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California Penal Code §§ 594(a)(1) – (3) – Vandalism

California Penal Code §§ 594(a)(1) – (3) – Vandalism

California Penal Code [CPC] §§594(a)(1)-(3)Vandalism – California makes it illegal to deface, damage, or destroy property that is not your own. If you destroy government property, it will be presumed that you didn't have the right to destroy the property, for purposes of charging you.

Vandalism is punished based on the value of the property. If you are convicted of the Felony form of Vandalism, you face up to three years in a state prison, a fine of up to $50,000, or both prison and a fine.

What Does California Penal Code §§594(a)(1) – (3) [Vandalism] Prohibit?

In sum, to be guilty of violating the Vandalism law under CPC §§594(a)(1) – (3), you must:

  • Deface, damage, or destroy property; AND,
  • Cause damage valued at $400 or more; AND,
  • Not own the property yourself or with someone else.

Defining “Vandalism” Under California Penal Code §§594(a)(1) – (3)

To convict you under CPC §§594(a)(1) – (3), the prosecutor must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Acted Maliciously: You acted maliciously;[1] AND,
  • Defaced, damaged or destroyed Property: You defaced real or personal property with graffiti[2] or you damaged real or personal property, or you destroyed real or personal property; AND,
  • DID NOT OWN THE PROPERTY: You neither owned the property singly nor with someone else; AND,
  • VALUE: The value of damage, defacement, or destruction exceeded $400.

Example: Defendant Donny goes to a museum where the work of Victim Violet is on display. Donny is unfamiliar with her work. When he sees a drawing made of crayons, and crayons dangling from strings tied to the frame, he assumes he's supposed to draw on the canvas. When he does so, Violet is furious. She has him arrested for defacing a $100,000 piece.[3] He's charged under §594(a)(1). Is Donny guilty?

Conclusion: Donny willfully drew on Violet's canvas. He did not have her permission. The value of the drawing would be presumed to exceed $400 under these circumstances. Were these the only elements of the offense, Donny would be guilty. But Donny wrongly believed he was meant to use the crayons to add to the image. He didn't act maliciously. If even one element of an offense cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, the courts in this country must find for the accused. Donny, it follows, is innocent.

Penalties For Vandalism Under CPC §§594(a)(1)-(3)

Misdemeanor Vandalism

If you're convicted of misdemeanor vandalism, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to one (1) year in a county jail; OR,
  • A fine of up to $1000 (one-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both a fine and imprisonment.[4]

Felony Vandalism

If you are charged with violating Section 594 as a felony, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to sentenced to three (3) years in a state prison;[5] OR,
  • A fine of up to $50,000 (fifty-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both imprisonment and a fine.[6]

As stated previously, Vandalism is punished based on the value of the property involved. This makes the crime a “wobbler”[7] under California law. If your act of vandalism causes damage of $400 or more, you may be charged with a felony. Age, the facts of the case, and prior criminal record are usually significant factors in making the charging decision.

If you commit vandalism that causes less than $400 worth of damage, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. The penalty may be one (1) year in a county jail, a fine of up to $1000 (one-thousand dollars), or both a fine and imprisonment.[8] However, a felony conviction, involving $400 or more worth of damage, can result in up to three (3) years in a state prison,[9] a fine of up to $50,000 (fifty-thousand dollars), or both imprisonment and a fine.[10]

Note: If you are convicted three times under Section 594, you'll serve as long as one (1) year in jail or state prison for the third offense even if you were granted Probation (permitting you to serve at least part of your sentence outside state custody) in both of your other convictions.[11]

Defenses Against California Penal Code §§594(a)(1)-(3) – Vandalism

Three common defenses against a charge of Vandalism under CPC §§594(a)(1) – (3) are:

You've Been Falsely Accused

Example: Defendant Dean ends a relationship with Victim Vera. She is angry and resentful. Intent on harming him, she spray-paints an obscenity on her front door. It costs $450 to repaint. Then she accuses Dean of vandalizing her house. He's arrested and charged under §594(a)(1). Dean insists he didn't do it – which, he says, should be obvious by looking at the handwriting on the door. Is he innocent or guilty?

