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Graffiti and vandalism are not child’s play

Some may think graffiti and other types of vandalism are just harmless pranks young people engage in when they are bored or feeling rebellious. The fact is that these types of vandalism can cost property owners and government agencies a great deal of money. Painting over graffiti, or repairing and replacing damaged items are unfair expenses that someone else will have to bear.

Because of this, California authorities consider vandalism a crime. The consequences for vandalism can be quite steep. If your child is facing accusations of participating in acts of vandalism, you may undoubtedly have concerns about your child’s future as well as for your own well-being. In some cases, parents may be financially liable for the expense of repairing damage resulting from a minor’s acts of vandalism.

Understanding the penalties and enhancements

Just as the possession of paraphernalia may lead to drug charges, the possession of certain graffiti tools may result in charges of vandalism for your child. If police see your child purchasing or carrying a can of spray paint or etching cream, which is an acid that permanently mars glass, your child may face misdemeanor charges. As for the actual graffiti or vandalism, the penalties depend on the severity of the damage for which your child is convicted, for example:

  • Less than $400 damage – up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both
  • Less than $400 damage with a previous conviction for vandalism – up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or both
  • Between $400 and $10,000 damage – up to a year in jail or a $10,000 fine
  • More than $10,000 damage – up to a year in prison or jail, up to $50,000 fine, or both

These may be just the beginning. In some situations, the court may enhance the penalties, especially if the vandalism involves any of the following:

  • Damage to a religious building such as a church or mosque
  • Damage to a cemetery
  • Vandalism prosecuted as a hate crime
  • The use of toxic or caustic substances to commit the vandalism

As you can see, the financial consequences alone can be devastating, and you may be responsible for the expense as well as the repair of any damage. Additionally, each subsequent conviction for vandalism places your child at risk of enhanced penalties. When the future of your family is at stake, you may want to reach out for solid legal representation and guidance to avoid these penalties and work toward a more positive outcome.