Property crimes are on the rise in Orange County, according to
recent statistics. From 2011 to 2012, property crimes in Santa Ana alone jumped from 6,575
to 7,389. This is in contrast to statewide statistics, which suggest that
property crimes like vandalism are on the decline. The state of California
reports that in 2012, there were 6,529 vandalism arrests while in the
year prior there were 6,540 vandalism arrests.
Vandalism can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, which is usually
dependent on the dollar amount of the damaged property. Vandalism can
also be charged as a felony if the defacing was done to state or government property.
According to § 594 of the California Penal Code, vandalism is:
Every person who maliciously commits any of the following acts with respect
to any real or personal property not his or her own, in cases other than
those specified by state law, is guilty of vandalism: (1) Defaces with
graffiti or other inscribed material. (2) Damages. (3) Destroys.
Penalty for $400 or More in Damage
Anyone who commits $400 or more in damage can face a penalty of up to
one year in jail and a fine up to $10,000 (unless the damage totaled $10,000
or more, in which case the maximum fine is $50,000).
Penalty for $400 or Less in Damage
Anyone who commits $400 or less in damage can face up to one year in jail
and/or a maximum $5,000 fine.
In some cases, the judge will require the offender as part of their sentence
to clean up, repair, or replace the property they defaced. Community service
and counseling are also potential penalties for vandalism.
When is vandalism a felony?
Vandalism can be charged as a felony when the estimated cost of damages
is more than $400, but not always. The California Penal Code also notes
that vandalism can be a felony when the property is a church, synagogue,
or other religious institution (§ 594.3). The punishment for felony
vandalism can be a fine and/or imprisonment – maximum $20,000 and
up to a year in jail.
If you or someone you know was arrested for felony or misdemeanor
vandalism in Orange County,
contact The Law Office of Barney B. Gibbs in
Tustin, California. We represent clients throughout Orange County, such as
Fullerton, and beyond. Attorney Barney Gibbs has more than 30 years of experience
in the Orange County criminal justice system and is here to help you!
Call today for a free consultation.