Under California law, "criminal mischief" or "malicious mischief" refers to the act of vandalism, graffiti or defacing property. Criminal mischief is when someone intentionally defaces, damages destroys another property. If you or a loved one has been accused of criminal mischief, the consequences can be serious. Please talk to an experienced defense lawyer to better understand your legal rights and options.
California Penal Code Section 594 (a) states: "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."
If the amount of damage to the property is $400 and under $10,000, the offense is punishable by up to one year in county jail or state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the damages are under $400, a defendant could face up to one year in county jail and up to $5,000 in fines. It the value of the damaged property is $10,000 or more, the defendant if convicted could face prison time and a fine of up to $50,000.
A majority of criminal mischief cases are prosecuted as misdemeanors. However, the charges would depend on the circumstances of the case and the prior criminal history of the defendant. In some cases where the vandalism involves racial epithets or symbols that portray hatred toward a particular race or group, the defendant could face added hate crime charges or enhancements.
No criminal mischief charge should be taken lightly. If you or a loved one is facing charges of criminal mischief, malicious mischief, vandalism or graffiti, please contact experienced criminal defense lawyer Daniel E. Kann. We will provide you with the help and guidance you need to navigate through a complex legal process and make available the resources you need to obtain the best possible outcome in your case. Call our offices today to schedule your free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.