A vandalism charge can have very serious consequences. Severe fines and even prison time are possibilities, and vandalism can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Anna R. Yum, a knowledgeable and skilled defense lawyer in San Diego, can negotiate with the District Attorney to get a vandalism charge reduced or dismissed before it’s filed.
Vandalism Defined by State Law
The California Penal Code defines vandalism as maliciously damaging or destroying property that is not yours, or defacing property with graffiti. This can include:
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- shooting bullets at a street sign
- scratching words into a table
- removing an emblem off a vehicle
- slashing a tire
- ripping a bus seat
- breaking a window
- damaging a public bench
- toppling a tombstone
- etching a window
- putting graffiti (with spray paint or permanent marker) on a wall
Penalties for Vandalism
If the damage done by the vandalism amounts to less than $400 and there’s no prior criminal record, the penalties for vandalism are a fine up to $1,000, up to one year in the county jail, or both.
If the individual has a prior conviction for vandalism or graffiti, the potential sentence is a fine up to $5,000 and a year in jail. If the damage is over $400, the vandalism can be charged as a felony, with:
- up to a year in county jail, or
- up to three years in a state prison, and
- a fine up to $10,000
If the vandalism damage is more than $10,000 worth, the potential fine rises to a maximum of $50,000.
Even the Parents May Have to Pay
Other potential penalties for vandalism include counseling, a court order to personally repair or clean up the damage done, or even a court order to keep the property free of graffiti for a period of time. A parent of a minor child who is charged with vandalism may also be ordered to do this.