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Vandalism Prosecution – California Penal Code 594

What the Prosecution Must Prove to Convict You of Vandalism in California

To prove that the defendant is guilty of California vandalism, the prosecution must prove that:

  1. The defendant maliciously defaced with graffiti, damaged, or destroyed real or personal property;
  2. The defendant did not own the property; AND
  3. (If the prosecution is charging a felony) The amount of damage caused by vandalism was $400 or more.

Someone acts maliciously when he or she intentionally does a wrongful act or when he or she acts with the unlawful intent to annoy or injure someone else.

Graffiti or other inscribed material includes an unauthorized inscription, word, figure, mark, or design that is written, marked, etched, scratched, drawn, or painted on real or personal property.

Damage need not be permanent

To deface property under California Penal Code 594, the defacement does not need to be permanent.

Damage cannot be aggregated

The prosecution cannot use an aggregated amount of damages. In other words, if the defendant defaced four houses with $100 of damage each, the prosecution cannot add the damage from the four houses to get a total of $400 in damage and then charge a felony.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Vandalism PC 594:

Can the prosecution charge a misdemeanor even if the damage is over $400?  

A prosecutor has wide latitude to charge a person with a misdemeanor vandalism even though the alleged damage is technically over $400 and a skilled attorney can try to convince the prosecutor that a misdemeanor charge is more appropriate.

Can I be charged with gang enhancements for tagging?

You can be charged with gang enhancements for tagging if the prosecution alleges that you were tagging for the benefit of a street gang and you were in fact a member of this gang.

Can I be charged with vandalism for breaking or destroying my own property?  

If you share that property with someone else, then you can be charged with vandalism.

Related Crimes:

vandalized wall with graffiti
Have you been charged with vandalism in California?

Business Owners Cannot Sell Aerosol Paint to Minor – California Penal Code 594.1(a)(1)

It is a misdemeanor for anyone or business to sell/give aerosol paint to a minor.

Minors purchasing aerosol paint – California Penal Code 594.1(b)

It is unlawful for a minor to purchase aerosol paint. This crime is a misdemeanor.

Carrying Spray Paint on Public Streets – California Penal Code 594.1(d)-(e)

It is unlawful for anyone to carry spray paint while in a public facility like a park, playground, or recreational area. It is also unlawful to carry spray paint while on a public highway or street. These crimes are a misdemeanor.

Possessing Spray Paint with intent on committing vandalism – California Penal Code 594.2(a)

It is a misdemeanor for anyone possessing spray paint with the intent to commit vandalism or graffiti.
If you or a loved one has been charged with Vandalism in California, call Wallin and Klarich today at (877) 466-5245. We will be there when you call.

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