California Penal Code § 594 makes it unlawful for any person to maliciously deface, damage or destroy any real or personal property. If a person has been found to damage property that is not theirs, they may be arrested under suspicion of malicious mischief, or also known as vandalism.
Malicious mischief is a serious charge, and although in many situations will not carry a jail sentence, it will become a permanent part of your criminal record. A charge or arrest on your record will appear when employers do a background check, schools or other institutions. Fortunately, an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney knows precisely how to get the charged reduced or dismissed altogether.
One of the ways an attorney prepares a strong defense for their client is through the use of civil compromise. Civil compromise is an agreement that restitution will be made to an injured party. This can only be used when the alleged damage or injury is done to a private person, not a government entity.
For example, let’s consider an example. David writes on a restaurant’s wall with spray paint without the knowledge or consent of the owner. David is charged with defacing property of another under Penal Code §594. David hires an attorney who contacts the owner of the restaurant. The attorney asks David to pay all costs associated with restoring the restaurant wall back to how it was before it was spray painted. David obliges. By doing so, the attorney will enter into a civil compromise with the restaurant owner in hopes that it may be presented in criminal court as an effort to demonstrate that amends have been made and no further charges would be necessary.
If the person charged has taken measures to make amends, it is more likely to help persuade the prosecutor to dismiss or reduce the charges. Oftentimes injured parties are not cooperative and need some persuasion and negotiation from an expert who has handled similar cases in the past. Once a party has agreed to cooperate, the attorney must prepare the right paperwork and contact the Prosecutor to discuss restitution.
The Prosecutor may still choose to press charges even if restitution for vandalism has been made and a civil compromise has been offered to the Court. It is entirely up to the Prosecutor’s discretion whether they believe that the government should go forward with the charges.
If you have been charged with vandalism or a similar charge, it is important that you seek legal advice. If a civil compromise can be prepared and presented to the court along with a powerful argument, your case has a strong change of being dismissed or reduced. A criminal charge, misdemeanor or felony, will have a negative impact on your future. Employers, universities and other institutions will look at your criminal and arrest record. Having these charges dismissed is in your best interest and worth the expertise of a Los Angeles lawyer.