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How long does someone have to file charges for damaging someones property in texas?

Austin, TX |

my friends son is accused of throwing a lighter at this mans motorcycle and scratching the paint my son said he didnt do it, but the guy said he would press charges if i dont pay him. he hasnt pressed charges yet and this happened four days ago. how long does he have to follow through with it? thanks a bunch.

the guy has already called the police on the day it happened but told the police he was going to see if everything can be worked out first (as in money) before he did press charges. i hope im making sense. and if he does press charges how soon would we know and how would we find out? and also the boy accused of causing the damage is 13.

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Attorney answers 4


Probably two years, but there are some other things to consider. If a crime was actually committed here, the circumstances you've described sound like they'd probably end up being a Class B misdemeanor Criminal Mischief case (regardless of the specifics, the damage caused would need to be more than $1500 for this to be a felony) I'd like to say that your son would get the chance to tell his side of things before the police would decide to file charges, but the truth is that doesn't always happen--it largely depends on the officer. But one factor to take into consideration is that while legally there's a two year statute of limitations in which a case could be filed, waiting any amount of time to go to the police beyond about a day makes the case seem more and more doubtful as time goes on, and it's doubtful such a case, if even filed, would ever result in a conviction without some real evidence behind it. If it really didn't happen, he's essentially trying to extort money out of you.

This answer is intended only to give you general information on the subject you've asked about and does not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney-client relationship.


The first question is whether an offense has really been committed. There must be damage which was inflicted with a culpable mental state. Accidents are not crimes. The damage must have been inflicted Intetionally, knowingly or recklessly. If the "damage" has a fair market value of less than $50, then the alleged offense is a Class C misdemeanor, which could net you a trip to the Municipal Court of a Justice of the Peace Court. "Damage" valued over $50 but under $1500 would result in a Class A or Class B misdemeanor in the local County Court at Law. "Damage" valued at over $1500 would be a felony.

Most criminal lawyers don't really know much about juvenile law, which is the point of my next question: How old is the boy? Children under 10 years old basically have no criminal liability, even in juvenile court. If the child has attained his 10th birthday, then the juvenile prosecution could proceed in the District Court specially assigned to Juvenile Cases, or the case could wind up in JP Court or Municipal Court.

The statute of limitations for misdemeanors (damage under $1500) is two years.

If you have pictures of the damage, a more thorough assessment of the situation could be arranged by a personal, private and confidential attorney-client conference. Please call Don Morehart to arrange such a meeting. My phone number is 512.551.0404. I have handled hundreds of cases like this.


I agree with Ms. Foley. That he has delayed though he claims to know that your son did it certainly causes pause when considering what he really "knows." Is he saying that he saw the kid do it? If so, then why didn't he go say something to the kid immediately. If not, then he is speculating. What proof is there that the son did it?

If he calls the police, then the cop will likely want to talk to your son. It really depends on the cop's attitude. If the owner takes a bad attitude, then the cop is not likely to side with him. If he does side with him, then he is likely to be aggressive toward your son.

You should talk seriously with your son and determine if you feel that he didn't do it. If he didn't, then don't pay (but realize that son could be charged with criminal mischief.)

Although I have answered the question to try to help you, you should consult with a lawyer in your area in person on the matter. In addition, my answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us.


The above posts are correct. Assuming this is a misdemeanor criminal mischief charge at the most a two year statute of limitations would be applicable. I would not pay his demand for money. and I would be hesitant to speak with the police about it. I think the boys need to be talked with privately and separately and you and the other mother need to determine if they are telling the truth. If they had no part in the damage, then don't pay it. If they did, then you need to determine what to do to make it right. You don't want your children caught up in the legal system at such a young age, however if they did something wrong they need to learn there are consequences. This could be a very important lesson, either way.

Good luck

Although my intent in answering this question is to aid you in the legal process, my answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship in any way. You should seek the advice and counsel of a qualified attorney in your community to evaluate your legal needs and to advise you. No Attorney-Client Relationship is created without the specific intent of both parties.