Conclusion: As the facts make clear, Vera is responsible for the harm to her own property. She was angry with Dean and used vandalism as means to retaliate against him. (A handwriting sample could prove his innocence.) Dean is not guilty. He has been falsely accused.   

You Were Mistaken For Someone Else

Example: Defendant Dick has been arrested for vandalizing the UCLA Bookstore. Someone in a plain black sweatshirt, black jeans, gloves, a ski mask, and white tennis shoes threw a trash can through the $2000 front window. Dick is arrested days after the incident and charged under CPC §594(a)(3) because he is wearing a plain black sweatshirt and white tennis shoes. The same type of shoes is owned by thousands of students and residents. Dick says he has been mistaken for someone else. Is he innocent?

Conclusion: Police couldn't connect anyone with the crime because the offender couldn't be identified. Even his hands were covered. But police saw Dick in a plain black sweatshirt and white shoes of a kind owned by thousands of others - days after the incident - and arrested him. Thus, when Dick says he was mistaken for another, there's reasonable doubt whether the police arrested the right person. He should be acquitted because he was mistaken for someone else.

You Didn't Act Maliciously

Example: Defendant Deirdre, a high school student, goes on a school tour of a Disney museum in Burbank. Boyfriend, another student, accompanies her. At one point, they slip off together, looking for a place to be alone, and hide behind a display case containing a glass sculpture of Goofy. She knocks it over, doing $30,000 worth of damage.[12] Now she has been charged under §594(a)(2). Is Deidre guilty? 

Conclusion: Deirdre damaged the display, which, of course, she did not own, and which was worth a great deal more than $400. But the facts do not suggest that Deirdre acted maliciously. She wanted to hide somewhere with Boyfriend, not to damage the sculpture. Nor did she want to annoy or injure anyone by knocking over the display case. Thus, Deidre is innocent. She didn't act maliciously.  

Related Offenses

Note: The crimes below are described generally as “related” because they're frequently charged with §§594(a)(1) – (3) and/or have common elements the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

California law includes several offenses related to Vandalism, including: Active Participation In Criminal Street Gang (CPC §§186.22(a),(e)(20)), Domestic Battery (CPC §243.1(e)(1)), Corporal Injury On Spouse, Cohabitant Or Significant Other (CPC §§273.5(a),(b)), Arson (CPC §451), Burglary (CPC §459), Possession Of Burglary Tools (CPC §466), Damaging A Telephone Or Electrical Line (CPC §591), Possession Of Vandalism Tools (CPC §594.2(a)), Trespass (CPC §602(m)), and Defacing Or Interfering With A Traffic Control Device (California Vehicle Code [CVC] §21464(a)).

Active Participation In Criminal Street Gang

Active Participation In Criminal Street Gang (CPC §§186.22(a), (e)(20))[13] prohibits actively participating in a criminal street gang if you know that its members engage in, or have engaged in, criminal gang activity, and willfully promote, further, or assist members of that gang in felonious criminal conduct. Section 186.22 is related to Vandalism because gangs often use graffiti in their activity, permitting prosecutors to charge under both Code sections in the same trial.

California's “Three Strikes” system applies to Penal Code §186.22.[14] If you receive three “strikes” on your record, you will spend at least twenty-five (25) years in a state prison.[15] However, if you're convicted under the state Street Gang Crime Enhancement for a first-time act of Felony Vandalism, the penalty, without aggravation,[16] may be:

  • A term of up to five (5) years in a state prison.[17]

Note: Section 186.22 applies in addition to any other sentence or fine you may receive.

California Criminal Jury Instructions – Active Participation In Criminal Street Gang

To convict you under CPC §§186.22(a), (e)(20), the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You actively participated in a criminal street gang. You knew at the time that members of the gang engaged in, or had engaged in, a pattern of criminal gang activity. You also willfully assisted, furthered, or promoted felonious conduct by members of the gang either by directly and actively committing a felony offense or by aiding and abetting[18] a felony offense.

Example: Defendant Dominic, a member of the LA Dragons, a group listed as a criminal street gang by the District Attorney's Office, is driving through Downtown LA. Police have no evidence that he has committed a crime or abetted any criminal act committed by the gang. Nonetheless, when he's arrested on a misdemeanor count of having unpaid parking tickets, he's charged under CPC §186.22(a). Dominic insists that the enhancement does not apply in his case. Is Dominic correct?

