Criminal Mischief Charges Result from Church Vandalism, Burglary

church vandalism equals criminal mischief

Photo: Center for Social Leadership

A Duchesne County LDS church was vandalized on Tuesday, Oct. 14. Two days later, the parties responsible were arrested and booked on charges of criminal mischief, burglary, and misdemeanor theft.

Thou Shalt Not Tag

The criminal mischief incident in question took place Tuesday night sometime after 10:30 p.m. at the church located at 181 N. 200 W. The damages weren’t discovered until the next morning.

It is unclear how the three vandals got into the church. There was no sign of forced entry into the building. However, several doors inside the church were kicked in, according to a report from KSL News. In addition to the damaged doors, various items–including cash–were stolen from the church, and red spray paint was used to “tag” various locations, including the door to the bishop’s office, the inside of the chapel, and a picture of Jesus Christ.

On Thursday, Tristan Joseph Peterson Hirst was detained and confessed to the crime to a Duchesne County Sheriff’s department sergeant. He also implicated Denver T. Bell and 17-year-old juvenile male in the crime. Hirst and Bell told police where the stolen items were located, and police were able to obtain them.

Both men were charged with criminal mischief, burglary, and misdemeanor theft. It is unclear what charges will be filed against the juvenile offender.

Criminal Mischief Defined

According to Utah Code 76-6-106, criminal mischief–more commonly known as vandalism–is considered an “offense against property.” According to the code, a person commits criminal mischief if he/she does any of the following:

  • damages or destroys (other than via fire/arson) property with the intent to defraud an insurer
  • tampers with the property of another resulting in endangering human life, health or safety
  • causes or threatens a substantial interruption of any critical infrastructure (such as communication, financial, transportation, health care, etc…)
  • intentionally damages, defaces or destroys the property of another
  • recklessly or willfully shoots a missile or other object against a vehicle of transportation.

A church does not qualify as “critical infrastructure,” and obviously Hirst and Bell didn’t fire a missile at anything. Their charge results from the most common form of criminal mischief, “intentionally damages, defaces or destroys the property of another.”

Criminal mischief ranges from a class B misdemeanor up to a second degree felony depending on the offense. When it comes to vandalism, the punishment will depend on the value of property damaged, with a second degree felony for over $5,000 down to a class B misdemeanor for less than $500.

If you or someone you know has been charged with criminal mischief or any other crime, be sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who will look out for your best interests.