Vandalism (graffiti included) is a form of malicious mischief and a violation of California's Penal Code 594. It's often a surprise to defendants charged with graffiti that the charges against them are wobblers - they can be filed as either a felony or misdemeanor. Prosecutors pursue felony charges if total damages are greater than $400 and if defendant has a prior criminal record, for just about any crime - misdemeanor or felony.
The defendant is charged with vandalism if they are arrested for damaging, destroying or defacing property (without permission from the owner) that does not belong to the defendant.
If charge of vandalism is filed as misdemeanor, there are instances where it can be disposed of through a “civil compromise”. Under California Penal Code 1377 and 1378 a civil compromise is achieved by contacting the victim of the vandalism, and through negotiation, an agreement is reached on the price for the damage of the property. If an agreement is reached, a monetary settlement is then paid to the victim. A motion is then prepared and filed to dismiss the criminal charge, based upon a civil compromise being reached. While this remedy is not available in all cases, the opportunity to enter into a civil compromise is an excellent way to resolve a vandalism charge because the case is dismissed.
Vandalism cannot be charged on someone destroying their own property, however if ownership is shared (for instance, if individuals are cohabitating), then the person who damaged property without the consent of the owner can be charged with vandalism. Additionally, if a defendant is a minor and is found guilty of vandalism, they are at risk of losing their driver’s license for a period of 1 year under California Vehicle Code 13202.6.
Penalties for Vandalism
The penalties for even minor cases of vandalism can be very severe. Penalties are scaled according to the level of total damages caused:
Proper Defense, Effective Solution
Anytime the defendant is facing felony charges, the defense must move decisively and quickly. Specific actions must be taken in planning your defense. Your attorney must be aggressive and proactive to preserve evidence, file appropriate motions and propound discovery - even if this a first-time offense with misdemeanor charges.
Please contact our office today if you or someone you know has been involved or is alleged to be involved in this crime. We will set an appointment to discuss your case details and possible defense strategies. The initial consultation is free.
The Law Offices of Stull & Stull has the utmost experience and expertise in California for defending our clients against the high penalties for vandalism. Attorney Adam Stull previously acted as a prosecutor and has handled a variety of cases. We are very familiar with the range of complexity that may accompany even the simplest cases.
Our familiarity extends to experience, but also with practical knowledge of California graffiti and vandalism laws. We can respond appropriately, as well as to propose lawful alternatives to various penalties or sentences that can end up being unnecessarily harsh or unjust.
The Law Offices of Stull & Stull has more than 45 years of combined criminal trial experience in Orange County as well as Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Kern, Tulare, Fresno and Ventura counties. The Law Office of Stull & Stull is based in Laguna Hills, California.