Conclusion: Dominic is a member of a group regarded by authorities as a criminal street gang. It is reasonable to assume he knows these facts. However, Dominic was arrested without evidence of committing a felonious crime or of aiding and abetting a felony in service of the gang. Dominic was arrested simply for having unpaid parking tickets. Therefore, Dominic is correct about the enhancement.   

Domestic Battery

California's law forbidding Domestic Battery (CPC §243(e)(1)) applies whenever Battery is committed “against a spouse, a person with whom [you're] cohabiting, a person who is the parent of [your] child, former spouse, fiancé, or fiancée, or a person with whom [you] currently [have], or [ ] previously had, a dating or engagement relationship.”[19]  The crime is related to Vandalism because acts of vandalism often accompany domestic violence, allowing the prosecution to charge you with both in the same trial.

If you're convicted of Domestic Battery, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to one (1) year in a county jail; OR,
  • A fine of up to $2,000 (two-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both a fine and imprisonment; OR,
  • Probation conditioned on completing a batterer's treatment program or a similar class.[20]

You can always find more information in the Domestic Violence section of the Kann California Defense Group's website. Feel free to contact the Kann Defense Group offices in Santa Clarita, Ventura, Encino, Pasadena or Los Angeles/Los Angeles County. Your call will go directly to a lawyer. It is guaranteed.

California Criminal Jury Instructions – Domestic Battery

To convict you under CPC §243(e)(1), the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You willfully and unlawfully touched a person in a harmful or offensive manner. The person touched is your spouse (or former spouse), or your cohabitant (or former cohabitant), or your fiancé[e] or a person you were dating, or a person to whom you were engaged, or your child's mother or father. Finally, you didn't act in self-defense or in defense of someone else.

Example: Defendant Dani spends the night with Victim Vincente. The next day, she convinces herself they're in a relationship. That night, Vincente makes it clear that he does not want to date her and never did. Furious, Dani strikes Vincente, breaking his nose. She's later arrested and charged under §243(e)(1). Is Dani guilty under these circumstances?

Conclusion: Dani struck Vincente hard enough to break his nose. She wasn't protecting herself. These are elements of the crime. However, by Vincente's own admission, they were not in a relationship. This was the basis of Dani's anger. Furthermore, the facts do not establish any other relationship between the two. Given these circumstances, Dani can be convicted of a crime[21] – but she is innocent as charged.

Corporal Injury On Spouse, Cohabitant, Or Significant Other

 

California's law regarding Corporal Injury On Spouse, Cohabitant Or Significant Other (CPC §§273.5(a) and (b)) applies whenever anyone “willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a”[22] person listed in the statute, which includes spouses, cohabitants and significant others. The offense is related to Vandalism because the crime of Corporal Injury On A Spouse, Cohabitant, Or Significant Other often occurs alongside acts constituting vandalism, which permits the prosecution to charge you with both in the same trial.

Since a violation under CPC §§273.5(a) and (b) can be charged as either a Misdemeanor or a Felony,    depending on the facts of your case, Corporal Injury On A Spouse, Cohabitant, Or Significant Other is a “wobbler”[23] crime in California. If you're convicted of the Felony form of Corporal Injury On Spouse, Cohabitant, Or Significant Other, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to four (4) years in state prison; OR,
  • A fine of up to $6,000 (six-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both a fine and imprisonment.[24]

You can always find more information in the Battery section of the Kann California Defense Group's website. Feel free to contact the Kann Defense Group offices in Santa Clarita, Ventura, Encino, Pasadena or Los Angeles/Los Angeles County. Your call will always go directly to a lawyer. It's always guaranteed.

California Criminal Jury Instructions – Corporal Injury On A Spouse, Cohabitant, Or Significant Other

To convict you under CPC §§273.5(a) and (b), the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You willfully and unlawfully inflicted a physical injury on your spouse (or former spouse), or on a cohabitant (or former cohabitant), or on the mother or father of your child, or someone to whom you were engaged, or someone you were dating. The injury resulted in a traumatic condition. Finally, you didn't act in self-defense or in defense of someone else.

