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Los Angeles vandalism charges need to be taken seriously. It’s important for defendants to understand that there is more at stake than a broken window or a little spray paint on the side of the building. Los Angeles police and prosecutors have been particularly zealous in recent years as they try to reduce the amount of vandalism that happens in and around the city. This leads them to press for maximum penalties in virtually every case. Serious jail time, huge fines and community service may be just the beginning of the consequences unless you engage the services of an experienced Los Angeles vandalism attorney.
What Is Vandalism in Los Angeles?
According to state law, vandalism is the malicious act of damage or destruction to property that does not belong to the person who is accused of causing the damage. This means that you cannot be charged with vandalism for breaking your own window or tagging the fence at your house. However, if that window or fence did not belong to you, then you may be looking at some serious criminal charges. The prosecutor must also show that you had malicious intent with regard to the property damage. If the damage was purely an accident, then it would be extremely difficult for the prosecution to prove vandalism charges against you.
A wide variety of actions may constitute vandalism in Los Angeles. Some of these actions may include:
-Keying a car
-Damaging bus or subway seats
-Defacing a road sign
-Tagging on highway overpasses
-Etching on windows
-Knocking over tombstones
-Stealing emblems from cars
-Carving desks at school
-Causing damage to a bus stop
Other actions may also be considered vandalism under California law. If you have been accused of any of these crimes, then you need to speak with a qualified Los Angeles vandalism attorney.
Penalties for Vandalism in Los Angeles
The consequences for a vandalism conviction are serious whether they are charged at the misdemeanor or felony level. Prosecutors decide if they will pursue misdemeanor or felony vandalism charges based on a number of factors. Perhaps the most important deciding factor is the monetary value of the damage caused. If the damage costs $400 or less, then misdemeanor charges are likely. If the damage is anything more than $400, the defendant will probably be charged at the felony level. However, there are circumstances in which a misdemeanor charge is turned into a felony. A person who has a criminal history or who has been convicted of vandalism before may be automatically charged with a felony even if the value of the damage is less than $400. Similarly, if the prosecution believes that the act of vandalism was committed in an effort to advance the agenda of a criminal street gang, they will pursue felony vandalism charges. Even worse, if the prosecution shows that the vandalism has a gang connection, then a conviction will mean receiving a strike under California’s Three Strikes law.
A misdemeanor vandalism conviction in California may result in a sentence to county jail, a term of probation and the requirement to perform community service. Many people convicted of this offense are also required to pay a fine. Rather than merely paying for the approximately $400 in damage, the defendant is ordered to pay between $1,000 and $5,000. Clearly, Los Angeles police and prosecutors take these charges seriously.
At the felony level, the defendant may be sentenced to a term in county jail or state prison. Fines may range up to as much as $10,000. The defendant may be ordered to participate in a graffiti clean-up program.
In some cases, the defendant who is convicted on vandalism charges in Los Angeles may have their driver’s license suspended. Even if the license is not suspended, it’s important to note that the conviction may be noted in the individual’s driving record, and this may remain on that record for up to seven years. It is crucial that you do not plead guilty or no contest to vandalism charges in Los Angeles. Work with a qualified California vandalism lawyer instead.
Contact a Los Angeles Vandalism Attorney
It is the job of a criminal defense attorney to seek the best possible outcome for their client. Sometimes, this includes getting the charges reduced or dropped. Your experienced Los Angeles vandalism lawyer may be able to get felony charges reduced to the misdemeanor level or be able to get misdemeanor charges dropped to a mere infraction. In some cases, it is possible to have the vandalism or graffiti charges completely dropped. Your criminal defense lawyer may also be able to seek lesser penalties that might include a shorter jail sentence, minimal fines and a reduced requirement for probation or community service.
The sooner you hire a capable Los Angeles vandalism lawyer, the sooner he can begin defending you in court. It’s important to keep in mind that the government has an attorney to represent their interests. You need the same. With the help of our practitioners, dozens of Los Angeles vandalism defendants have been able to leave these charges behind them. They’ve gone on to lead exemplary lives, thanks in large part to the vigorous legal defense they received from our attorneys.
Do not speak to the police or the prosecutor’s office without having a lawyer present. Contact a qualified Los Angeles vandalism attorney today.