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Vandalism Laws in California

Although writing graffiti on a wall or smashing someone's mailbox with a baseball bat seems like fun for teenagers and young adults, malicious damaging or defacing property is considered a crime is known as vandalism in California.

This criminal offense is a wobbler, which means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Essentially, if the amount of damage involved in the vandalism case is worth more than $400, the crime is a felony offense.

A misdemeanor vandalism charge is punishable by a maximum one-year jail sentence, a fine of up to $1,000 or $5,000 if the defendant has a previous vandalism conviction, driver's license suspension for up to two years, and community service. A felony vandalism charge carries a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine not exceeding $10,000 or $50,000 if the amount of damage was worth $10,000 or more.

In addition, a person accused of vandalism can also be charged with the following crimes:

  • Trespassing – If you enter another person's property without their permission, it is trespassing. This crime is a misdemeanor offense in California.
  • Burglary – If you enter someone else's property with the intention to commit a felony or petty theft, it is considered burglary. This crime is a felony offense if it involves an inhabited house or structure.
  • Arson – If vandalism involves setting someone's property on fire, the defendant can also be charged with arson. This crime is generally a felony offense.

If you have been accused of vandalism in Ventura County, contact Wilfert Law P.C. today at 805-324-6777 and request a free consultation.