Los Angeles Vandalism Attorney

Avoiding Vandalism Charges

According to the California Vandalism Law, Penal Code section 594, if it doesn't belong to you and you deface it, destroy or damage it without the owner's permission, you may have committed the crime of vandalism. While subway graffiti, keying a parked car or defacing a street sign may seem inconsequential, these crimes qualify as vandalism by lawmakers who are determined to bring an end to vandalism throughout the state.

The lawyers at our criminal defense law firm can often obtain a reduction in charges or a complete dismissal of vandalism charges, depending on the circumstances. If you have been charged with vandalism, we urge you to get in touch with a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners as soon as possible so that we can review the charges against you and help you decide your best course of action.

What are the penalties for vandalism in California?

Vandalism charges may be prosecuted as either misdemeanors or felonies based on the surrounding circumstances. No matter whether the vandalism was committed due to indifference, passed off as juvenile mischief or creative expression, or was caused by malicious intent, consequences can be severe. A first time vandalism offense with damage under $400 is generally charged as a misdemeanor and penalties include no jail time, restitution, fines, community service and three years of informal probation.

If the damage is over $400 and you have a prior conviction for vandalism, you could be charged with a felony—resulting in prison time, probation, restitution, community service, hefty fines and in some instances, a one year driver's license suspension. In some cases, your misdemeanor vandalism charge can be elevated to a felony if you have a prior criminal record, are a gang member or your offense has hate crime implications.

If you are charged with gang enhancement, then not only is your charge a felony but it is a "Strike" against you per the California Three Strikes Law.

Other Vandalism Crimes

Prominent acts of vandalism in California include damaging, destroying and defacing schools, churches, cemeteries, mail boxes and motor vehicles.

A variety of activities can be seen as vandalism, including:

  • Slashing tires
  • Breaking windows
  • Damaging benches
  • Ripping bus seats
  • Toppling headstones
  • Etching windows
  • Removing car emblems
  • Carving initials into desks
  • Putting graffiti on school walls

Other crimes that are prosecuted as vandalism include:

  • Possession of aerosol paint containers under age 18 (Penal Code 594.1)
  • Possession of vandalism tools (Penal Code 594.2)
  • Vandalism to a church or synagogue (Penal Code 594.3)
  • Vandalism to government facilities or vehicles (Penal Code 640.5)
  • Vandalism on or near a highway (Penal Code 640.7)
  • Vandalism on a freeway (Penal Code 640.8)
  • Vandalism using noxious or caustic chemicals (Penal Code 594.4).

In California, particularly Los Angeles and Orange counties, lawmakers have instituted a vandalism prevention initiative and vandals are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Aggressive representation in your vandalism case is critically important to anyone who is accused of vandalism, especially when charged with a felony. At our firm, our lawyers excel at taking early action in vandalism cases to improve chances of a dismissal or to secure a reduction in charges at the pre-filing stage.

If you have been arrested for or charged with vandalism, we invite you to contact a Los Angeles vandalism attorney to discuss your case.