Vandalism Laws

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Man breaking car window with handThe vandalism laws within the state of California are a rather broad set of laws that can carry with them a wide array of different penalties and charges.

When you commit vandalism, the crime you’re charged with largely depends on how severe the vandalism was and whether or not it was intentional. Only malicious damage is considered to be vandalism. If you or someone close to you is arrested for vandalism, a judge will likely set bail, which you will then need to pay in order for the defendant to be released. By utilizing the services of a bail bonds agency, all that’s required of you is to pay 10 percent of the bond, though it’s essential that the defendant arrives at the court date set for them. If bail is posted, the defendant is set free until their sentencing hearing. Hopefully, knowing about the vandalism laws in California and the penalties associated with these laws will prevent you from committing such a crime.

Vandalism Laws in California

A crime is referred to as vandalism in the event that the property of another was defaced with graffiti or some other written material. It also occurs if the property is damaged or destroyed. In most cases, a charge of vandalism will be classified as a misdemeanor, though the penalties attributed to the crime all depend on how severe the damage was. It’s also important to note that there are several prohibitions within the state of California that are designed to limit the amount of graffiti that takes place. The breaking of any of these additional prohibitions will lead to a misdemeanor charge.

For instance, anyone who sells or provides a minor with equipment that can be used for graffiti, such as an aerosol can or etching cream could be charged with a misdemeanor. The same is true for anyone who purchases this equipment from a minor. If you own an aerosol can or etching cream, it’s essential that you don’t carry it out in public, even if you don’t intend to commit a crime, as doing so is classified as a misdemeanor.

It’s also possible that you could be charged with a crime for enhanced vandalism. This charge is only levied in certain cases. If a building owned by a religious institution is defaced with graffiti, even if the property is a graveyard, you could receive prison time of up to a year. These enhanced penalties also apply to vandalism that’s classified as a hate crime or the use of butyric acid during the act. Understanding these laws will help your defense if ever you’re charged with vandalism.

Penalties for Breaking These Laws

Vandalism is considered to be a “wobbler” crime, which basically means that there are a wide range of penalties that you can be levied with depending on how severe the actual crime is. Damage that’s less than $400 in total carries a penalty of up to a year in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or the combination of these penalties. In the event that the damage is less than $400, but the defendant already has a conviction for vandalism, the portion of the penalty involving a fine increases to up to $5,000. If the damage ranges from $400 to $10,000, a prison term of up to a year could be levied, as could a fine of up to $10,000. In the event that the damage is actually more than $10,000, you could be provided with a fine of up to $50,000 or both a fine and imprisonment in jail for up to a year.

It’s important to note that any conviction for vandalism will require the defendant to also clean, repair, or replace the property that’s been damaged. The defendant must also keep the damaged area clean and free from graffiti for up to a year. If the convicted defendant is a minor, their parents or legal guardians will be required to assist the minor in the cleaning and repairing of the vandalized area. This type of crime is typically attributed to teens and young adults. The key to avoiding these charges is to stay away from using graffiti on the property of another.