Are you facing criminal charges for property vandalism in Los Angeles? If so, it is important to speak with an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. Hiring an attorney will allow you to minimize the consequences of your arrest and fight to protect your future. Call The Rodriguez Law Group today to schedule a free consultation and learn more. Lead attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez is a former prosecutor with over 18 years experience. We will review your case, determine the best legal strategy for your defense, and explain your legal rights.
What is Vandalism (PC 594)?
In California, it is a crime to maliciously deface or destroy another person’s property. Specifically, California Penal Code 594 PC defines the crime of vandalism as any of the following acts:
- Defacing another person’s property with graffiti or other inscribed material;
- Damaging another person’s property; and
- Destroying another person’s property.
Property can be either real property (e.g., land, commercial building, personal home) or personal property (e.g., car, clothing, furniture).
Penal Code 594 PC also prohibits the vandalism of real property, vehicles, signs, fixtures, furnishings, or other property belonging to a public entity. When public property is vandalized, it will be assumed that the perpetrator did not have permission to destroy the property.
Elements of the Crime
In order to be convicted of vandalism in Los Angeles, the prosecutor handling your case will have to prove each of the elements of the crime. This means establishing that you:
- Acted maliciously;
- Defaced with graffiti or other inscribed material or damaged/or destroyed property; and
- The property did not belong to you.
Malicious Intent: Your conduct will be considered malicious if you intentionally did a wrongful act and/or had the intent to annoy or injure another person.
Graffiti/Other Inscribed Material: You can face charges for vandalism if you write, mark, etch, scratch, draw, or paint a word, figure, mark, or design on another person’s property.
Another Person’s Property: You cannot be convicted of vandalism if the property you defaced/destroyed/damaged is your own or if you had the permission of the property’s owner.
Examples of Vandalism
The crime of vandalism essentially covers any malicious destruction of another person’s property. Examples of acts of vandalism include:
- Spray painting a drawing on a public bridge;
- Throwing rocks at a neighbor’s window;
- Slashing the tires on your ex’s car;
- Breaking property that belongs to you and other people;
- Driving by a mailbox and hitting it with a bat;
- Carving your initials or a heart into a park bench or tree; and
- Keying another person’s vehicle.
Consequences of Vandalism
Vandalism can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony in Los Angeles. The specific charge you face will depend on the extent of the property damage you cause. In most cases, vandalism causing property damage of less than $400 will be a misdemeanor. Vandalism causing property damage in excess of $400 will be a felony.
Misdemeanor Vandalism (Damage Less than $400): When charged as a misdemeanor, vandalism is punishable by no more than one year in a Los Angeles County jail and a fine of $1,000.
Misdemeanor Vandalism (Prior Convictions): If you have a prior conviction for vandalism, any subsequent acts of vandalism causing property damage less than $400 are punishable by one year in a Los Angeles County jail and a fine of $5,000.
Misdemeanor Vandalism (Damage Less than $10,000): Vandalism causing property damage greater than $400 but less than $10,000 is punishable by no more than one year in a California state prison and a fine of $10,000.
Felony Vandalism (Damage Exceeding $10,000): Vandalism causing property damage in excess of $10,000 is punishable by no more than three years in a California state prison and a fine of $50,000.
In addition to jail time and fines, you may also be ordered to clean up, restore, or fix the property you have destroyed. You may also be required to pay restitution to your victims for their damages.
Defending Charges of Vandalism
When you are charged with a crime in Los Angeles you have the right to assert any argument that will help to explain, justify, or excuse your alleged behavior. When these arguments are persuasive, the prosecution will have a difficult time proving that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This will help your attorney secure a reduction or dismissal of the charges in your case. Defenses that may be helpful in your Los Angeles vandalism case include:
- False accusation;
- Mistaken identity;
- Lack of required malicious intent;
- You own the property in question; or
- You had permission of the property’s owner.
Fighting Vandalism Charges in Los Angeles
Have you or someone you know been arrested for defacing or destroying another person’s property? Vandalism is a serious crime with potentially devastating consequences. You can increase the chances of securing a positive outcome in your case by hiring an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to represent you.
At The Rodriguez Law Group, our vandalism attorneys have nearly two decades of legal experience. In this time, we have successfully defended clients in a wide range of complex criminal matters, including charges for vandalism. We know that your future is on the line and will fight to protect your future. We use an aggressive approach right from the start and make it incredibly difficult for the prosecution to meet their burden. Many times, we are able to secure a reduction or dismissal of the charges against our clients. Call our Los Angeles vandalism attorneys today to schedule a free consultation. We will review your case, explain your rights, and answer any questions you have.