California Vandalism Law
Penal Code 594 PC

Penal Code 594 PC, California's vandalism and graffiti law, prohibits maliciously doing any of the following things to someone else's property:

  • Defacing it with graffiti or other written material,
  • Damaging it, or
  • Destroying it.1

When most people hear the term "vandalism," they may think of neighborhood kids who end up in the California juvenile court system for smashing peoples' mailboxes.

But in fact the California crime of vandalism includes a number of activities that you might not immediately think of. Some examples are:

  • During a fight with your husband, breaking some fine china that you own together;
  • "Keying" the car of someone you know as an act of revenge for something awful they've done to you; and
  • Writing your name in wet cement on a city sidewalk.

And, in fact, vandalism charges are serious business in California. A vandalism conviction can result in penalties that include jail time and very large fines.2

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Acts of vandalism -- even minor ones -- can lead to criminal charges in California.

Penalties

The penalties for California vandalism charges generally depend on the dollar value of the property damage that was done.

If the damage is worth four hundred dollars ($400) or more, vandalism is a wobbler in California law. The penalties for vandalism in this case may include a jail sentence of between one (1) and three (3) years--and/or a fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or even more if the damage is very extensive.3

In fact, in the summer of 2014, the Los Angeles County sheriff's department was even recommending that the pop star Justin Bieber be charged with California felony vandalism--just for tossing a few eggs at his neighbor's house!

If the damage is worth less than four hundred dollars ($400), vandalism is still punishable by misdemeanor penalties of up to one (1) year in county jail, and/or a maximum one thousand dollar ($1,000) fine.4

Legal defenses

But don't despair -- an experienced California vandalism defense attorney may be able to help you get Penal Code 594 PC vandalism charges reduced or dismissed. There are several legal defenses that could be helpful with this, including:

  • You damaged someone else's property by accident;
  • You were falsely accused; and / or
  • You were the victim of mistaken identity.

In order to help you better understand Penal Code 594 PC, California's vandalism statute, our California criminal defense attorneys5 will address the following:

1. The Legal Definition of Vandalism in California

2. Penalties for Violating California's Vandalism Law

2.1. Misdemeanor vandalism under Penal Code 594 PC
2.2. Felony vandalism under Penal Code 594 PC
2.3. Penalties for graffiti with damage less than $250 - Penal Code 640.5 and 640.6 PC
2.4. Penalties for other types of vandalism
2.5. Expunging your California vandalism conviction

3. Legal Defenses to Penal Code 594 PC

4. Penal Code 594 PC Vandalism and
Related Offenses

4.1. Penal Code 602 PC trespass
4.2. Penal Code 459 PC burglary
4.3. Penal Code 451 PC arson
4.4. Penal Code 186.22 PC California's criminal street
gang enhancement
4.5. California domestic violence laws

5. Juveniles and California Vandalism Charges

If, after reading this article, you would like more information, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

You may also find helpful information in our related articles on The California Juvenile Court System; Definition of a Wobbler in California Law; Definition of a California Felony; Definition of a Misdemeanor in California Law; California Theft Crimes; Explanation of California Probation and Probation Violation Hearings; Definition of an Infraction in California Law; California "Hate Crimes" Laws; How to Expunge Your California Criminal Record; How to Reduce a Felony Conviction to a Misdemeanor Penal Code 17(b) PC; Early Termination of Probation in California Criminal Cases; Common Legal Defenses to California Crimes; Accident as a Legal Defense Under California Criminal Law; Penal Code 602 PC California's Trespass Law; Penal Code 459 PC California's Burglary Law; Penal Code 451 PC California's Arson Law; Penal Code 186.22 PC California's Criminal Street Gang Enhancement; California Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys; Corporal Injury on a Spouse; and Domestic Battery.

1. The Legal Definition of Vandalism in California

The legal definition of vandalism in California revolves around three facts (known as the "elements of the crime"). The prosecutor is required to prove all three facts in order to convict you of vandalism under Penal Code 594 PC.

The elements of the crime of California vandalism are:

  1. that you maliciously "defaced with graffiti or other inscribed material," damaged, or destroyed property,
  2. that you did not own the property or owned it with someone else, and
  3. that the amount of the defacement, damage, or destruction was either
a. less than $400 in a misdemeanor prosecution, or

b. $400 or more in a felony prosecution.6
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Let's take a closer look at some of these terms to gain a better understanding of the legal definition of vandalism in California.

