In California, vandalism refers to the destruction, defacement, or damage inflicted to another’s property. Despite the fact that vandalism is commonly prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense, it comes with serious consequences such as: long term imprisonment, restitution, monetary fines, stay away orders, probation, a permanent criminal record, community service, and damage to your personal and professional reputations. Whether you were falsely accused of vandalizing the property of another, or made a mistake and committed the offense, it is crucial to contact a qualified lawyer to help you. Legal defenses to vandalism may be available, and as such, securing competent legal counsel will ensure that your constitutional rights and legal interests are protected throughout the pendency of your case.
In the event that you are facing vandalism charges, or you were arrested or are under investigation for this offense, do not discuss your case with anyone or allow yourself to be coerced into pleading guilty. Consider the fact that anything you say and do can be used against you in a court of law, so assert your right to remain silent and to have a lawyer present before any questioning can resume. Also consult with a San Diego vandalism defense lawyer as soon as possible, as it may make the difference between jail time and your freedom. The sooner you call an experienced criminal defense lawyer, the better your chances are to either have your charges reduced or, dropped completely.
At The Law Offices of David M. Boertje, our seasoned criminal defense attorneys will take all measures necessary to fight for your legal rights and win. This involves conducting a thorough background of the evidence in your case, meeting you in jail if you were arrested, securing credible witnesses, and aggressively representing you in court. Our legal professionals do anything and everything to win your case, and ensure that your constitutional rights are protected from day one. To schedule your free and completely confidential initial consultation, you can call our San Diego office at (619) 229 1870, or reach us at our North County location in Carlsbad at (760) 476 0901.California Vandalism Laws & Associated Penalties
In California, acts of vandalism are punishable under California Penal Code § 594. Generally, vandalism refers to as the malicious destruction, damage, or defacing of the property of another. There are a number of activities that can give rise to vandalism charges in California, such as:
- Using graffiti to destroy, deface or damage property;
- Breaking jointly owned fine china during a fight with a spouse;
- “Keying” someone’s car out of revenge; and
- Writing words or your name in wet cement on a sidewalk.
There are several forms of punishment for vandalism which depend upon the nature of the crime. These are:
- Misdemeanor vandalism – damage of less than $400. This is punishable by up to one year in jail and, the potential of a $1,000 fine.
- Misdemeanor or felony vandalism – damage of $400 or more. The prosecution has the discretion to charge a defendant with either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending upon the severity of the crime. This could result in the imposition of 3 years or less in a California State penitentiary, and up to $10,000 in monetary fines.
- Prior vandalism convictions. If you were convicted of vandalism to property valued at less than $400, you could be sentenced to jail for a year or less, and be forced to pay up to $5,000 in monetary fines.
- Hate crime – vandalism to a church. If a person commits vandalism to a church, it could also be designated as a hate crime, resulting in felony charges and, up to three years in prison.
- Gang-related vandalism. If you commit vandalism and the offense is gang related, you could face up to four years in prison. This could also qualify as a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law.
A vandalism conviction and the associated penalties imposed in California are serious however, there are potential defenses available. The most common vandalism defense are as follows:
- Insufficient evidence;
- Owner consent;
- Damage done solely to defendant’s property;
- Damage caused accidentally;
- Lack of intention to engage in vandalism;
- Mistaken identity; and
- False accusation.
If you or someone you know is facing vandalism charges in San Diego or the North County area, it is crucial to hire a seasoned criminal defense lawyer to help you. Contact The Law Offices of David M. Boertje today to learn more about how we will fight for your rights and protect your legal interests. Our team of legal professionals will provide you with the best chance to either have your charges reduced or, completely dismissed. To schedule your free and completely confidential initial consultation with one of our seasoned vandalism defense lawyers, feel free to call our San Diego office at (619) 229 1870. You can also reach us at our North County location in Carlsbad at (760) 476 0901, or online. We look forward to providing you with superior criminal defense representation.