Vandalism Attorneys in Orange County
Arrested for Graffiti? Call an OC Criminal Lawyer
If you or somebody you know has been arrested for vandalism, you need to understand this charge isn't treated as a "slap on the wrist" as is commonly believed. Vandalism is often consider "kid's play" or something teenagers do by "tagging" walls, knocking down mailboxes, and even egging cars, which has led many people to believe the courts don't take vandalism it seriously. The reality is older teenagers who are caught often get charged as adults and can be sentenced to state prison. That said, rest assured that our Orange County vandalism defenses attorneys at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti can work to keep you out of jail, reduce your charges, or possibly even get your case dismissed. Call (714) 530-9690 now to learn how we can help you.
Understanding the Crime of Vandalism
Vandalism is defined under Penal Code (PC) 594 as,
"Every person who maliciously commits any of the following acts with respect to any real or personal property not his or her own […] Defaces with graffiti or other inscribed material."
Vandalism is a "wobbler," meaning it can be tried either as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value of the damage. If the damage was less than $400, it will be filed as a misdemeanor; if the damage was more than $400, it is filed as a felony, but could also be filed as a misdemeanor. However, if the damage was under $250, you could be charged with vandalism only as an infraction.
Proving You Did the Crime
For the district attorney to press charges, they must first show that you "deface[d] with graffiti or other inscribed material," damaged, or destroyed another person's property and did so maliciously.
Graffiti and Other Inscribed Material
Under PC 594 graffiti and "other" inscribed material is,
"Any unauthorized inscription, word, figure, mark, or design that is written, marked, etched, scratched, drawn or painted on real or personal property."
In this context, "real" means real estate and anything attached to the property. "Personal" could mean a car or items inside the property like a chair. Understand the marker used for graffiti doesn't have to be permanent for you to face vandalism charges. If you wrote something on another's property that can easily be cleaned by using a hose for a few seconds, the owner of that property can still press charges.
PC 594 allows the judge and jury to presume you did not own the property be it private, public, or commercial, and therefore didn't have permission to vandalize the property. If you jointly own your property with somebody else and you allegedly vandalize it, you could be arrested and charged with vandalism. Generally, these cases are seen in conjunction with domestic violence cases where one person may break something on or in the property and are subsequently arrested for domestic violence.
If convicted of vandalism, your punishment will depend on whether it is an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony.
- Infraction Vandalism: If convicted, you face up to a $1,000 fine and community service.
- Misdemeanor Vandalism: If convicted, you face informal probation, a fine up to $1,000, a suspension of your driver's license for up to 2 years or up to a 3 year delay if you haven't obtain your driver's license, community service, possible counseling services, keeping the damaged property or another property "graffiti free" for up to 1 year, and possibly up to 1 year in jail.
- Misdemeanor Vandalism Damage Above $400: If the amount of the damage is $400 or greater, you face, up to 1 year in a county jail and a maximum fine of $10,000.
- Felony Vandalism: If the amount of the damage is $400 or greater, and you are convicted of felony vandalism under Penal Code 545 PC, you face the same fines and up to 1year in county jail or up to between 16 months and 3 years in the California State Prison.
This is a very serious charge that could send you to prison, which is why you need to call the Orange County criminal attorneys at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti at (714) 530-9690 right now for aggressive defense.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.