Vandalism is one of those crimes that just about everyone has done at one point or another, whether it involved carving your name on your desk in high school, drawing a mustache on someone’s picture or something more drastic like spray painting your name across a wall. But just because vandalism is common doesn’t mean it’s a criminal charge you should take lightly. In fact, anyone who is charged with vandalism should immediately contact a Vista vandalism lawyer in order to protect their rights.
What is Vandalism in California
Vandalism isn’t limited to graffiti, although that’s one of the most common types of vandalism, any destruction to another person’s property falls under the scope of this law. That means keying someone’s car, breaking a store window, knocking over a gravestone, or defacing a movie theater poster are all considered acts of vandalism.
Damaging property in your own home shared with a spouse will be treated as domestic violence vandalism if it involves community property.
If you have not been convicted of vandalism and the damage will cost under $400 to repair, you will only be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, fines, community service and up to 3 years of probation. If the damage will cost more than that to fix, or if you have a prior conviction, you will be facing felony charges. Felony vandalism convictions may result in jail or prison time, up to $10,000 in fines and community service. No matter how serious the charge, you may be subject to make restitution to the victim and a one year suspension of your driver’s license.
In some cases, a Vista property damage attorney could get a felony knocked back down to a misdemeanor if the value of the damaged property is close to, but just over $400. He may also be able to have the charges dropped all together if you fix the damage and the property owner states that they don’t want to press charges. While the decision will ultimately be up to the District Attorney, they will often drop the charges in these cases when the victim is satisfied that their property has been repaired.
In some cases, the prosecution may push for a misdemeanor charge to be elevated to a felony if they believe it was a hate crime or was a gang-related activity. If the crime was already being charged as a felony, the sentence could be increased by three years for a hate crime and four years for a gang crime. Additionally felony gang crimes count as strike under California’s three strikes rule. It is critical that anyone who has been arrested for vandalism should immediately contact an experienced Vista vandalism attorney like Peter M. Liss.
If you are the parent of a minor who has been charged with this crime, it is important to realize that you could be held liable for the fines incurred by your child’s actions. That is why you need a San Diego juvenile crime lawyer to help defend your son or daughter from the accusations against them. Please call Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 to discuss your case.