Vandalism & Property Crimes
Vandalism & Property Crimes
Vandalism and property crimes are some of the most common offenses instigated by minors. Under Penal Code 594, vandalism is the intentional destruction of property, and it can happen in several ways. This includes graffiti, smashing windows, keying cars, slashing tires, or damaging school or church property. The most common form of vandalism is graffiti, which is also referred to as tagging or defacing property.
Graffiti charges that a juvenile may face include:
- Penal Code 594 – Defacement of property
- Penal Code 594.1 (b) – Possession of aerosol containers by a minor. This statute makes it illegal for minors to purchase an aerosol container of paint with the intent to deface property. Penalties include 100 hours of community service, while repeat offenders may face possible jail time
- Penal Code 640.7 and 640.8 – Vandalism on a highway or a freeway. Defacing property that is on a highway or freeway is a serious vandalism charge. Offenders may face heavy fines of up to $1,000 and possible confinement for repeat offenders
Other vandalism related charges include:
- Penal Code 594.3 – Vandalising a place of work
- Penal Code 594.4 – Vandalising with caustic chemicals
- Penal Code 594.6 – Possession of graffiti tools
- Penal Code 186.22 – Criminal street gang enhancement
- Penal Code 459 – Burglary
- Penal Code 602 – Trespassing
- Penal Code 484 and 487 – Petty theft and Grand theft
Penalties for vandalism
The penalties for vandalism and property damage are significantly influenced by the value of the property and the offender’s criminal history. For a first-time offense that causes minima damage (less than $400), charges could lead to a misdemeanor conviction. A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by up to $1,000 in criminal fines, possible community service, and three years of informal probation.
If the property was valued to be over $400, the prosecution may pursue felony charges which could lead to more severe penalties, including formal probation, jail time, and a one-year license suspension.
For these reasons, it is crucial to contact Saros Law APC without delay to discuss how we can mitigate the effects of vandalism criminal charges on your minor’s future.
Shoplifting and Theft
In California, juvenile theft cases are handled differently than adult theft cases. These cases are usually treated as a delinquency matter where the offender and his/her guardian will be given a citation to appear in court. In most misdemeanor shoplifting or theft offenses, the juvenile might be directly sent to informal probation. These typically do not require the minor to appear before a juvenile court judge.
First-time offenders may also be eligible for a diversion program, where their case would be dismissed upon successful completion of the program. However, where the juvenile has prior juvenile offenses on his/her record, the court may sentence the minor to confinement as a ward of the state.