Vandalism charges can happen in several circumstances. An accident can turn into the lead charge in a case against you.
I was listening to a case yesterday about a guy who pushed a guy who just pushed him. The guy who got ushed had his cell phone in his hand. It fell and broke. This scenario led to a vandalism charge.
Vandalism is not just graffiti, “tagging,” breaking windows and smashing mailboxes, but all common types of vandalism include:
- Etching or carving into glass or wood, such as tables, chairs, desks, benches and trees
- Breaking items that belong to your significant other or family members
- Breaking a window or door
- Breaking car lights and “keying” car bodies
- Tagging with markers (“tips”) or spray paint
- Damaging somebody else’s property, including mailboxes, cars, plants, lawns or other personal or business property
Vandalism is one of the more common criminal charges in San Diego, but it is often a mistake or the result of a juvenile caught up in a series of unfortunate events. Charges can be reduced and so can the consequences.
However, if you are the parent of a minor who is convicted of vandalism, you are financially responsible for damages in addition to fines that might be imposed by the court. People accused of vandalism may be charged with a felony, and face jail time, heavy fines, a “strike” under California’s three strikes law, and state prison, in some cases.
Call The Law Offices Of Mark Deniz APLC For Dedicated Criminal Defense
The initial charge for vandalism will be heavy, whether it is a misdemeanor or felony charge. A person may also be charged with a misdemeanor for possession of tagging or graffiti tools under California Penal Code Section 594.2, which states that if a person is found with a marker that has a tip that is more than 3/8″ wide or a “similar implement” that is filled with ink that can’t wash off with water and the person intends to use that marker for tagging or graffiti, that person can be convicted of a misdemeanor. Possession of etching tools, drill bits, glass cutters, spray paint and even fire extinguishers with the intent to use for tagging purposes can also lead to a misdemeanor conviction.
The key, however, is that the prosecution must prove intent. Possession of the materials is not evidence enough for conviction. Retaining professional criminal defense counsel is critical to your best possible outcome within the criminal justice system.
My 14 years of experience as a San Diego defense lawyer and former veteran prosecutor lends inside knowledge of the prosecution techniques and strategies. I will help you mitigate the consequences you face, and I will work to get the charges against you dismissed if possible.
Please call The Law Offices of Mark Deniz APLC today to get a free case evaluation and schedule a free initial consultation with me, San Diego vandalism defense attorney Mark Deniz. I serve clients throughout San Diego County, from Chula Vista to Escondido, and I am responsive to your immediate needs. The key is to get down to the facts. Was the damage intentional? What is the real dollar amount? Call now for a free case evaluation at (858) 751-4384.
Misdemeanor Vandalism Penalties
You will be charged with a misdemeanor if damages amount to less than $400, but penalties include possible jail time, probation, community service and fines. Conviction on a tagging or graffiti offense will bring additional probation conditions, including graffiti cleanup program participation and fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on if it is a first offense or not.
Felony Vandalism Penalties
The conditions of a felony vandalism charge include:
- Damage of $400 or more, or if you have a prior criminal record, or if the alleged vandalism was a “hate crime”
- Alleged involvement with street gang activities (warrants a strike under California’s three strikes law)
- Malicious defacing, damage or destruction to somebody else’s private or business property without permission
Extreme damage and repeated offenses are penalized with jail or prison times and fines up to $10,000. Special probation conditions apply to tagging and graffiti offenses, including paying for repairs to damaged property and mandatory participation in a graffiti cleanup program.
Get Solid Defense
Don’t jeopardize your future with a public defender, and don’t think that vandalism is a minor criminal charge. A criminal record greatly impacts your future job opportunities, rights and severity of future criminal charges. Get proactive, committed defense today.
Please call 858-429-9982 to schedule a free initial consultation and free case evaluation with me, attorney Mark Deniz. All conversations with me and my staff are confidential.
594. (a) Every person who maliciously commits any of the following acts with respect to any real or personal property not his or her own, in cases other than those specified by state law, is guilty of vandalism: (1) Defaces with graffiti or other inscribed material. (2) Damages. (3) Destroys. Whenever a person violates this subdivision with respect to real property, vehicles, signs, fixtures, furnishings, or property belonging to any public entity, as defined by Section 811.2 of the Government Code, or the federal government, it shall be a permissive inference that the person neither owned the property nor had the permission of the owner to deface, damage, or destroy the property. (b) (1) If the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction is four hundred dollars ($400) or more, vandalism is punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or if the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction is ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or more, by a fine of not more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment. (2) (A) If the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction is less than four hundred dollars ($400), vandalism is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment. (B) If the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction is less than four hundred dollars ($400), and the defendant has been previously convicted of vandalism or affixing graffiti or other inscribed material under Section 594, 594.3, 594.4, 640.5, 640.6, or 640.7, vandalism is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment. (c) Upon conviction of any person under this section for acts of vandalism consisting of defacing property with graffiti or other inscribed materials, the court shall, when appropriate and feasible, in addition to any punishment imposed under subdivision (b), order the defendant to clean up, repair, or replace the damaged property himself or herself, or order the defendant, and his or her parents or guardians if the defendant is a minor, to keep the damaged property or another specified property in the community free of graffiti for up to one year. Participation of a parent or guardian is not required under this subdivision if the court deems this participation to be detrimental to the defendant, or if the parent or guardian is a single parent who must care for young children. If the court finds that graffiti cleanup is inappropriate, the court shall consider other types of community service, where feasible. (d) If a minor is personally unable to pay a fine levied for acts prohibited by this section, the parent of that minor shall be l
iable for payment of the fine. A court may waive payment of the fine, or any part thereof, by the parent upon a finding of good cause. (e) As used in this section, the term “graffiti or other inscribed material” includes any unauthorized inscription, word, figure, mark, or design, that is written, marked, etched, scratched, drawn, or painted on real or personal property. (f) The court may order any person ordered to perform community service or graffiti removal pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (c) to undergo counseling. (g) This section shall become operative on January 1, 2002.
Contact the Law Office of Mark Deniz now for a free case evaluation at 858-429-9982.