Are you facing criminal charges for vandalizing property in San Diego, CA? Not every arrest has to lead to a conviction. Whether you were charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, an experienced San Diego vandalism lawyer at Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers can build the aggressive defense you need to protect your future.
Our lawyers have years of experience handling criminal cases across Southern California. We’ve gained a reputation for providing strong and effective legal counsel when it matters the most.
If you were charged with vandalism, it’s important to get in touch with a defense lawyer immediately. Call our law firm in San Diego, California at (619) 357-4977 to schedule a free consultation so that we can start fighting for you today.
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How Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers Can Help if You Were Charged With Vandalism in San Diego
There are countless vandalism law firms to choose from. However, not every law firm has the experience and resources to effectively defend your case. Over the years, our San Diego criminal defense attorneys have helped countless clients fight criminal charges and win.
At Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers, we’re committed to minimizing the effects of your arrest. We know the tricks that prosecutors will try to use against you – and we know how to help you fight back.
When you choose our lawyers to protect your legal rights, you can rest assured that you’ll have a lawyer to:
- Make sure you understand all of your legal rights and options
- Investigate, interview witnesses, and gather evidence to build your defense
- Carefully examine the prosecution’s evidence to identify any holes in the state’s case
- Take steps to discredit the prosecution’s evidence and arguments when possible
- Negotiate to have your charges reduced or the case dismissed if possible
- Fiercely defend you in court if a trial becomes necessary
The only way to protect yourself is to proactively build a strong defense. Don’t make the mistake of taking vandalism charges lightly. Instead, call our San Diego vandalism lawyers for a free case review today.
Overview of the Laws Regarding Vandalism in California
It is a criminal offense to maliciously destroy or deface another person’s property in the state of California. California Penal Code Section 594 defines vandalism.
Any of the following qualify as “vandalism” under California law:
- Defacing someone else’s property with graffiti or other inscribed material
- Damaging someone else’s property
- Defacing someone else’s property
“Property” includes any type of property, including real estate, vehicles, and personal property like clothing and household items.
If you’re accused of damaging real property, vehicles, signs, fixtures, furnishings, or property that belongs to any public entity or the federal government, prosecutors will presume that you didn’t own the property and that you did not have permission to deface or damage the property.
Elements of a Vandalism Charge
To convict you of vandalism, the prosecution must prove every element of the criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt. In vandalism cases, that means proving that you:
- Acted with malicious intent
- Damaged or destroyed the property, or defaced it with graffiti or other inscribed material
- The property didn’t belong to you
To prove that you acted maliciously, the prosecution must show that you committed the act with an unlawful intent to annoy or injure someone else, or you intentionally did a wrongful act.
Any type of unauthorized inscription, word, figure, mark, or design can qualify as “vandalism” if it is written, marked, etched, scratched, drawn, or painted on another person’s real or personal property.
Common Examples of Vandalism
You can be charged with vandalism anytime you’re accused of defacing, damaging or destroying another person’s property.
Some common examples of vandalism include:
- Spray painting the walls of a public building or bridge
- Slashing someone else’s car tires
- Destroying a romantic partner’s property during an argument
- Keying another person’s vehicle
- Carving your initials into a public bench
- Throwing rocks at someone’s window
- Destroying the seats on a bus
In short, any type of malicious property destruction can qualify as vandalism.
What are the Penalties for Vandalism in San Diego, California?
Vandalism is a “wobbler” offense under California criminal laws. That means it can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. Like other property crimes, the penalties for vandalism often depend on the value of the property that has been defaced or destroyed.
If the value of the property was $400 or more, vandalism is punishable by:
- Up to one year in county jail
- A financial penalty of up to $10,000
If the value of the destroyed property was $10,000 or more, you could face three years in prison and a financial penalty of up to $50,000.
In cases where the property value was less than $400, vandalism is punishable by:
- Up to one year in county jail
- A financial penalty of up to $1,000
However, even if the property value was under $400, repeat offenders can be sentenced to one year in county jail, $5,000 in penalties, or both if they’ve previously been convicted of vandalism.
In addition to jail time and monetary penalties, vandalism conviction can carry significant collateral consequences, including:
- You could be ordered to clean up the property or pay restitution to compensate the owner
- A criminal record, which can create employment and housing problems
- Difficulties in family court, including problems with child custody or visitation
- Immigration problems
- Community service
- Loss of voting rights in felony vandalism cases
- Loss of your right to own a firearm in felony vandalism cases
In cases involving juvenile vandalism, it’s much more likely that the judge will order community service or require the juvenile to clean up the property instead of jail time.
Vandalism may not be a violent crime, but that doesn’t mean you should take the charges lightly. It’s never too early to start building your defense if you’ve been accused of vandalism in San Diego. If you’ve been arrested or charged with vandalism, call Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced San Diego vandalism attorney today.
Enhanced Penalties for Hate Crime Charges
Some acts of vandalism are much more serious than others. California courts take cases involving hate crimes extremely seriously. If you’re accused of damaging property that belongs to a religious group or members of a certain race, nationality, or sexual orientation, you could face enhanced charges.
Defacing property owned by a protected group won’t automatically qualify as a hate crime. However, if the writing or defacement was threatening or targeted toward the group, you could face additional jail time.
Vandalism that qualifies as a hate crime is a felony. For example, you could be facing hate crime charges if you’re accused of vandalizing a church, mosque, synagogue, or place of worship – and the prosecution can show the vandalism was committed for the purpose of intimidating and deterring people from freely exercising their religious beliefs.
What Defenses Can Be Raised if I’m Arrested for Vandalism in San Diego?
Taking prompt legal action can greatly increase your chances of having the charges downgraded or your case dismissed before it gets to trial. While it might seem that vandalism is always intentional, valid defense strategies do exist. Having a skilled defense attorney in your corner greatly improves your chances of securing a positive outcome.
At Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers, our skilled criminal lawyers in San Diego can help you build the most persuasive defense strategy possible. Our goal is always to have the charges dropped if at all possible in your case. We have years of experience handling criminal cases. We’ll carefully examine the facts of your case to form the most aggressive defense that’s custom-tailored to your case.
Depending on the circumstances, elements of an effective legal defense may include:
- Actual innocence defenses, including alibi defenses if you were falsely accused
- False allegations
- The property was damaged or defaced accidentally (you lacked the intent to maliciously damage property)
- You owned the property in question
- The property owner gave you permission to commit the property damage or defacement
- You mistakenly believed that you owned the property in question, perhaps because of a dispute over property ownership
Perpetrators often run off after committing vandalism. It’s possible that a witness or law enforcement made a mistake about your identity. Mistaken identity defenses are common and may be used to demonstrate your innocence.
Vandalism is a serious crime. However, there are available defenses that can be used to minimize the consequences. To learn more about creating an attorney-client relationship, call our law firm in San Diego County to schedule a free case evaluation today.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a San Diego Vandalism Lawyer
The quality of your vandalism defense lawyer can make or break your case. If you were accused of damaging or destroying another person’s property, contact an experienced San Diego vandalism lawyer today. At Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers, we offer a free consultation, so there’s no risk in learning more about getting the legal representation you deserve.