Example: Defendant Dave admits that he willfully attacked Victim Vern, his husband, by choking him, leaving small bruises on Vern's neck. He admits that he wasn't defending himself at the time. Having been charged under CPC §§273.5(a),(b)(1), he insists nonetheless that he's innocent because choking that leaves minor bruising isn't “a traumatic condition.” Is Dave correct?  

Conclusion: Dave willfully inflicted injury on his spouse. He wasn't defending himself when he did it. These are elements of the offense. The only remaining question is whether choking resulting in minor bruising qualifies as a “traumatic condition.” California statutory law replies that it is.[25] Therefore, since choking leaving any amount of bruising is a “traumatic condition” under CPC §273.5, Dave is incorrect.

 

Arson

Arson (CPC §451) occurs whenever a person willfully and maliciously burns, or causes to be burned, any structure, forest land, or property. Arson is related to Vandalism because arson is a form of vandalism, permitting the prosecution to charge you with both crimes in the same trial.

If you're convicted of Arson resulting in great bodily injury, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to nine (9) years in a state prison;[26] OR,
  • A fine of up to $10,000 (ten-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both imprisonment and a fine.[27]

You can always find more information in the California Arson Attorneys section of the Kann California Defense Group's website. Feel free to contact the Kann Defense Group offices in Santa Clarita, Ventura, Encino, Pasadena or Los Angeles/Los Angeles County. Your call will always go directly to a lawyer. It's always guaranteed.

California Criminal Jury Instructions – Arson

To convict you under CPC §§451(c) or (d), the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You willfully and maliciously set fire to, or burned, or counseled, or helped to burn, or caused the burning of, a structure, forest land, or property.

Example: Defendant Dee decides to burn down an abandoned house. She applies a match to the door frame and singes it. But then she thinks better of act and blows out the flame. Neighbor, seeing this, reports her. She is arrested and charged under CPC §451(c). Dee defends herself by pointing out that the building was scarcely burned, and that she chose not to commit the crime. Should she be acquitted?

Conclusion: Dee willfully and maliciously set fire to a structure. Even slight singeing counts, under state law, for the purposes of CPC §451(c). Therefore, Dee has committed the offense. It is laudable that she chose not to burn the structure; this should be considered in her sentencing. However, she committed the acts necessary to be convicted.

Burglary

Penal Code §459 creates the crime of Burglary, which occurs any time someone enters a building with the intent to commit Theft or a felony inside the structure. You must form the intent commit Burglary at or before the time of entering the structure. The crime is related to Vandalism because entering a structure to commit Vandalism can give rise to a Burglary charge in the same trial.  

Burglaries inside homes, vessels, floating homes or trailers are first-degree burglaries. All other forms are in the second degree. This makes Burglary a “wobbler” offense.[28] If you're convicted of Burglary in the first degree, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to six (6) years in a state prison;[29] OR,
  • A fine of up to $10,000 (ten-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both a fine and imprisonment.[30]

More information can be found in the Burglary Lawyer section of the Kann California Defense Group's website. If you have questions, contact any of the Kann Defense Group offices in Santa Clarita, Ventura, Encino, Pasadena or Los Angeles/Los Angeles County.  An attorney will take your call. That's guaranteed.

California Jury Instructions – Burglary

To convict you under CPC §459, the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You entered a building, a locked vehicle, or a structure while intending to commit Theft or a felony involving property worth more than $950, or you entered a noncommercial establishment, or you entered a commercial establishment outside business hours with the same intent.

Example: Defendant Derrick is apprehended driving Victim Veronica's car. He stole it after noticing that she had left it unlocked with the keys in the ignition. He is charged with crimes including a violation of   CPC §459. He insists that he can't be a burglar on these facts. Should Derrick be acquitted of Burglary?

Conclusion: While Derrick is perhaps guilty of other offenses (such as Joyriding[31] or Grand Theft), he isn't guilty of Burglary. Veronica left her car unlocked; thus, Derrick didn't have to enter it in a way prohibited by law. (She compounded her error by leaving the keys in the ignition.) Derrick is innocent under §459.

