminal mischief is a class 4 felony when the damage is between $20,000-$99,999.99. C.R.S. § 18-4-501(4)(f).
  • Criminal mischief is a class 3 felony when the damage is between $100,000-$99,999.99. C.R.S. § 18-4-501(4)(g).
  • Criminal mischief is a class 2 felony when the damage is more than $1,000,000. C.R.S. § 18-4-501(4)(h).

Possible Defenses:

To be charged with criminal mischief, the defendant must have knowingly committed the crime. A defense attorney may be able to shield their client from this charge if it can be shown the crime happened only negligently or recklessly, rather than knowingly.

Mistaken identity may also provide a defense to this charge. The prosecution must prove the defendant in question was the one who perpetrated the actual crime. This can be difficult to do when only using eye witness accounts which are often wrong or biased.

Self defense, particularly in a domestic violence case, may also provide a strong defense. If the defendant felt their actions were justified, even necessary, in the situation, they may be able to use this to defend against the charge of criminal mischief.