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San Diego Vandalism Defense Attorneys

Top-Tier Defense Against Vandalism Charges in San Diego

The City of San Diego is tough on vandalism. They advise residents who see graffiti in progress to call 911 immediately and report it to the police. The City warns against confronting vandals, as they may be carrying weapons, and offers a reward of up to $500 for information leading to arrest and conviction.

If you are facing vandalism charges, a San Diego criminal defense lawyer at jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys can provide the exceptional legal representation and guidance you need. Criminal defense attorney James N. Dicks has over 30 years of legal experience and handled hundreds of cases throughout his career. From 2019 to 2021, he was selected for the annual Super Lawyers listing, with only 5% of attorneys in each state chosen to be featured.

Call our San Diego vandalism defense lawyer at (760) 630-2000 to schedule your free consultation today.

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What Is Considered Vandalism in California?

Under the California Penal Code, a person who willfully defaces or damages someone else’s property is guilty of vandalism. Common examples of this crime include graffiti, keying cars, and writing on wet cement.

Vandalism is punished according to the value of the property involved. It is wobbler under state law, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony at the prosecution’s discretion. If the value of the property damaged was $400 or more, you could be charged with a felony. Factors the prosecution considers in making the charging decision include the age of the accused, the facts of the case, and any prior criminal convictions.

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What Must the Prosecution Prove to Convict You of Vandalism?

To get a vandalism conviction, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:

  • Acted maliciously;
  • Defaced, damaged, or destroyed real or personal property; and
  • You were not the owner of the property.

In the case of felony vandalism, the prosecution must also prove that the value of the defaced, damaged, or destroyed property exceeded $400. Every element of the offense must be proven to convict you of the crime.

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What Are the Penalties for Vandalism in San Diego?

When charged as a misdemeanor, vandalism is punishable by up to one year in county jail and fines of up to $1,000. The fines may be increased to $5,000 for repeat misdemeanor offenses. Additional penalties may include community service, a suspended license, counseling, and repair of property. Penalties are steeper for felony vandalism. It carries a state prison term of up to three years, a fine of up to $50,000, or both.

Penalties for vandalism may be enhanced under certain circumstances. Vandalism to a church is considered a hate crime, charged as a felony, and punishable by up to three years in state prison. If the offense was gang-related, it carries up to four years in state prison and counts as a strike under California’s Three Strikes Law.

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What Are the Defenses Against Vandalism Charges?

If you have been accused of vandalism, our San Diego criminal defense lawyer can raise every defense that applies in your case. Common defenses against vandalism include the following:

  • False accusation: Another person falsely accused you of the crime out of anger or retaliation.
  • Mistaken identity: You were mistaken for the person who committed the crime.
  • No malicious act: If you accidentally defaced or destroyed property, it is not vandalism. You are only guilty of this crime if you acted maliciously.
  • Ownership: You own the property that was defaced, damaged, or destroyed.
  • Consent: The owner of the property consented to the actions.
  • Insufficient evidence: The prosecution cannot provide sufficient evidence to prove every element of the crime.

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Hire a San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer That Knows How to Win

At jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, we recognize that every case is unique and assess each one with a tailored approach. Head attorney James N. Dicks is a former Los Angeles Police Department investigator and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist by the California Board of Legal Specialization. He is committed to using his knowledge and experience to the benefit of every client and securing a favorable outcome.

Our San Diego legal team is here to take the lead on your case. We’ll navigate the legal process and protect your rights every step of the way.

Contact our office today at (760) 630-2000 for a free consultation.

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