Vandalism | PC 594(a)

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Los Angeles Vandalism Lawyers | LA Property Crime Defense

California Penal Code Section 594 defines vandalism as maliciously defacing with graffiti or other inscribed material, damaging or destroying another person’s real or personal property. Even what might be considered street art to some is a crime in the eyes of the law.

Both Eugene Hanrahan and Stephen Sitkoff have each practiced criminal law for over 30 years as former senior Los Angeles prosecutors and since 1987, criminal defense experts. Moreover, when you retain a criminal lawyer from our defense firm, your lawyer will either be Mr. Takakjian or Mr. Sitkoff, not a contract lawyer or associate.

Penalties For Vandalism

Vandalism is considered a “wobbler” offense, meaning it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor.  The charge level depends on a combination of your prior criminal record and/or the cost to repair the damage.  Penalties for vandalism may vary, however, the following are a few of the potential consequences:

  • On a misdemeanor vandalism, up to one year in county jail and $1,000 in fines for damage to property costing less than $400
  • On a felony vandalism, up to 3 years in state prison and $10,000 in fines for damage to property with a value between $400 and $10,000
  • On a felony vandalism with damages exceeding $10,000, penalties can be further enhanced
  • On both felony and misdemeanor vandalism, the courts would order restitution to the victims whose property was damaged.

Enhanced Hate Crime Charges

Damage to property owned by or affiliated with a member or organization of a certain religion, race, nationality or other protected groups may result in a hate crime special allegation or enhancement if there is evidence that suggests the act specifically targeted a protected group. This does not mean a simple graffiti charge becomes an aggravated felony case if you are accused of tagging a house of worship, a statue of a civil rights leader, or an ethnic minorities’ home or business with graffiti, however, defacing either of these structures with a threatening message or racial epithet would result in a felony vandalism charge with a hate crime enhancement.

Juvenile Graffiti and Vandalism Charges

The juvenile courts are more focused on rehabilitation than the adult criminal justice system. A common punishment for graffiti-related juvenile crime is community service hours in which your child is required to participate in graffiti removal. After completing these hours, as well as successfully completing court ordered counseling and paying restitution to the victim, the case could be dismissed through a diversion or deferred entry of judgment (DEJ) program.

Call Us Now At (888) 579-4844 For Your Free Consultation

We recognize there are thousands of vandalism defense attorneys and law firms to choose from, however, there are very few who can match the experience and expertise we bring to every criminal case we are entrusted to defend. If you have been arrested in Los Angeles County or anywhere else in Southern California, please feel free to contact us at (888) 579-4844 for your free no-obligation consultation at our main office in West Los Angeles. We are available 24/7 with additional offices conveniently located in Long Beach, Torrance, Pasadena, West Covina, Glendale, Orange, Newport Beach, Westlake Village, Oxnard, and Rancho Cucamonga.