Los Angeles Juvenile Graffiti & Vandalism Defense Attorneys
Graffiti is a form of vandalism, which can be prosecuted as a criminal act. Even though graffiti only causes property damage, it may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending upon the amount of damage caused to the property. All juvenile graffiti charges should be taken seriously and defended aggressively in court by an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney.
There are many graffiti charges that a juvenile may face.
- Defacement of Property: Under Penal Code 594 it is illegal to deface property, “with graffiti or other inscribed material.” In addition to heavy fines and incarceration depending upon the amount of damage done, minors charged with this offense may be forced to keep his or her community graffiti-free for up to one year with community service.
- Possession of Aerosol Containers By a Minor: Under Penal Code 594.1 (b): “It shall be unlawful for any person under the age of 18 years to purchase etching cream or an aerosol container of paint that is capable of defacing property.” Penalties include up to 100 hours of community service enforced over a 90-day period. Repeat offenders face stiffer penalties with each conviction.
- Vandalism of a Highway (Penal Code 640.7) or Freeway (Penal Code 640.8): Defacing property on or near a highway or freeway is a serious crime. Penalties may include heavy fines up to $1,000 and jail time when the defendant is a repeat offender.
There are also specific charges for defacing government property (Penal Code 640.5) and churches (Penal Code 594.3). Any and all graffiti crimes can have serious consequences.
Misdemeanor versus felony charges
The severity of a vandalism charge such as juvenile graffiti depends upon the criminal history of the offender and the amount of property damage. Typically, vandalism charges have a threshold of $400, which determines whether the penalties will be misdemeanor or felony charges. When property damage exceeds $400, prosecutors may pursue felony charges. There are exceptions to this rule. Other misdemeanor charges may become felony charges when gang involvement played a role, when the offender has a criminal record or when the vandalism has hate crime implications. A vandalism felony may be considered as a strike under California’s Three Strikes Law.
Defending graffiti charges
Many juveniles charged with graffiti crimes are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is important to meet all graffiti charges head-on with an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. The juvenile criminal defense lawyers at Takakjian & Sitkoff, LLP understand that our clients’ futures are on the line. We examine how the arrests were made, and we help our clients and their families understand the ramifications of a conviction. All juvenile crime charges must be fought, because if there ever is another incident, the resulting penalties will be even more severe. It is in the best interest of anyone charged with a graffiti crime to call our offices before speaking with the authorities. Call (888) 579-4844 today for a free consultation and case evaluation.