Substance Abuse Leads to Felony Charges in Damage of $30M Painting

There are just some cases that Castle Rock felony defense lawyers have no doubt involves some issue of mental illness, substance abuse – or both.

While mental illness is not accepted in our society the same way as say, cancer, we are slowly coming around and our judicial system is beginning to reflect that.

Such was the case for a woman accused of felony criminal mischief after damaging a $30 million painting at a brand new museum in Denver.

The painting, a zig-zagging of red, black, white and yellow lines created by expressionist artist Clyfford Still, was reportedly damaged when a 37-year-old woman reportedly scratched, punched, leaned on and then slid her bare buttocks down the painting. She also reportedly urinated on herself, but the urine did not end up on the painting itself, police say.

That incident reportedly happened just weeks after officials dropped pending charges of armed robbery that had been filed against her. She did have a 2008 conviction for DUI.

The museum, dedicated solely to Still’s work, had been open less than two months when the incident occurred. The artist, whose work has often been compared to Jackson Pollock, passed away in 1980. Four of his works were sold for almost $115 million last year.

So this act, had it been inflicted on almost anything else, might have been considered minor vandalism. In this case, however, she reportedly caused an estimated $10,000 in damage to the oil-on-canvas piece.

That was why the woman was charged with a felony.

Though she could have served time behind bars for her offense, the judge instead opted to require that she serve two years of probation, during which time she is mandated to receive treatment for mental illness and alcohol dependency. She may also be required to pay some form of restitution.

The judge obviously felt her actions were egregious enough to warrant some form of punishment. But he was right in ordering leniency, coupled with treatment.

Numerous studies have shown that simply tossing people behind bars without any attempt to actually treat the underlying causes is likely to result in them simply returning in handcuffs – often for even worse offenses.

Having an experienced attorney by your side to help argue for treatment can be an important key to starting your road to recovery.

Contact the Law office of Ellmann & Ellmann today, for further questions and Concerns on your case. We have the experienced Lawyers that can assist you.

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