Defaced with graffiti or other inscribed material

"Graffiti or other inscribed material" refers to "any unauthorized inscription, word, figure, mark, or design that is written, marked, etched, scratched, drawn or painted on real or personal property."7 In other words, any unauthorized writing or drawing on property, using pretty much any kind of tool, can qualify.

"Real" property includes land and anything attached to it (a building, a home, etc.).  "Personal" property is anything else (the furniture inside your house, your car, etc.).

There is no requirement that the "defacement with graffiti or other inscribed material" be permanent.8

Example: Nick uses a marker to write his initials on the glass window of the projection booth at a movie theater.

Even though the initials may be easily removed by cleaning the glass, he has still written on someone else's property.  So Nick is guilty of defacing property with graffiti or other inscribed materials in violation of Penal Code 594 PC, California's vandalism law.9

Property that you did not own or owned with someone else

Although this element of the crime of vandalism may seem obvious, there are actually a couple of issues that warrant discussion.

First, if the alleged vandalism appears on "public" property (like a park bench), the jury is allowed to presume that you did not own the property -- and did not have permission to deface, damage, or destroy it.10

Second, Penal Code 594 PC, California's vandalism law, also applies to property that you own jointly with another person.  This means that a husband or wife can be convicted of vandalizing his/her own property if the defaced, damaged, or destroyed property belonged to both him/her and his/her spouse.11

Example: Otis is horrified when he learns that his wife has been cheating on him for years with his best friend. Because he wants her to feel some of the humiliation he now feels, he spray-paints the word "Whore" on the outside wall of the house they own together.

Otis may be guilty of California vandalism for defacing property that is jointly owned by both him and his wife.

Maliciously

Acting "maliciously" means that you either

  1. intentionally do a wrongful act, or
  2. act with the unlawful intent to annoy or injure someone else.12

It doesn't necessarily mean that you intend to break the law per se.

So if you don't maliciously deface, damage, or destroy another person's property...but only accidentally do so...you aren't guilty of California vandalism.

The amount of damage

If the cost to repair or replace the defaced, damaged, or destroyed item is less than four hundred dollars ($400), prosecutors can only charge you with misdemeanor vandalism.

If the cost is four hundred dollars ($400) or more, then vandalism becomes a wobbler in California law--which means that prosecutors have the option of charging you with either a felony or a misdemeanor.13

In this way, California vandalism is similar to certain California theft crimes...in that the penalties are based on the value of the damage that you cause (or of the items that you stole).

Also, if you are accused of one or more acts of vandalism that the prosecution can prove were part of the "same intention, impulse and plan," then all the acts will be added together.  If the total value of the damage is $400 or more, then the prosecutor may charge you with felony vandalism.14

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Example:  In order to get even with his enemy Ray, Arthur smashes Ray's windshield, which causes $150 worth of damage.  During the same attack, Arthur also knocks Ray's cell phone out of his hand, causing Ray to drop it.  The cell phone, which cost $350, breaks when it hits the ground.

So each act of vandalism is worth less than $400 -- but added together they are worth $500.

Given these facts, prosecutors could charge Arthur with felony vandalism instead of two acts of misdemeanor vandalism.15

But keep in mind that just because the prosecutor charges you with felony vandalism doesn't mean that you will be convicted of felony vandalism.  If, for example, the jury in a felony vandalism trial decides that you committed vandalism -- but is not convinced that the damage adds up to $400 or more -- they could convict you of misdemeanor vandalism instead.

2. Penalties for Violating California's Vandalism Law

The scheme of penalties, punishment, and sentencing for California vandalism is surprisingly complicated.

2.1. Misdemeanor vandalism under Penal Code 594 PC

As we have discussed above, in most vandalism cases, if the value of the damage is less than four hundred dollars ($400), then vandalism is a misdemeanor.16

In that case, the following vandalism penalties may apply:

  • up to one (1) year in a county jail,
  • a maximum fine of one thousand dollars ($1,000) -- OR up to five thousand dollars ($5,000) if you have a prior vandalism conviction, and/or
  • informal (otherwise known as "summary") probation.

