Mr. Sterling has experienced much success in this area of the law. Mr. Sterling has obtained dismissals of vandalism charges and in many circumstances has obtained lesser and reduced charges for his clients.
In California, any person who maliciously commits any of the following acts with respect to any real or personal property (not their own), can be charged with vandalism:
- Defaces with graffiti or other inscribed material,
- Damages, or
- Destroys any real or personal property of another.
Vandalism is a “wobbler.” It is a property crime that the state may charge as a misdemeanor or even a felony. The state will not hesitate to prosecute you for the criminal damage caused by your actions.
That means a wide variety of destructive or unsightly behavior could be considered vandalism, including seemingly minor crimes like shooting a BB gun at a stop sign or scratching a name into a desk.
In California, it is also illegal to enter any land with the intent to injure property, property rights, or with intention to interfere, obstruct, or injure any lawful business. Thus, one can be charged with additional criminal charges such as trespass or burglary if any of these additional facts are present.
The crime of vandalism also involves First Amendment issues and in some situations can serve as a complete defense to certain conduct. This area of the law lends itself to creative problem solving. It is not uncommon for Mr. Sterling to facilitate “diversionary pleas” for his clients. In these instances, successful completion of community service or restitution can result in the criminal charges being dropped.
However each case unique, so we invite you to consider how we might be able to help.