San Diego County Vandalism Defense Attorney
Vandalism is not only about defacing someone else’s property wall or painting protests on the streets. It also pertains to disfiguring, destroying, or causing damage to the property of another.
According to Penal Code 594, any person can be charged with vandalism in California for a number of reasons, even simple ones. Examples are 1) breaking of ceramic material during a fight with your spouse; 2) operate the car of some you are avenging yourself to; 3) simply writing your name on a newly-mounted cement along the sidewalk.
In San Diego County, vandalism can be convicted as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the weight of the crime. Either way, it is punishable by imprisonment as well as costly fines.
Call Lee Law Group, P.C. at (619) 349-1588 to get a free consultation.
Key Elements of Vandalism
Every offense has elements that need to be present in the crime to convict someone. Vandalism in San Diego County, CA has three (3) major elements:
- A person maliciously damaged, destroyed any property or he “defaced it with graffiti or other inscribed material”;
- That he either owned it with someone else or did not own it at all;
- That damaged, destructed, or defaced property amounts to either less than $400 or more than $400.
If you are charged with vandalism in California, you must take note that the prosecution must show evidence regarding these three (3) main elements. If they are not proved in court, you will remain innocent.
Defenses to Vandalism in California
A good defense attorney can help you sort things out in your case. Legal support presents the possible defenses that you can use in court to counter the charges. To give you an idea, here are some:
Vandalism that occurred accidentally is not a crime. Remember that for an unlawful act to be considered an act of vandalism; it must be malicious. The prosecution must prove that the defendant did the damage maliciously. If you did the damage without intention, you could expound in the accidental act to defend yourself.
The defense of mistaken identity can be used if the police have mistakenly taken you for the accused person. You probably have the same name as the person they were looking for. Even if you tell them this fact, they won’t believe you unless you prove it in court with the help of your lawyer. If this is what happened to you, just wait for your moment to speak in court.
Other reasons why this might be the case is because the description of the person they were looking for matched yours; you were with the people who did the vandals but did not do it, or someone blamed you because he thinks you were the one who damaged his property.
False allegations frequently happen when vandalism occurs in the event of domestic violence. In this scenario, the innocent person can be falsely accused of being responsible for the damages. If this is your case, then you can argue that you have been falsely accused and wrongfully arrested.
Why would the offender use his wrong action to accuse the innocent person? The main reason is either to cover up his mistakes and let another suffer or gain control over that person. It might also be a decision brought about by feelings of anger, jealousy, hatred, etc.
Sentences and Penalties for Violating Vandalism Laws
Punishments and penalties for violating vandalism laws in California are classified in different categories under the Penal Code 594. It can be a misdemeanor, a felony, with graffiti, etc. Let’s discuss each one of them.
Vandalism as a misdemeanor
For damages that amount to less than $400, vandalism is convicted as a misdemeanor or the less serious type of vandalism. It carries the following penalties: 1) six (6) months up to one (1) year in county jail; 2) a maximum fine of $1,000 if the convicted is a first time offender, but up to $5,000 if there is a prior record of vandalism conviction or summary or informal probation.
Vandalism as a felony
For damages that amount to $400 or more, vandalism becomes a wobbler offense—the prosecutor decides whether the offender must be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, all depending on factors such as circumstances of the crime and criminal history.
If the conviction is a misdemeanor, yet the involved amount of damage is greater than $400, you will be sentenced with a year of imprisonment in county jail, plus a fine of $10,000. However, if you have a previous criminal record of vandalism offense and the amount of damage is more than $10,000, you can be charged with up to $50,000. In addition to that, you will stay in informal probation.
Vandalism using graffiti causing damage of less than $250
The penalties for defacing property are different. If you used “graffiti or other inscribed material” to disfigure a property and the total amount to shell out for repair is less than $250, you may be sentenced with less penalty scheme.
If you are charged under the graffiti laws of California, your previous record will be checked. The potential penalty will vary depending on whether the recent offense is the convicted person’s first, second, third, or subsequent conviction of vandalism offenses.
The first conviction carries the penalty of 1) $1,000 of fines; 2) community service. The second conviction is considered a misdemeanor, so it carries the penalty of 1) up to 6 months of imprisonment in county jail; 2) community service; 3) $2,000 of fines. For the third and subsequent convictions, the offense is still a misdemeanor, which carries the penalty of 1) up to one (1) year of imprisonment in county jail, 2) community service, and 3) up to $3,000 of fines.
Call for a Vandalism Defense Attorney
For any type of vandalism charges that you might be facing right now, you need a San Diego County defense attorney who will guide you in planning the best defense for your case, and who will represent you in court. Lee Law Group, P.C. has a group of legal experts who can help you win your vandalism case. We will lead you from interrogation to court hearings.
Call Lee Law Group, P.C. at (619) 349-1588 and book a free consultation with us now!