Potential conditions of probation for a vandalism conviction include the following:

  • a California driver's license suspension of up to two (2) years (or, if you don't yet have a driver's license, a 1-to-3 year delay in your eligibility to obtain a driver's license),
  • required counseling,
  • community service (which may include personally cleaning, repairing, or replacing the damaged property), and/or
  • being tasked with keeping the damaged property or another property in the community "graffiti free" for up to one year.17
2.2. Felony vandalism under Penal Code 594 PC

Penal Code 594 PC vandalism becomes a wobbler when the damage to the vandalized property is four hundred dollars ($400) or greater, .

This means that the prosecutor can decide to charge you with vandalism as either a misdemeanor or a felony.18 Prosecutors generally base this decision on:

  1. the circumstances of the case, and
  2. your criminal history.

If the amount of the damage is $400 or greater, and you are convicted of misdemeanor vandalism under Penal Code 594 PC, you may face

  • up to one (1) year in a county jail,
  • a maximum fine of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) -- OR up to fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) if the amount of the damage was $10,000 or more, and/or
  • the same probation conditions listed in Section 2.1, above.19
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If the amount of the damage is $400 or greater, and you are convicted of felony vandalism under Penal Code 545 PC, you face

  • either (a) probation with up to one year of country jail, or (b) a jail sentence of sixteen (16) months, two (2) years or three (3) years,
  • a maximum fine of ten thousand dollars ($10,000)...OR up to fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) if the amount of the damage was $10,000 or more, and/or
  • the same probation conditions listed in Section 2.1, above.20

It's also important to note that, if you have been previously convicted of vandalism on at least two occasions -- and were either incarcerated or granted probation in at least one of the cases -- you must serve a jail or prison sentence in the current case.21

2.3. Penalties for graffiti with damage less than $250 - Penal Code 640.5 and 640.6 PC

If

  1. the form of vandalism you are charged with is defacing property with "graffiti or other inscribed material" (as opposed to the other forms of vandalism described above); AND
  2. the cost to repair the graffiti damage is less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250),

the prosecutor may choose to charge you under a different, less harsh penalty scheme that is set forth in Penal Code 640.5 and 640.6 PC.22

This is up to the prosecutor's discretion. S/he also may choose to charge you with normal misdemeanor vandalism under Penal Code 594 PC.23

If you are charged under Penal Code 640.5 or 640.6 PC, California's graffiti laws, the potential penalty depends on whether this is your first, second, or third (or subsequent) California graffiti or vandalism conviction.

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Grafitti -- as opposed to other types of vandalism. -- may be charged under Penal Code 640.5 PC or 640.6 PC if the cost to repair the damage is under $250.

First conviction

If you have no previous California vandalism conviction, then under Penal Code 640.5 and 640.6 PC, your graffiti offense will be an infraction.

The potential infraction penalties are:

  • a maximum one thousand dollar ($1,000) fine, and
  • community service.24

Second conviction

If you have a previous vandalism conviction (under these statutes, Penal Code 594 PC, or any other California vandalism law), then graffiti costing less than $250 to repair becomes a misdemeanor.25

However, the misdemeanor penalties under Penal Code 640.5 PC and 640.6 PC, California's graffiti laws, are less than those under Penal Code 594 PC. They include:

  • up to six (6) months in county jail,
  • a fine of up to two thousand dollars ($2,000), and/or
  • community service.26

Third and subsequent convictions

If you have been convicted of a California vandalism offense on two (or more) previous occasions and were given a jail sentence or probation for at least one of those convictions -- and you are charged with graffiti costing under $250 under Penal Code 640.5 or 640.6 PC --, then you will face the following misdemeanor penalties:

  • Up to one (1) year in county jail,
  • Up to three thousand dollars ($3,000) in fines, and/or
  • Community service.27
2.4. Penalties for other types of vandalism

California Penal Code 594 PC is not California's only vandalism law.  There are several other Penal Code sections that prescribe different penalties for vandalism.  These vandalism statutes set the punishment based on the type of vandalism -- or the type of property that is vandalized -- rather than the cost of the damage.

