As a Fresno vandalism defense attorney with years of experience defending clients against property crime charges, Mike McKneely understands how the prosecution will try to convict you of these crimes. If you have been arrested for vandalism, contact our office now to discuss your case with an experienced Fresno property crimes attorney. Getting skilled legal help on your side as early as possible will help you fight the criminal charges that have been filed against you. Contact Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer today at (559) 443-7442.
A large variety of laws in California are meant specifically to protect property and the rights of property owners. If you are arrested for vandalism, you face a legal process that is longer and much more serious than you may imagine. Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer has helped defend many clients who have been charged with property crimes, and we understand that each case is different and has unique circumstances.
Vandalism as Defined by California Law
The California law of vandalism outlaws the malicious and purposeful destroying, damaging, or defacing of the property of others. Sometimes people refer to this as California’s graffiti law since it is applied to those who deface public or private property with paint or engravings.
Our office has seen many different cases where clients are accused of vandalism, and in some of these situations, the defendant is surprised that criminal charges are being pressed in the first place. A charge of vandalism can come if you break something in your home that is owned by you and your spouse, or if you damage public walkways in a seemingly victimless act. A skilled Fresno vandalism defense attorney knows the elements that must be proven to convict you in your case, and how to successfully defend against them.
Punishments for a Vandalism Conviction in California
Your vandalism charges can be very serious depending on the specifics of your case. The value of the property damage is possibly the biggest factor in deciding the penalty that a vandalism conviction brings. However, other details of your case and consideration of your previous criminal history will determine if you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor.
In situations where the value of the damaged property you allegedly vandalizes is less than $400, then you will face misdemeanor charges. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor vandalism offense, you face up to a year in jail and fines reaching $1,000. However, vandalism is considered a “wobbler” crime in California if the damage is worth more than $400. In these situations, you can either be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. If you are convicted of felony vandalism, you face up to three years in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000, but your fine can be reassessed and increased if the damage that you caused is determined to be very significant.
Defenses Against Your Vandalism Charge
As a Fresno vandalism attorney with years of experience, Michael McKneely understands how police and prosecutors aggressively pursue property crimes. He also understands how an accusation of vandalism can be stressful and confusing. However, it’s important to remember that in order to convict you, the prosecutor must prove each element of the crime. It’s not enough to show that you damaged someone else’s property, but it must also be shown that you did so with malicious intent.
Your Fresno criminal defense attorney may build your defense around one or several of the following arguments:
- The damage was done by accident. Accidents happen, and they are not acts of vandalism. If you damaged someone else’s property by accident, you may be facing a civil lawsuit for damages, but criminal charges will likely not stand.
- You are the victim of mistaken identity. This happens frequently, especially when someone did not get a good look at the vandal and then erroneously accused you.
- You are being falsely accused. Sometimes people make a false accusation of malicious property damage against those with whom they have a disagreement or bad history. In other cases, people will lie that their property was vandalized as part of a scam such as insurance fraud.
Talk to a Fresno Vandalism Defense Attorney Today
While you may feel that a vandalism accusation is a simple misunderstanding or something that can easily be cleared up, your criminal prosecution for a property crime can result in jail time and large fines. Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer is a reputable criminal defense law firm in Fresno. Our staff understands how these crimes are aggressively pursued, and attorney Mike knows what must be done in order to protect your rights and clear your name. Do not wait to seek legal help if charges for vandalism are filed against you.
To speak with a skilled and understanding Fresno vandalism defense attorney, contact Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer to discuss your case in a free and initial consultation. Contact our office today at (559) 443-7442.