San Diego Criminal Defense

101 W. Broadway, Suite 1770 | San Diego, CA 92101

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San Diego Criminal Lawyer

San Diego Juvenile

Criminal Defense Lawyer


Vandalism is a crime where the seriousness of the allegation depends almost exclusively on the dollar value of the property which was damaged. In other words, if expensive property was damaged, vandalism may be charged as a felony rather than a misdemeanor. For parents of teenagers, vandalism charges are especially troubling because a "true-finding" could make the parents liable for the cost of repairing or replacing any damaged property. An experienced criminal defense attorney with a positive track-record of working with teenagers is your best insurance to protect your child's future, and your family's savings. 

Why Teenagers Vandalize Property - And How to Stop This Behavior. 

There are several common reasons why teenagers vandalize property, but there is one strong, unifying interest amongst teenagers accused of vandalism - they are all very interested in criminal law as a general subject matter. Vandalism is a symptom of their inability to find an appropriate outlet for their angst, boredom, or frustration at their perceived inability to change what they view as an unfair world. 


I have had extraordinary success channeling this teenage angst into productive skills such as debate and public speaking through the YMCA's Youth & Government program - a mock trial and model legislature program for high school students interested in criminal law and government - and who want to feel that their voice is heard and recognized. Each year my office scholarships multiple students through this life changing program. For more information, on this life changing program, please visit

Vandalism Explained by a San Diego Criminal Lawyer

California Penal Code 594 PC


Vandalism is defined as the malicious defacing, damage, or destruction of property. Vandalism is typically a misdemeanor, but may be charged as a felony depending on the dollar value of the property that was damaged. This means that if expensive property was vandalized, the crime could potentially be charged as a felony - and the penalty could be up to three years in jail and/or a 10,000 fine.


Why You Should Hire a Lawyer

Often times, the issue with a troubled teenager is that they do not understand the legal consequences of their actions or have strongly incorrect views on the law. You need an attorney that is willing to speak with your child, and work with them. Only three professions have an ethical duty to never reveal confidential information: a priest, a shrink, and an attorney, and that is not by accident. 


Sometimes the answers to our problems, and what we all need most, is to speak to someone with complete confidentiality. Our consultations are 100% confidential and free for an hour. 


Vandalism as a Felony - Example

For example, throwing paint on an expensive fur coat may result in felony vandalism charges (and battery as well). Similarly, if your child is an incredible artist and paints an amazing mural on city property, they could potentially be charged with vandalism as a felony. 


The potentially serious nature of the charge is why you need to hire an experienced juvenile attorney who has a track record of successfully working with troubled teenagers, and helping them correct dangerous life decisions. 


Punishment for Parents of Children who are Convicted of Vandalism

Parents have strong financial incentives if their children vandalize expensive property. 


San Diego Municipal Code (SDMC) § 54.0411 (page 5) makes parents civilly liable for up to $25,000 of property damage caused by their minor children. SDMC Sec. 54.0413(e) makes parents reimburse the City for any reward that is paid for information leading to the arrest and conviction of their minor child for graffiti crimes.


Furthermore, California Penal Code Sec. 594(d) makes a parent liable for any fine that his or her minor child is unable to pay. The amount of the fines depends on the amount of the damage; the maximum fine is $50,000.