Vandalizing places of worship - Penal Code 594.3 PC

Under Penal Code 594.3 PC, if you vandalize a church, temple, or other place of worship, vandalism is always a wobbler -- regardless of the cost to repair the damage.28

A misdemeanor conviction for vandalizing a place of worship subjects you to

  • up to one (1) year in a county jail,
  • a maximum one thousand dollar ($1,000) fine, and
  • the probation conditions listed in Section 2.1 above.29

A felony conviction for vandalizing a place of worship subjects you to

  • incarceration for sixteen (16) months, two (2) years or three (3) years,
  • a maximum fine of ten thousand dollars ($10,000), and/or
  • the probation conditions listed in Section 2.1 above.30
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But if your act of vandalism is categorized as a "hate crime" -- that is, an act committed for the purpose of intimidating or scaring a victim based on the victim's religious beliefs --, then you face an automatic felony sentence.31

A very similar vandalism statute is Penal Code 594.35 PC. This law prescribes the same penalties for acts of vandalism that are committed at a cemetery or mortuary.32

Vandalism involving caustic chemicals - Penal Code 594.4 PC

The specific act of committing vandalism using "butyric acid, or any other similar noxious or caustic chemical or substance" is also a wobbler regardless of the amount of damage done.33

Vandalism involving chemicals as a misdemeanor subjects you to up to six (6) months in a county jail.

If vandalism involving chemicals is charged as a felony, it can lead to a sentence of sixteen (16) months, two (2) years or three (3) years.

Either conviction subjects you to a maximum fine ranging from one thousand dollars ($1,000) to fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) (depending on the amount of damage to the vandalized property) -- and to the other probation conditions described in Section 2.1 above.34

Vandalizing on or near a highway or freeway - Penal Code 640.7 and 640.8 PC

Penal Code sections 640.7 and 640.8 PC set out the penalties for acts of vandalism that occur on or near a highway or freeway.35

A conviction under either of these sections is a misdemeanor, punishable by

  • time in county jail (up to six (6) months for a first conviction of vandalism near a highway, and up to one (1) year for a second conviction or a first conviction of vandalism near a freeway),
  • a maximum one thousand dollar ($1,000) fine for vandalism on or near a highway, and a maximum five thousand dollar ($5,000) fine for vandalism on or near a freeway, and
  • counseling or community service.36
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2.5. Expunging your California vandalism conviction

If you are given a sentence of probation in a misdemeanor or felony vandalism case, you may expunge your California criminal record once you successfully complete the probationary period.37

However, the judge can deny you an expungement if you suffer a probation violation or fail to adhere to all the terms and conditions of probation.38

And if you are convicted of felony vandalism, the court may be willing to reduce the felony conviction to a misdemeanor.39

Finally, the court may also grant an early termination of probation if you comply with all the terms and conditions of probation for the first year or two.40

3. Legal Defenses to Penal Code 594 PC

There are a variety of legal defenses to Penal Code 594 PC vandalism charges that a good California criminal defense lawyer can present on your behalf.  The following are some of the most common:

Accident

As Pasadena criminal defense attorney Nicole Valera explains41 ,

"If you don't maliciously deface, damage, or destroy another's property...but only accidentally do so...you don't violate California's vandalism law.  Period."

This means that if you unintentionally damage or destroy property, you can argue "accident" as a legal defense.42

False allegations / wrongful arrest

Because vandalism can frequently occur in connection with California domestic violence cases, it is not uncommon for an innocent individual to be the victim of false accusations and a wrongful arrest.

Feelings of jealousy, anger, or revenge can compel people to make false allegations against an innocent individual in an effort to gain control over that person.  People commonly destroy property (sometimes even accidentally) and then try to lay the blame on their current or former spouse or partner.

Similarly, someone may falsely accuse another person of vandalism in order to cover-up his/her own criminal culpability.  This could be the case if, for example, a group of teenagers are out spraying graffiti...and other members of the group decide to make one of them "take the fall."

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Mistaken identity

You may also be falsely accused of violating California's vandalism law under Penal Code 594 PC based on mistaken identity.  This might be the case if, for example,

  • you match the description of a person who did vandalize property,
  • you were with one or more people who vandalized property, even though you didn't personally violate the law, or
  • someone mistakenly believed you were the one who damaged his/her property...and blamed you for doing so...even though you were not involved.

