Reckless Damage or Destruction – Texas Penal Code §28.04

Texas Criminal Law

The Reckless Damage or Destruction crime in the state of Texas gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you “recklessly” damaged or destroyed someone’s property without that person’s consent. Learn more detailed information about the Reckless Damage or Destruction offense below.

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The key difference between Criminal Mischief and Reckless Damage or Destruction is the level of awareness (the legal term is scienter). Whereas Criminal Mischief requires that you intentionally or knowingly damaged property, Reckless Damage or Destruction requires only that you were reckless. Recklessness implies that you should have been aware of the risks of the action that caused damage, but that you did not necessarily intend them to cause damage or that you did not actually know they would cause damage. However, it is more than mere negligence. Basically, for something to have been reckless, it should have been blatantly obvious that it was going to cause damage.

Another major difference between the offenses of Criminal Mischief and Reckless Damage or Destruction is that Reckless Damage or Destruction is only a Class C misdemeanor, whereas Criminal Mischief can be punished anywhere between a Class C misdemeanor and a felony. Reckless Damage or Destruction is classified in the Texas Penal Code under Title 7 “Offenses Against Property,” Chapter 28 “Arson, Criminal Mischief, and Other Property Damage or Destruction.”

What is the current Texas law about Reckless Damage or Destruction?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Reckless Damage or Destruction in Penal Code Section §28.04 as follows:[1]

(a) A person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner, he recklessly damages or destroys property of the owner.

How can I be charged with Reckless Damage or Destruction?

You can be charged with Reckless Damage or Destruction if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 28.04(a) as described in the section above have been met. You have to have actually damaged or destroyed property, you have to have done so recklessly (as opposed to negligently) and you had to have done so without the effective consent of the owner. Effective consent might be found in several different ways, but in essence it means that the owner gave you permission to cause the damage (for instance, participating in a demolition derby would probably be considered effective consent for your car to be damaged by the reckless conduct of others participating in the derby).

What is the punishment for Reckless Damage or Destruction?

A conviction for Reckless Damage or Destruction is punished as a Class C Misdemeanor,[2] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $500 and no jail time. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors

Legal References:

^1. Texas Penal Code §28.04^2. Texas Penal Code §28.04(b)

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