California PC 594 – Vandalism

April 27, 2015

Common examples of vandalism charges stem from “keying” someone’s car, graffiti, or damaging another person’s home. Vandalism is a misdemeanor offense but can carry harsh consequences if convicted. Usually the evidence against someone accused of vandalism is weak leaving room for a criminal defense attorney to create reasonable doubt in the prosecutor’s case. Additionally, there are a number of defenses available for someone accused of committing vandalism.

What is the Legal Definition for Vandalism?

In California, Vandalism is defined by Penal Code 594(a) pc which provides, “Every person who maliciously commits any of the following acts with respect to any real or personal property not his or her own, in cases other than those specified by state law is guilty of vandalism.”

Vandalism can occur on any of the following or more:

• Real Property
• Vehicles
• Signs
• Fixtures
• Furnishings

What Must the Prosecutor Prove?

In order to prove that someone is guilty of vandalism, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. Defendant maliciously defaced, damaged, or destroyed property

2. Defendant did not own the property

[If Applicable]

3. The amount in damages exceeded $400

What are the Legal Defenses to Vandalism?

  • False accusation by your accuser
  • Mistaken Identification
  • The damages occurred on accident and you did not act maliciously
  • The damaged amount was not over $400.00

What is the Punishment for Vandalism in California?

The crucial element when determining punishment is the amount of damages suffered. For instance, if the amount exceeds $400 then one can expect to face harsher punishment versus damages less than $400. Generally, the punishment for Vandalism is:

• Up to One Year in the County Jail

• Fine up to $1,000 or up to $10,000

• Anger Management or Counseling Classes

• Probation Supervision

• Temporary Loss of Search and Seizure Rights

• Stay Away or Protective Order

Contact Us to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you have been arrested, charged, or are under investigation for vandalism under PC 594, then contact an experienced Newport Beach criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers to schedule a free confidential consultation concerning your rights and defenses.

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