4. Penal Code 594 PC Vandalism and Related Offenses

There are a variety of offenses that are commonly charged in connection with -- or instead of -- California vandalism.  These include:

4.1. Penal Code 602 PC trespass

Penal Code 602 PC, California's trespass law, prohibits entering another person's property without the right to do so.43

This means that if you are on another person's property when you allegedly violate California's vandalism law -- as is quite common -- prosecutors could charge you with both offenses.

California trespass is typically (but not always) a misdemeanor.44

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4.2. Penal Code 459 PC burglary

Penal Code 459 PC, California's burglary law, prohibits entering another person's property with the intent of committing a felony or petty theft once inside.45

So, if prosecutors believe that you entered someone else's property intending to commit felony vandalism . . . they will likely charge you with vandalism AND burglary.

Burglary of an inhabited house or structure is a felony, carrying a state prison term of up to (6) years. Burglary of uninhabited structures (that is, buildings where no one is living) is a wobbler.46

4.3. Penal Code 451 PC arson

Penal Code 451 PC, California's arson law, prohibits maliciously setting fire to another person's property -- and, in some special cases, your own property.47

If prosecutors charge you with California arson for setting fire to another person's property, they may also charge you with maliciously damaging or destroying that same property under California's vandalism law.

California malicious arson is a felony. The penalties depend on

  1. the type of property at issue,
  2. whether or not someone was injured in the fire, and
  3. whether you set the fire willfully or only "recklessly."48
4.4. Penal Code 186.22 PC California's criminal street gang enhancement

Penal Code 186.22 PC, California's criminal street gang enhancement, adds an additional penalty to any felony (or attempted felony) conviction when the offense is committed for the benefit of, or on the orders of, any criminal street gang -- with the specific intent to further the gang's criminal activity.49

Since "tagging"-that is, graffiti-is a common way to promote one's gang, prosecutors will likely file this gang enhancement in connection with any felony vandalism charges involving graffiti that suggests gang or tagging crew affiliation.

4.5. California domestic violence laws

As we discussed above, the crime of vandalism occurs when someone maliciously damages property that they own jointly with someone else. This scenario is most likely to occur in connection with domestic disputes -- when one spouse or partner, during a fight with the other, damages property they both own.

This means that vandalism charges are sometimes brought in connection with California domestic violence charges.

One California domestic violence offense is corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant (Penal Code 273.5 PC).  This occurs when someone willfully inflicts a bodily injury on their spouse -- and the injury results in a "traumatic condition" like a visible wound.50

Another possible domestic violence charge is the misdemeanor offense of domestic battery (Penal Code 243e1 PC).51 This offense may be charged if there is any allegation that you willfully inflicted any amount of force or violence -- even a very small amount that left no mark or wound -- on your spouse.52

Example:  During an argument with her husband Tom, Sue throws one of their vases at Tom, injuring him and shattering the vase.  Given these facts, prosecutors could charge Sue with corporal injury on a spouse and Penal Code 594 PC vandalism.

5. Juveniles and California Vandalism Charges

Minors make up a large percentage of people arrested for vandalism. For example, in Los Angeles County, more than half of all misdemeanor vandalism arrests in 2010 were of juveniles.53

If your child is arrested on vandalism charges, it is important that you work with a criminal defense attorney who has experience both with vandalism defense and with proceedings in the California juvenile court system.

It is also important for parents of minors facing juvenile charges for vandalism to understand that some vandalism penalties may affect them...and not just their child.

For example, if your child is convicted under California's vandalism law, you may be required to pay his/her fines if s/he is unable to do so.54

Also, if your minor child is sentenced to community service for vandalism, you may be required to help him/her fulfill these requirements.55

Call us for help...
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If you or loved one is charged with Penal Code 594 PC vandalism and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.

For  information on Nevada's vandalism law, visit our page on Nevada's vandalism and malicious mischief laws.

Online Resources:

California Courts Center for Children and Families: Juvenile Justice Resources

Legal References:

1 California Penal Code 594 PC - Vandalism.  ("(a) Every person who maliciously commits any of the following acts with respect to any real or personal property not his or her own, in cases other than those specified by state law, is guilty of vandalism: (1) Defaces with graffiti or other inscribed material. (2) Damages. (3) Destroys.")

