Vandalism (PC 594)

Vandalism is any damage or destruction of personal property which is owned by someone else. While vandalism is usually a misdemeanor, a criminal record can have long-lasting effects on jobs, schools, and professional licenses.

Vandalism 

(a) 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:

      1. Defaces with graffiti or other inscribed material.
      2. Damages.
      3. Destroys.

Examples of common vandalism acts?

      • Scratching a car with a key (keying a car).
      • Spray painting a wall or house (graffiti).
      • Breaking a window.
      • Destroying a neighbor’s fence or yard.
      • Destroying machinery to stop the lumber industry from cutting trees.
      • Destroying cars in a car sales lot for protesting against the use of fossil fuels.
      • Destroying or harming stores during a riot or protest.
      • Destroying or harming police cars during a riot or protest.

The penalty for a vandalism charge?

If the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction is four hundred dollars ($400) or more, vandalism is punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or if the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction is ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or more, by a fine of not more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.

If the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction is less than four hundred dollars ($400), vandalism is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.

If the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction is less than four hundred dollars ($400), and the defendant has been previously convicted of vandalism or affixing graffiti or other inscribed material under Section 594, 594.3, 594.4, 640.5, 640.6, or 640.7, vandalism is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.

Upon conviction of any person under this section for acts of vandalism consisting of defacing property with graffiti or other inscribed materials, the court shall, when appropriate and feasible, in addition to any punishment imposed under subdivision (b), order the defendant to clean up, repair, or replace the damaged property himself or herself, or order the defendant, and his or her parents or guardians if the defendant is a minor, to keep the damaged property or another specified property in the community free of graffiti for up to one year. Participation of a parent or guardian is not required under this subdivision if the court deems this participation to be detrimental to the defendant, or if the parent or guardian is a single parent who must care for young children. If the court finds that graffiti cleanup is inappropriate, the court shall consider other types of community service, where feasible.

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