A person commits the crime of vandalism if he or she intentionally and maliciously defaces, damages or destroys property that is not their own.
“Tagging” a wall, breaking a window, or writing on a glass window with a marker pen all can be charged as vandalism. Depending on the amount of monetary damage caused, vandalism can be punished as a felony or a misdemeanor. There can be additional consequences: In addition to jail time the court may order payment of fines, participation in a graffiti removal or community service program, and reimbursement for the damage to the owner of the property. In addition, Vehicle Code Section 13202.6 requires the court to suspend the driver’s license of a person who is convicted of vandalism, for up to two years, although the length of the suspension can be reduced by community service.
As for any crime, the prosecutor must prove that vandalism was committed by the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. In some cases, the evidence is circumstantial, making the case difficult to prove, and the prosecutor may be willing to allow the defendant to plea to another misdemeanor with less serious consequences, or to try a period of “diversion.” In other cases, it may be possible to enlist the cooperation of the owner of the property to agree to a “civil compromise”, with payment of the full amount of the damage by the victim and dismissal of the criminal case.
If you are charged with vandalism you should explore your options with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can assist you. Please call Attorney Robbi Cook at (510)208-5051 for a free consultation.