Graffiti Is Often Considered a Felony Crime in Los Angeles
It might seem like no big deal—how much of a penalty could someone face for a little paint? However, graffiti can be considered vandalism, and, depending on the extent of property damage, it may be charged as a felony offense.
Vandalism, which encompasses graffiti, falls under California Penal Code Section 594. According to this law, if a person “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.”
Felony vs. Misdemeanor
In a recent case, four teenage boys were charged with felony vandalism after being accused of tagging. The estimated property damage hovered in the $200,000 range, which is why the alleged crime was elevated to felony status. These cases are tried as felonies when the property damage is over $400.
A misdemeanor vandalism offense generally doesn’t have as severe penalties as a felony. When a vandalism offense is classified as a felony, it could lead to jail time and a substantial fine, not to mention other repercussions that should be discussed with an experienced defense lawyer. Depending on the details of the case, the prosecution might fight to get additional time added to the jail sentence of the defendant.
How a Lawyer Can Help with a Graffiti Charge
When you are accused of a vandalism crime, you need someone with experience on your side. A knowledgeable Torrance criminal lawyer may be able to get your charges dismissed or reduced and/or lessen the severity of your penalties. Because prosecutors work hard on vandalism convictions, you need to ensure you have a strong defense, which is where your attorney will be able to help.