2 California Penal Code 594 PC - Vandalism. ("(b)(1) If the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction is four hundred dollars ($400) or more, vandalism is punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or if the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction is ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or more, by a fine of not more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment. (2) (A) If the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction is less than four hundred dollars ($400), vandalism is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment. (B) If the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction is less than four hundred dollars ($400), and the defendant has been previously convicted of vandalism or affixing graffiti or other inscribed material under Section 594, 594.3, 594.4, 640.5, 640.6, or 640.7, vandalism is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.")

3 See same.

4 See same.

5 Our California criminal defense attorneys have local Los Angeles law offices in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Pomona, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina, and Whittier.  We have additional law offices conveniently located throughout the state in Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.

6 Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions ("CALCRIM") 2900 - Vandalism. ("To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that: 1. The defendant maliciously (defaced with graffiti or with other inscribed material[,]/ [or] damaged[,]/ [or] destroyed) (real/ [or] personal) property; [AND] 2. The defendant (did not own the property/owned the property with someone else)(;/.) <See Bench Notes regarding when to give element 3. > [AND 3. The amount of damage caused by the vandalism was $400 or more.])"See also CALCRIM 2900 - Vandalism, Bench Notes. ("If the defendant is charged with a felony for causing $400 or more in damage and the court is not instructing on the misdemeanor offense, give element 3.")

7 Penal Code 594 PC - Vandalism.  ("(e) As used in this section, the term "graffiti or other inscribed material" includes any unauthorized inscription, word, figure, mark, or design, that is written, marked, etched, scratched, drawn, or painted on real or personal property.")

8 In re Nicholas Y., (2000) 85 Cal.App.4th 941, 944.  ("It would be irrational to hold that use of a marker pen on, for example, a painted or stucco surface constitutes vandalism in violation of Penal Code section 594, subdivision (a)(1) [California's vandalism law] while use of a marker pen on glass is not. Each mars the surface with graffiti which must be removed in order to restore the original condition. This pragmatic fact is consistent with the primary meaning of the word deface as defined in the Oxford English Dictionary: "To mar the face, features, or appearance of; to spoil or ruin the figure, form, or beauty of; to disfigure." FN1 This definition does not incorporate an element of permanence. Thus, it appears that a marring of the surface is no less a defacement because it is more easily removed.")

9 These facts are based on those in In re Nicholas Y, endnote 8, above.

10 Penal Code 594 PC - Vandalism.  ("(a) . . . Whenever a person violates this subdivision with respect to real property, vehicles, signs, fixtures, furnishings, or property belonging to any public entity, as defined by Section 811.2 of the Government Code, or the federal government, it shall be a permissive inference that the person neither owned the property nor had the permission of the owner to deface, damage, or destroy the property.")

11 People v. Wallace, (2004) 123 Cal.App.4th 144, 149.  ("Instead, on the question before us, we broaden our holding in Kahanic to embrace the emerging rule imposing criminal liability on a spouse for intentionally causing harm to property in which the other spouse has an interest, whether the property is individual or marital, whether the harm occurs outside or inside the marital home.")

12 CALCRIM 2900 - Vandalism.  ("Someone acts maliciously when he or she intentionally does a wrongful act or when he or she acts with the unlawful intent to annoy or injure someone else.")

13 Penal Code 594 PC - Vandalism, endnote 1, above.

14 In re Arthur V., (2008) 166 Cal.App.4th 61, 68.  ("The offense of vandalism, like that of theft [under California's theft crimes laws], can be either a felony or misdemeanor depending on the value of property at issue. (See § 487, subd. (a) [defining grand theft as taking of property worth over $400]; [California Penal Code] § 594, subd. (b)(1) [defining felony vandalism as destruction of property worth over $400]; see also Sangha v. La Barbera (2006) 146 Cal.App.4th 79, 87, fn. 6, 52 Cal.Rptr.3d 640 [distinguishing felony from misdemeanor vandalism].) If, as our Supreme Court held in Bailey, supra, 55 Cal.2d 514, 11 Cal.Rptr. 543, 360 P.2d 39, there is properly a legal dividing line between cases where misdemeanor theft offenses can and cannot properly be aggregated to form a felony offense, there can be little dispute that a dividing line that serves the same purpose is appropriate in vandalism cases."...and at 69, "As with theft offenses, multiple instances of misdemeanor vandalism can be aggregated to form a single felony unless "the evidence shows that the offenses are separate and distinct and were not committed pursuant to one intention, one general impulse, and one plan."")

