It does not really matter where you live, but you have most likely come across vandalism. Vandalism can occur in a variety of ways and does not necessarily have to mean graffiti on a property wall. However, according to California Penal Code 594 PC it is illegal to commit vandalism. This article will provide a summary of the elements of the crime, which the prosecution must prove in order for the defendant to be found guilty.
What Does the Crime Entail?
As mentioned before, vandalism has a certain connotation related to graffiti and while graffiti can be involved, the crime can actually be applied more broadly. The law defines the crime as the following: a person maliciously defaces, damages or destroys the property that they did not own (or own by themselves). Graffiti is included in the section regarding defacing property, as graffiti can be used to inscribe (write, draw, etc.) on someone’s property. An important aspect here is that the graffiti must not have been allowed by the property owner. However, the other elements of the crime can include damaging another person’s property like their personal possessions.
Penalties for Vandalism
Vandalism is split into a misdemeanor or felony crime depending on the value of the damage. For damage that falls under $400, the crime is a misdemeanor. In this case, the defendant faces up to a year in jail and could also be made to pay heavy fines. If a felony vandalism charge is applied, the defendant faces up to three years in jail. The amount that must be paid in fines will depend on the charge and context of the crime. The defendant may possibly serve probation as well.