 

Possession Of Burglary Tools

Possession Of Burglary Tools (CPC §466) involves possessing or knowingly making anything you could use to break into a building or a variety of other structures or vehicles. Of course, being requested to do so by some person having the right to open the building or structure is a defense. The statute also makes it illegal to alter or repair anything if you know or have reason to believe that that thing is to be used in a misdemeanor or a felony. The crime is related to Vandalism because possessing and using burglary tools can precede vandalism, which would permit charges for both in the same trial.

If you're convicted of Possession Of Burglary Tools, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to six (6) months in a county jail; OR,
  • A fine of up to $1000 (one-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both a fine and imprisonment.[32]

California Jury Instructions – Possession Of Burglary Tools

To convict you under CPC §466, the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You possessed a picklock, a crow, a keybit, a crowbar, a screwdriver, vise grip pliers, water-pump pliers, a slide-hammer, a slim jim, a tension bar, a lock pick gun, a tubular lock pick, a bump key, a floor-safe door puller, a master key, ceramic or porcelain spark plug chips or pieces, or another tool with intent to break into any building, railroad car, aircraft, or vessel, trailer coach, or vehicle as defined in the Vehicle Code or you knowingly made, altered, or attempted to make or alter a key or another thing named above so it would open the lock of a building, railroad car, aircraft, vessel, trailer coach, or vehicle without being asked to do so by someone having the right to open it, or you made, altered, or repaired anything, knowing or having reason to believe it was intended for use in a felony or misdemeanor.

Example: Defendant Daniel admits that he was in possession of a crowbar when police arrested him. He admits he was going to use it to rob Victim Vonn on the street. He even admits he was willing to assault her with it. But he refuses to admit to a charge under §466. Should Daniel be convicted on these facts?

Conclusion: Daniel willingly possessed an item listed in Section 466. He intended on using it to commit a felonious crime. These are elements of the offense. But Daniel did not intend on using the crowbar to enter a dwelling or a vehicle, nor do the facts suggest that he made or altered the crowbar for use in his crime. While he may be guilty of another crime, Daniel, it follows, is not guilty under CPC §466.

Damaging A Telephone Or Electrical Line

California law makes Damaging A Telephone Or Electrical Line (CPC §591) a crime when anyone damages or obstructs a line of telegraph, telephone, or cable television. The law also applies to lines used to conduct electricity, including backup deep cycle batteries or other power supplies. Finally, statute also prohibits severing any such wire or making an unauthorized connection with any line, other than telegraph, telephone, or cable television lines, used to conduct electricity. The crime is related to Vandalism because damaging telephone or electrical lines is a form of vandalism, permitting charges of both in the same trial.

If you're convicted of Damaging A Telephone Or Electrical Line, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to three (3) years in a county jail;[33] OR,
  • A fine of up to $10,000 (ten-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both a fine and imprisonment.[34]

California Jury Instructions – Damaging A Telephone Or Electrical Line

To convict you under CPC §591, the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You unlawfully and maliciously took down, removed, damaged, obstructed, disconnected, or cut part of a telegraph, telephone, cable television or electrical line, or mechanical equipment connected to the line, or you unlawfully severed a wire of a telegraph, telephone, cable television or electrical line, or you made an unauthorized connection with any part of a line used to conduct electricity or with mechanical equipment connected to that line.

Example: Intent on saving some money, Defendant Daniela, Victim Vi's neighbor, decides to steal electricity. She rewires the physical cable between their apartments, with no interruption in service, doing no damage. Vi reports her to police. Daniela defends herself by pointing out that she did not damage or disconnect the wires; thus, she says, she did not violate §591. Should she be convicted?

Conclusion: Daniela made a malicious, unauthorized connection with an electrical line. These facts would satisfy the statute. Yet Daniela believes she must damage the line in some permanent way, or at least interrupt the service, to violate the law. She is wrong. Therefore, Daniela should be convicted.

Possession of Vandalism Tools

The Possession of Vandalism Tools (CPC §594.2(a)) law makes it a crime for anyone to even possess “a masonry or glass drill bit, a carbide drill bit, a glass cutter, a grinding stone, an awl, a chisel, a carbide scribe, an aerosol paint container, a felt tip marker, or any other marking substance with the intent to commit vandalism”[35] or to create graffiti. The crime is related to Vandalism because possessing vandalism tools usually precedes vandalism, which would permit charges of both in the same trial.

