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Potential Penalties for a Juvenile Vandalism Case in California

In California, vandalism is described as committing the intentional act of destroying another’s property or personal belongings. Based on California law, vandalism can be deemed a misdemeanor or it can be charged as a felony, depending on the extent of damage and its monetary value.

As it pertains to California Penal Code §594, the types of vandalism a minor can be charged with include: Damage to a school or church building, Graffiti on school buildings, Slashing tires, Keying an automobile, Breaking windows in buildings, or Smashing windows on vehicles.

Each type of offense can have widespread consequences as vandalism is recognized by the law as an act of deliberate action of destroying another’s property by the underage defendant.

The Penalties for Vandalism

If this is the minor’s first-time offense and there was minimal damage, the charge leveled will be considered a misdemeanor. According to California law, minimal property damage pertains to damage that totals less than $400.

Any penalties accrued by the juvenile defendant can involve court fines, reparations, community service, and/or up to 3 years of probation. Fortunately, imprisonment is not a penalty for a misdemeanor conviction. When the charges are for a felony, however, the consequences are much more severe.

When facing a felony for vandalism, the underage defendant can receive formal probation, imprisonment, and even a one-year driver’s license suspension when convicted.

Facing Additional Charges and Potential Defenses

Facing vandalism charges can become more serious when there are other allegations added to the case. For instance, when the minor is a known gang member, he or she can face gang enhancements added to the charges. In a different scenario, a juvenile who has defaced the property of a person by inscribing racially charged profanity can also face hate crime charges in addition to the vandalism.

When it comes to vandalism charges, there are several possible defenses that can be presented. In many cases, vandalism charges are filed against minors as a result of mistaken identity. For instance, a minor who was at the scene when the vandalism took place but did not commit the act of vandalism may be wrongfully accused. In a different example, misidentification can take place when a grainy surveillance video is used to identify the suspect.

To Obtain Alternative Sentencing Options, Consider Speaking to a Well-Versed Criminal Defense Attorney

Facing vandalism charges as a first-time offense can carry a significant penalty when the crime is being charged as a felony. If your child is being accused of vandalism, it may be possible to obtain alternative sentencing options that can prevent him or her from being detained. Such alternative options can include community service and counseling. When facing vandalism charges, it is important to seek the support of a skilled criminal defense attorney who has experience in juvenile cases. With the support of an experienced attorney, it may be possible to have the case dismissed.

The criminal defense attorneys at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP are proficient in the field of juvenile defense cases. Whether this is a first-time offense or a repeat offense, it may be possible to successfully defend against the charges. Consider speaking to an attorney at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP today.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.