California Penal Code 594 PC

PC 594 – Vandalism

Vandalism – Table of Contents

Vandalism Penal Code 594 PC in California

Vandalism, CA Penal Code 594 PC, doesn’t sound like a serious crime but you might be surprised to know that it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor.

The Crime of Vandalism — California Penal Code 594 PC states:

“(a) 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.

Whenever a person violates this subdivision with respect to real property, vehicles, signs, fixtures, furnishings, or property belonging to any public entity, as defined by Section 811.2 of the Government Code, or the federal government, it shall be a permissive inference that the person neither owned the property nor had the permission of the owner to deface, damage, or destroy the property.”

So, what does this mean? In order to be convicted of vandalism, CA Penal Code 594 PC, the prosecutor must prove:

  1. That you maliciously defaced with graffiti or other inscribed material, damaged, or destroyed property
  2. The property did not belong to you
  3. If the amount was less than $400 than you will be charged with a misdemeanor, if the amount was more than $400 than you will be charged with a felony

If the prosecution can prove these three elements of the crime then you will be convicted of vandalism, CA Penal Code 594 PC.

Sentencing – CA PC 594

“(b) (1) If the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction is four hundred dollars ($400) or more, vandalism is punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or if the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction is ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or more, by a fine of not more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.

(2) (A) If the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction is less than four hundred dollars ($400), vandalism is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.

(B) If the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction is less than four hundred dollars ($400), and the defendant has been previously convicted of vandalism or affixing graffiti or other inscribed material under Section 594, 594.3, 594.4, 640.5, 640.6, or 640.7, vandalism is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.”

If you are convicted of vandalism, CA Penal Code 594 PC as a misdemeanor with under $400 worth of damages, then you will face:

  • Up to one year in county jail
  • Up to $1,000 fine for your first vandalism conviction
  • Up to $5,000 fine for any subsequent conviction
  • Informal probation
  • Up to a 2 year suspension on your drivers license
  • Mandatory counseling
  • Community service

If the damages are in excess of $400 and you are charged with a misdemeanor, then you will face:

  • Up to one year in county jail
  • Up to $10,000 fine for your first felony conviction
  • Up to $50,000 fine if the damage was over $10,000
  • Informal probation
  • Up to a 2 year suspension on your drivers license
  • Mandatory counseling
  • Community service

If the damages are in excess of $400 and you are charged with a felony, then you will face:

  • Either up to one year in county jail and probation, or
  • Up to three years in county jail, without probation

 

If granted probation you will face:

  • Up to a 2 year suspension on your drivers license
  • Mandatory counseling
  • Community service

According to Penal Code 594 PC, you may also be required to pay back monetary damages:

“(c) Upon conviction of any person under this section for acts of vandalism consisting of defacing property with graffiti or other inscribed materials, the court shall, when appropriate and feasible, in addition to any punishment imposed under subdivision (b), order the defendant to clean up, repair, or replace the damaged property himself or herself, or order the defendant, and his or her parents or guardians if the defendant is a minor, to keep the damaged property or another specified property in the community free of graffiti for up to one year. Participation of a parent or guardian is not required under this subdivision if the court deems this participation to be detrimental to the defendant or if the parent or guardian is a single parent who must care for young children. If the court finds that graffiti cleanup is inappropriate, the court shall consider other types of community service, where feasible.”

Prosecuting – Penal Code 594

As previously mentioned, in order to be convicted of vandalism, CA Penal Code 594 PC the prosecution must prove the following elements of the crime:

  1. That you maliciously defaced with graffiti or other inscribed material, damaged, or destroyed property
  2. The property did not belong to you
  3. If the amount was less than $400 than you will be charged with a misdemeanor, if the amount was more than $400 than you will be charged with a felony

If the prosecutor cannot prove these elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt then you will not be convicted of vandalism, CA Penal Code 594 PC.

The first element of California Penal Code 594 PC states that you maliciously defaced with graffiti other inscribed material, damaged or destroyed property. This is defined in the penal code as 

“any unauthorized inscription, word, figure, mark, or design that is written, marked, etched, scratch, drawn or painted on real or personal property.” 

Broadly, this means if you write or draw on property using any tool, you can be convicted of vandalism, CA Penal Code 594 PC. 

What is Real Property?

Under California Penal Code 594 PC, “real” property simply means any property or anything attached to that property.

What Does Maliciously Mean?

Maliciously means deliberately or on purpose. In other words, the act cannot be an accident. If you accidentally damage, deface or destroy someone’s property, you cannot be charged with criminal vandalism, CA Penal Code 594 PC.

The Second Element of PC 594 — Own Property

The second element of the crime simply means that you cannot be found guilty of vandalism if you deface, destroy or damage your own property. However, you have to own the property. Meaning the property cannot be rented, leased, etc. but must be owned by you.

Defending Vandalism, CA Penal Code 594 PC Charge

PC 594 - Vandalism

Luckily there are legal defenses that your skilled criminal defense attorney can use in order to prove your innocence. The first approach your criminal defense attorney will take is to investigate whether the vandalism, CA Penal Code 594 PC was an accident. If you accidentally damaged, defaced, or destroyed someone else’s property, you will not be convicted of vandalism, CA Penal Code 594 PC. 

Acting maliciously is one of the elements of the crime, so if you were simply performing an action that went wrong, you cannot be charged with a crime. However, you can still be sued by the property owner in civil court to pay for the necessary repairs.

Many vandalism, CA Penal Code 594 PC charges are filed against victims of mistaken identity. Some of the time, it’s possible to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and unfortunately be associated with a person or group of persons performing vandalism. If you are facing vandalism, CA Penal Code 594 PC charges, and it’s the case of mistaken identity, then it’s imperative to seek the aid of an attorney. Your skilled criminal defense attorney will read the police report and discuss with witnesses regarding your whereabouts at the time of the incident. If your attorney can prove that you were wrongfully identified, then the charges will be dropped.

Some vandalism, CA Penal Code 594 PC charges are filed in accordance with domestic abuse charges because a jealous or revengeful partner will destroy property and then place the blame on another person. Your skilled criminal defense attorney will look investigate the victim’s character and look at their criminal record to see if they have filed charges similar to this type before. Your attorney will then challenge both the domestic abuse (PC 273.5) and vandalism charges and say that the victim actually performed the actions herself/himself.

Expunging a Vandalism Conviction – CA Penal Code 594

Having a CA PC 594 — Vandalism conviction on your record can be a “red flag” for potential employers. It shows them that you have little respect for other people’s property and also shows that you are not necessarily trustworthy. Luckily vandalism falls under the category of crimes that can be expunged from your criminal record.

If you were sentenced with probation for a vandalism, CA Penal Code 594 PC conviction, then it’s possible to have the incident dismissed from your record. In order to have the crime successfully cleared from your record, you will need to have successfully completed your probation term without any infractions.

For a full understanding of the process read our Expungement Article.

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If you or a loved one is being charged with violating PC 594, Vandalism laws in Los Angeles California, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys for a free consultation today.

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