Attorney Eric D. Puryear

Criminal Mischief Charges in Iowa

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Iowa Criminal Law » Criminal Mischief Charges in Iowa

Iowa Code Section 716 defines the crime of criminal mischief as any damage, defacing, alteration, or destruction of property is criminal mischief when done intentionally by one who has no right to so act. In essence, criminal mischief in Iowa is what we more commonly call vandalism.


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Criminal mischief in Iowa is criminal mischief in the first degree if the cost of replacing, repairing, or restoring the property so damaged, defaced, altered, or destroyed is more than ten thousand dollars, or if such acts are intended to or do in fact cause a substantial interruption or impairment of service rendered to the public by a gas, electric, steam or waterworks corporation, telephone or telegraph corporation, common carrier, or a public utility operated by a municipality. Criminal mischief in the first degree is a class “C” felony under Iowa law, which can result in a 10 year prison sentence.

Criminal mischief is criminal mischief in the second degree if the cost of replacing, repairing, or restoring the property so damaged, defaced, altered, or destroyed exceeds one thousand dollars but does not exceed ten thousand dollars. Criminal mischief in the second degree is a class “D” felony, which can result in a 5 year term in the Iowa department of corrections (prison).

Criminal mischief is criminal mischief in the third degree if any of the following apply:


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a. The cost of replacing, repairing, or restoring the property that is damaged, defaced, altered, or destroyed exceeds five hundred dollars, but does not exceed one thousand dollars.

b. The property is a deed, will, commercial paper or any civil or criminal process or other instrument having legal effect.

c. The act consists of rendering substantially less effective than before any light, signal, obstruction, barricade, or guard which has been placed or erected for the purpose of enclosing any unsafe or dangerous place or of alerting persons to an unsafe or dangerous condition.


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d. The person intentionally disinters human remains from a burial site without lawful authority.

e. The person intentionally disinters human remains that have state and national significance from an historical or scientific standpoint for the inspiration and benefit of the United States without the permission of the state archaeologist.

Criminal mischief in the third degree is an aggravated misdemeanor. As such, it can carry a 2 year prison term in Iowa.

Criminal mischief in Iowa is criminal mischief in the fourth degree if the cost of replacing, repairing, or restoring the property so damaged, defaced, altered, or destroyed exceeds two hundred dollars, but does not exceed five hundred dollars. Criminal mischief in the fourth degree is a serious misdemeanor, which can result in up to a year in the county jail.

All criminal mischief which is not criminal mischief in the first degree, second degree, third degree, or fourth degree is criminal mischief in the fifth degree. Criminal mischief in the fifth degree is a simple misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to 30 days in the county jail in Iowa.

Under Iowa law, some criminal mischief crimes are also a hate crime as defined in section 729A.2 of the Iowa Code, and are classified and punished as an offense one degree higher than the underlying offense.

Those facing a criminal mischief charge in Iowa are well advised to seek an attorney at once, as it is vital to properly handle the case.


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