Vandalism in California under $400 is a misdemeanor and becomes a felony if the damage is $400 or more. As a misdemeanor, it is punishable by up to 12 months county jail, $1000 fine and restitution for damages. Additionally there can be a loss of driving privilege. The punishment for a felony is up to a 3 year prison term, $10,000 fine and restitution. See California Penal Code 594 for additional information concerning vandalism and potential penalties. These penalties can increase depending on a prior record of similar conduct or damage over $10,000.
Vandalism requires a person maliciously destroy, deface or damage any real or personl peoperty not their own. It can be actual damage or destruction of property or defacing property with grafitti or other means. Restitution is always ordered to repair or replace the damge. Many times in domestic violence cases there may be a vandalism charge where one of the parties has damaged or destroyed community property because it is jointly owned and not the sole property of one of the spouses. If the damage or defacement is not done maliciously, you may still be liable for the damage, but it is not the crime of vandalism.
This crime can be the result of different factors. Sometimes an anger management program may be helpful in negotiating the case along with restitution. A civil Compromise where the victim agrees to a settlement can also be used sometimes to get charges dismissed. Like any criminal case, while the law violated may be the same, the unique factors concerning the crime and the individuals involved are important in trying to get charges dismissed, reduced or penalties minimized. At Christoph Law Offices, we have handled hundreds of these cases, both misdemeanors and felonies, over more than 30 years across from the Vista Courthouse. Call us at 760-670-3885 for a free consultation and let us help you get the best resolution in your case.