What is vandalism? Vandalism is what happens when somebody destroys someone else’s property without permission, which can include somebody breaking windows on a property, graffiti on the sides of buildings, and damage inflicted on someone’s vehicles. You may be familiar with vandalism if you live in a city where it appears on billboards, in tunnels and more – or if you have been charged with this crime in California.

California Take on Vandalism 

Though some people see vandalism as an artistic expression or a means of revenge, it is a crime that is taken very seriously in the eyes of the law. California views it as criminal damage and malicious mischief against another person’s property. Not only can you be charged with vandalism if you destroyed property, but sometimes you can even be charged if you possessed the means to commit vandalism and had the intent to use them.


Vandalism is charged under California’s Penal Code Part 1, Title 14, Malicious Mischief and will punish those who have committed crimes that have caused monetary damage. If you have committed over $10,000 in damages, you will be charged at the highest extent with a fine of up to $50,000 and prison for up to a year. If you have destroyed less than $400 worth of property, you may only pay a fine as small as $1,000 and spend a few weeks or months in prison. The defendant may also be charged with having to clean, repair, or replace what they damaged when they vandalized.

Are There Any Defenses I Can Use?

If you have not been caught in the act, you may be able to raise the defense that it was not you at the scene of the vandalism. However, if you were caught in the act by law enforcement, you will usually use a defense that will lessen your penalties, such as an “accident” or “creative expression.” Witnesses or evidence will have to be present to make a case against you. This is why it is a good idea to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side who understands these laws. Call us today to help with your California vandalism case.