California Penal Code 594 PC defines vandalism as intentionally destroying someone else’s property or damaging it so that it requires cleaning or repairs. This definition includes everything from throwing eggs at someone’s house to throwing someone else’s computer out of an upstairs window. If you have been charged with vandalism, contact the Ventura criminal defense lawyers at David Lehr Law.
Whether vandalism is a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the dollar amount of the damage that you caused. If you caused $400.00 or less in damage, then your vandalism charge will be a misdemeanor. If the damage is more than $400.00, then vandalism is a wobbler offense, which is a crime that the prosecution has the choice of charging as a misdemeanor or a felony. Your lawyer may be able to get it charged as a misdemeanor, even if the damaged item is valuable.
When is property damage not just about property? Vandalism charges are sometimes part of domestic violence cases. One domestic violence incident might lead to you getting charged with several crimes, including vandalism. Here are some examples:
- If a couple gets in a fight, and they intentionally destroy each other’s stuff, both can get vandalism charges.
- If you destroy your partner’s possessions in anger, the court may see you as someone who is capable of domestic violence.
- If you destroy your partner’s cell phone, iPad, or work pager, you can get charged with 591.5 PC injuring a wireless device.
- If you destroy a device that contains threatening messages you sent to your partner, you could get tampering with evidence charges.
- If you damage your partner’s car to prevent her from leaving, that is a much worse criminal charge than vandalism.
When most people think of vandalism, they think about teenagers spray painting curse words over the word “stop” on stop signs, but vandalism encompasses a much wider range of actions. It is vandalism if you throw a coffee cup across the room to show your spouse how angry you are. It is vandalism if you slash the tires of your ex’s car. If you think those last two actions sound like domestic violence, the court agrees with you. If you are accused of breaking stuff during a fight with your partner, you need a criminal defense lawyer.
Your Ventura, California domestic violence defense lawyer might be able to get the charges against you dropped or seek a plea deal and get the charges reduced. If you enter a plea of not guilty and go to trial for vandalism charges, these are some defenses you might use to make the jury doubt that you are guilty:
- You damaged the property in question, but it was by accident and without malicious intent. Therefore, your actions do not count as vandalism and you should be acquitted.
- You are not the one who damaged the property. Your partner either does not really know who damaged the property or is lying and making false accusations against you.
- Even if you did destroy the property, the prosecution obtained the evidence in a way that violated your constitutional right to due process, so it is not a fair trial.
A vandalism conviction will not get you sentenced to decades in prison, but it is best to avoid a conviction if you can. The best way to do that is by hiring a Ventura, California criminal defense lawyer.
If you have been charged with
vandalism, call 805-477-0070.
We can provide you with a free case review.
If you are facing criminal charges, researching the law is a good idea, but remember that this web page, like all lawyers’ websites, is for informational purposes only. You have the right to have a lawyer represent you in a criminal case, and you should exercise that right. The lawyers at the Law Offices of David Lehr in Ventura, California will use their expertise to provide you with the best legal advice, which might include pleading not guilty and offering defenses at trial. It is not possible for any lawyer to guarantee that you will be acquitted or get the plea deal that you want.
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