15 These facts were based on In re Arthur V., endnote 14, above.

16 Penal Code 594 PC - Vandalism, endnote 1, above.

17 See same, Vandalism.

See also Penal Code 594.6 PC - Vandalism or affixing graffiti; community service or graffiti removal; counseling.  ("(a) Every person who, having been convicted of vandalism or affixing graffiti or other inscribed material under Section 594, 594.3, 594.4, or 640.7, or any combination of these offenses, may be ordered by the court as a condition of probation to perform community service not to exceed 300 hours over a period not to exceed 240 days during a time other than his or her hours of school attendance or employment. Nothing in this subdivision shall limit the court from ordering the defendant to perform a longer period of community service if a longer period of community service is authorized under other provisions of law. (b) In lieu of the community service that may be ordered pursuant to subdivision (a), the court may, if a jurisdiction has adopted a graffiti abatement program as defined in subdivision (f) of Section 594 [California's vandalism law], order the defendant, and his or her parents or guardians if the defendant is a minor, as a condition of probation, to keep a specified property in the community free of graffiti for up to one year. Participation of a parent or guardian is not required under this subdivision if the court deems this participation to be detrimental to the defendant, or if the parent or guardian is a single parent who must care for young children. (c) The court may order any person ordered to perform community service or graffiti removal pursuant to subdivision (a) or (b) to undergo counseling.")

See also Vehicle Code 13202.6 VC - Vandalism by defacing or destroying property; convictions of persons age 13 or older; suspension or delay of driving privilege; reduction of period for community service.  ("(a)(1) For every conviction of a person for a violation of Section 594, 594.3, or 594.4 of the Penal Code [that is, California's vandalism laws], committed while the person was 13 years of age or older, the court shall suspend the person's driving privilege for not more than two years, except when the court finds that a personal or family hardship exists that requires the person to have a driver's license for his or her own, or a member of his or her family's, employment, school, or medically related purposes. If the person convicted does not yet have the privilege to drive, the court shall order the department to delay issuing the privilege to drive for not less than one year nor more than three years subsequent to the time the person becomes legally eligible to drive. However, if there is no further conviction for violating Section 594, 594.3, or 594.4 of the Penal Code in a 12-month period after the conviction, the court, upon petition of the person affected, may modify the order imposing the delay of the privilege. For each successive offense, the court shall suspend the person's driving privilege for those possessing a license or delay the eligibility for those not in possession of a license at the time of their conviction for one additional year. (2) A person whose driving privilege is suspended or delayed for an act involving vandalism in violation of Section 594, 594.3, or 594.4 of the Penal Code [California's vandalism laws], may elect to reduce the period of suspension or delay imposed by the court by performing community service under the supervision of the probation department. The period of suspension or delay ordered under paragraph (1) shall be reduced at the rate of one day for each hour of community service performed. If the jurisdiction has adopted a graffiti abatement program as defined in subdivision (f) of Section 594 of the Penal Code, the period of suspension or delay ordered under paragraph (1) shall be reduced at the rate of one day for each day of community service performed in the graffiti abatement program when the defendant and his or her parents or legal guardians are responsible for keeping a specified property in the community free of graffiti for a specified period of time. The suspension shall be reduced only when the specified period of participation has been completed. Participation of a parent or legal guardian is not required under this paragraph if the court deems this participation to be detrimental to the defendant, or if the parent or legal guardian is a single parent who must care for young children. For purposes of this paragraph, "community service" means cleaning up graffiti from any public property, including public transit vehicles. (3) As used in this section, the term "conviction" includes the findings in juvenile proceedings specified in Section 13105. (b)(1) Whenever the court suspends driving privileges pursuant to subdivision (a), the court in which the conviction is had shall require all drivers' licenses held by the person to be surrendered to the court. The court shall, within 10 days following the conviction, transmit a certified abstract of the conviction, together with any drivers' licenses surrendered, to the department. (2) Violations of restrictions imposed pursuant to this section are subject to Section 14603. (c) The suspension, restriction, or delay of driving privileges pursuant to this section shall be in addition to any penalty imposed upon conviction of a violation of Section 594, 594.3, or 594.4 of the Penal Code.")

