California Vandalism Graffiti Law Penal Code 594
What does the prosecutor have to show to prove that I am guilty of vandalism?
The prosecutor must prove that you maliciously damaged or destroyed real or personal property.
This conduct can include defacement with graffiti or with other inscribed material. The prosecutor must also prove that you did not own the property or own the property with someone else.
What potential consequences am I facing if I am convicted of this crime?
If you are convicted of felony vandalism, you may be facing up to three years in the California State Prison or up to one year in county jail. You may also have to pay up to $10,000 in fines, or up to $50,000 if the amount of the damage was $10,000 or higher. If you are convicted of misdemeanor vandalism, you may be facing up to one year in the county jail.
The severity of a vandalism charge can increase if the vandalism was motivated by bias, potentially turning the offense into a hate crime.
What can your attorneys do to defend me against vandalism charges?
The Los Angeles vandalism lawyers at Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, will thoroughly review the discovery in your case and see if a defense or defenses are available.
Based on the facts of your case, our team may be able to argue that you did not act maliciously. Someone acts maliciously when they intentionally do a wrongful act or when they act with the illegal intent to annoy or injure another person.
If the damage was committed accidentally, negligently or otherwise not deliberately, we may be able to argue that there was no malice involved, even if damage occurred.
If there is a gang enhancement attached to the vandalism charge or you are otherwise accused of inscribing graffiti, we will carefully examine whether the vandalism was actually motivated by gang affiliation. If you have no criminal record and/or the prosecution has no evidence of your participation or involvement in a gang, we may be able to have the gang enhancement dropped.
If there are no witnesses against you, or the witnesses against you have a grudge or resentment against you, we may be able to argue that you did not commit the vandalism and are innocent of the offense. Vandalism cases often arise in the context of domestic violence, raising questions as to whether the accusing party (spouse, significant other, ex-spouse or ex-significant others) is actually telling the truth. We may be able to demonstrate that the accuser is biased against you and made up the allegations.
Moreover, because Cal. Pen. Code §594 is a wobbler, we may be able to convince the prosecutor, or motion the court, to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor, or even to an infraction.
Vandalism is prosecuted aggressively because of its destructive and disruptive quality. If the vandalism appears to reflect the work of a gang or promotes the identity of a gang or tag crew, you can expect the prosecutor to allege that it was done for the benefit of a gang. This can add years of additional imprisonment to your sentence if you are convicted. Gang-related crimes are looked upon with great contempt by prosecutors.
For these reasons, vandalism is not something to handle lightly and it is not recommended that you represent yourself in something as serious. You require the services of an aggressive, experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer. Robert Ernenwein is an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer with nearly 40 years of experience defending persons accused of vandalism. Our extensive experience and knowledge give us the tools needed to successfully challenge vandalism charges.
There are a host of issues we can evaluate based on our analysis of the police reports, witness statements and other evidence on file. Based on our findings, we may be able to successfully thwart a criminal prosecution in court or otherwise weaken the case against you.