Vandalism – Tagging, Defacing Property, Graffiti

January 3, 2010  •  Jerod Gunsberg, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

Vandalism, Defacing Property, Graffiti, or Tagging

If you or your child are charged with criminal vandalism (commonly known as “tagging”, defacing property, or graffiti), there are a numerous possible consequences. In Los Angeles County, juvenile courts, police and prosecutors are cracking down on these offenses.

To be found guilty of vandalism, the prosecution must prove that a person maliciously defaced, damaged, or destroyed somebody else’s property without their permission.

If the amount of the defacement, damage or destruction is $400 or more the offense can be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor and carries a maximum fine of $10,000.

If the amount of damage is more than $10,000 the maximum fine is $50,000.

If the damage is less than $400, the offense can only be prosecuted as a misdemeanor and the maximum fine is $1,000.  If the damage is less than $400 but you or your child have been previously convicted of vandalism then the offense is still a misdemeanor but the maximum fine is raised to $5,000.

Vandalism, especially tagging, often carries special terms and conditions of juvenile probation. A juvenile court may order a minor to undergo counseling in addition to one of the following:

  • Perform up to 300 hours of community service
  • Keep a specific location “graffiti free” for up to one year. See Cal. Penal Code 594.6

Possession of Graffiti Tools

Under California Penal code Sec. 594.6, if an individual possesses a water-soluble felt tip marker of a certain width (“tips”), spray paint, drill bits, glass cutters, grinding stones, awls, chisels, carbide scribes or any other marking substance” with the “intent to commit vandalism or graffiti” that person can be prosecuted for a misdemeanor.

Unfortunately children and teens who are artists or who work jobs or have hobbies involving these tools are often wrongly accused of  possessing these tools for graffiti or tagging. However, these are issues that can be resolved in court. There is no point in making any statements to the police proclaiming your innocence (When facing criminal charges, it is NEVER advisable to talk to the police about your case). If you or your child receive a citation or are arrested for possessing graffiti tools, remain silent and contact a qualified juvenile criminal defense attorney who will help resolve the situation.

Get a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney on Your Side

It is important to speak with a qualified juvenile criminal defense attorney regarding you or your child’s vandalism or tagging case. If you have a juvenile case in Los Angeles County, contact juvenile criminal defense attorney Jerod Gunsberg at The Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg for a free consultation.

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