If you're convicted of Possession of Vandalism Tools, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to six (6) months in a county jail; OR,
  • A fine of up to $1000 (one-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both a fine and imprisonment.[36]

California Jury Instructions – Possession of Vandalism Tools

To convict you under CPC §594.2(a), the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You possessed a masonry or glass drill bit, a carbide drill bit, a glass cutter, a grinding stone, an awl, a chisel, a carbide scribe, an aerosol paint container, or a felt tip marker or another marking substance, intending to commit vandalism or create graffiti.

Example: Defendant Diego is arrested at High School after vandals using felt tip markers deface a campus statute. He is charged because officials found markers in his backpack. But Diego is an artist who must use markers to draw for a class. While police have no other evidence against Diego, they charge him under §594.2(a). He swears he is innocent. Should Diego be convicted under these circumstances?

Conclusion: Diego had felt tip markers in his possession after vandals defaced school property. But this does not prove anything; Diego has a perfectly plausible reason for possessing the markers at that time and in that place. Given that reasonable doubt in US courts must be resolved in favor of the accused, and that the police have no other evidence of his guilt, Diego should not be convicted on these facts.

Trespass

 

Trespass (CPC §602(m)) occurs when a building or property is entered without the owner's permission.  While it is usually punished as a misdemeanor, Trespass can be joined with an offense like Assault to aggravate the sentence in a criminal trial, if the facts are right. Trespass is related to Vandalism because acts of vandalism often require illegally entering a structure.

If you're convicted of Trespass, the penalty may be:

  • A term up to one (1) year in a county jail; OR,
  • A fine up to $2,000 (two-thousand dollars); OR
  • Both a fine and imprisonment. [37]

You can always find more information in the California Trespassing Lawyer section of the Kann California Defense Group's website. If you have questions, contact any of the Kann Defense Group offices in Santa Clarita, Ventura, Encino, Pasadena or Los Angeles/Los Angeles County. Your call goes directly to a lawyer – and that's guaranteed.

California Jury Instructions – Trespass

To convict you under CPC §602(m), the prosecutor must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You willfully entered land or a building belonging to someone else without the consent of the owner, the owner's agent, or the person who had lawful possession of the property. You also occupied the land or building continuously until you were removed.

Example: Defendant Dominica believes that she has been shortchanged at a coffee shop. Manager disagrees. They argue. Manager threatens to call police is she doesn't leave. Dominca does so, only to be arrested at her home some time later. She is charged under §602(m). Is Dominica guilty on these facts?

Conclusion: Dominica presumably entered the coffee shop with Manager's permission. But when asked to leave, she left. Furthermore, Dominica did not remain in the shop until she was removed; she was arrested at home. Since none of the elements of the charge is present, and since US courts find for the accused if even one element of a charge cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, she is innocent.

Defacing Or Interfering With A Traffic Control Device

Defacing Or Interfering With A Traffic Control Device (California Vehicle Code [CVC] §21464(a)) occurs whenever anyone who doesn't have lawful authority defaces, damages, or attaches any material or substance to any official traffic control device, traffic guidepost, traffic signpost, motorist callbox, or historical marker that is officially authorized. The law also makes it illegal to knock down, remove, or shoot at the same things. Finally, the statute makes it illegal to deface, damage, remove, shoot at, or attach any material or substance to an inscription, shield, or insignia on any device, guide, or marker.

If you're convicted of Defacing Or Interfering With A Traffic Control Device resulting in human injury or death, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to three (3) years in a state prison;[38] AND,
  • A fine of up to $10,000 (ten-thousand dollars).[39]

Note: The minimum fine under these circumstances would be $5,000 (five-thousand dollars).[40]

California Jury Instructions – Defacing Or Interfering With A Traffic Control Device

To convict you under CVC §24164(a), the prosecutor must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You didn't have lawful authority when you defaced, damaged, or attached material or a substance to an official traffic control device, traffic guidepost, traffic signpost, motorist callbox, or historical marker authorized by law or you illegally knocked down, removed, or shot at the one of these things or you illegally defaced, damaged, removed, shot at, or attached material or a substance to an inscription, a shield, or an insignia on any required device, guide, or marker.

Example: Defendant Dicky goes online and buys a replica 1938B Red Ryder BB gun.[41] He decides to test it by shooting at an LA city traffic light. The BB ricochets off harmlessly off the glass. He's apprehended on his way home by Police Officer, who saw him shoot the light. He's charged under CVC §24164(a). Dicky insists he can't be guilty because he didn't do actual harm to anyone or anything. Is he correct or guilty?

Conclusion: Dicky did not have lawful authority when he shot at an LA city traffic light, a form of official traffic control device. This is all the law requires for a guilty verdict. While the fact that he didn't do any harm should be considered in his sentencing, Dicky is incorrect. He should be convicted.       

What Can I Do If I'm Charged With Vandalism?

The State of California regards Vandalism as a serious offense. If you're charged with Vandalism, it's essential that you retain a skilled, dedicated criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your rights, freedom, and livelihood are at stake.

Remember, a professional criminal defense attorney may be able to:

  • Negotiate a lesser charge in a plea bargain;
  • Reduce your sentence;
  • Or even get charges dismissed completely.

The attorneys at the Kann California Defense Group have an excellent understanding of the local courts and an extensive knowledge of California's criminal justice system. We can represent you in Ventura, Santa Clarita, Los Angeles, Encino, Pasadena and many other Southern California cities. 

If you or someone you know has been arrested for, or charged with, Vandalism, our attorneys will analyze the facts of your case and plan a strategy that will help you obtain the best possible outcome.

Contact the Kann California Defense Group today to schedule your free and confidential consultation.

References

[1] “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.” See California Criminal Jury Instructions 2900 (CALCRIM) (2017).

[2] “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.” See above.

[3] Fact pattern based on “A Couple Accidentally Defaced a $500,000 Painting in a Seoul Mall After Mistaking It for a Participatory Artwork” by Sarah Cascone. Artnet News, April 6, 2021.

[4] See CPC §19.

[5] See California Penal Code [CPC] §1170 (h) (1). [See Version (Amended (as amended by Stats. 2018, Ch. 1001, Sec. 1) by Stats. 2020, Ch. 29, Sec. 14.)]

[6] See CPC §594 (b) (1).

[7] See “Wobbler Law and Legal Definition” at USLegal.com.

[8] See Endnote 4.

[9] See Endnote 5.

[10] See Endnote 6.

[11] See CPC §594.7

[12] Fact pattern based on “Breaking News: Two Boisterous Kids Smashed a $64,000 Glass Sculpture of a Disney Castle at the Shanghai Museum of Glass” by Sarah   Cascone. Artnet News, July 24, 2020.

[13] See Version “(Amended (as amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 887, Sec. 1) by Stats. 2017, Ch. 561, Sec. 178.)

[14] See CPC §1192.7 (c) (28).

[15] See CPC §667 (e) (2) (A) (ii).  

[16] See “Aggravate Law and Legal Definition” at USLegal.com.

[17] See CPC §186.22 (b) (1) (B).

[18] See “Aid and Abet Law and Legal Definition” at USLegal.com.

[19] See CPC §243 (e) (1).

[20] See above.

[21] Simple Battery (CPC §243 (a)) is an option.

[22] See CPC §273.5 (a).

[23] See Endnote 7.

[24] See Endnote 17.

[25] See CPC §273.5 (d).

[26] See CPC §451 (a).

[27] See CPC §672

[28] See Endnote 7.

[29] See CPC §461 (a).

[30] See Endnote 22.

[31] See California Vehicle Code [CVC] §10851 (a).

[32] See Endnote 4.

[33] See Endnote 5.

[34] See Endnote 22.

[35]  See CPC §594.2 (a).

[36] See Endnote 27.

[37] See CPC §602 (m).

[38] See Endnote 5.

[39] See CVC §24164 (d).

[40] See above.

[41] See “Daisy Outdoor Products: Red Ryder BB Gun” at Wikipedia.org.

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