18 Penal Code 594 PC - Vandalism, endnote 1, above.

19 See same.  See also Penal Code 594.6 PC -- Vandalism or affixing graffiti, endnote 17, above. See also Vehicle Code 13202.6 -- Vandalism by defacing or destroying property; convictions of persons age 13 or older; suspension or delay of driving privilege; reduction of period for community service, endnote 17, above.

20 See same.

See also Penal Code 1170(h) PC. ("(h)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (3), a felony punishable pursuant to this subdivision where the term is not specified in the underlying offense [such as felony vandalism] shall be punishable by a term of imprisonment in a county jail for 16 months, or two or three years.")

21 Penal Code 594.7 PC - Subsequent conviction of vandalism; punishment.  ("Notwithstanding subdivision (b) of [California Penal Code] Section 594, every person who, having been convicted previously of vandalism under Section 594 [California's vandalism law] for maliciously defacing with graffiti or other inscribed material any real or personal property not his or her own on two separate occasions and having been incarcerated pursuant to a sentence, a conditional sentence, or a grant of probation for at least one of the convictions, is subsequently convicted of vandalism under Section 594, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or in the state prison.")

22 Penal Code 640.5 PC - Graffiti [form of vandalism]; government facilities or vehicles; penalties; community service; graffiti abatement programs. "(a)(1) Any person who defaces with graffiti or other inscribed material the interior or exterior of the facilities or vehicles of a governmental entity, as defined by Section 811.2 of the Government Code, or the interior or exterior of the facilities or vehicles of a public transportation system as defined by Section 99211 of the Public Utilities Code, or the interior or exterior of the facilities of or vehicles operated by entities subsidized by the Department of Transportation or the interior or exterior of any leased or rented facilities or vehicles for which any of the above entities incur costs of less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) for cleanup, repair, or replacement is guilty of an infraction, punishable by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) and by a minimum of 48 hours of community service for a total time not to exceed 200 hours over a period not to exceed 180 days, during a time other than his or her hours of school attendance or employment. This subdivision does not preclude application of [Penal Code] Section 594 [California's vandalism law]. (2) In lieu of the community service required pursuant to paragraph (1), the court may, if a jurisdiction has adopted a graffiti abatement program as defined in subdivision (f) of Section 594, order the defendant, and his or her parents or guardians if the defendant is a minor, to keep a specified property in the community free of graffiti for 90 days. Participation of a parent or guardian is not required under this paragraph if the court deems this participation to be detrimental to the defendant, or if the parent or guardian is a single parent who must care for young children. (b)(1) If the person has been convicted previously of an infraction under subdivision (a) or has a prior conviction of Section 594, 594.3, 594.4, 640.6, or 640.7 [California's vandalism laws], the offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed six months, by a fine not to exceed two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine. As a condition of probation, the court shall order the defendant to perform a minimum of 96 hours of community service not to exceed 400 hours over a period not to exceed 350 days during a time other than his or her hours of school attendance or employment. (2) In lieu of the community service required pursuant to paragraph (1), the court may, if a jurisdiction has adopted a graffiti abatement program as defined in subdivision (f) of Section 594, order the defendant, and his or her parents or guardians if the defendant is a minor, as a condition of probation, to keep a specified property in the community free of graffiti for 180 days. Participation of a parent or guardian is not required under this paragraph if the court deems this participation to be detrimental to the defendant, or if the parent or guardian is a single parent who must care for young children. (c)(1) Every person who, having been convicted previously under this section or Section 594, 594.3, 594.4, 640.6, or 640.7, or any combination of these offenses, on two separate occasions, and having been incarcerated pursuant to a sentence, a conditional sentence, or a grant of probation for at least one of the convictions, is subsequently convicted under this section, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed three thousand dollars ($3,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine. As a condition of probation, the court may order the defendant to perform community service not to exceed 600 hours over a period not to exceed 480 days during a time other than his or her hours of school attendance or employment. (2) In lieu of the community service that may be ordered pursuant to paragraph (1), the court may, if a jurisdiction has adopted a graffiti abatement program as defined in subdivision (f) of [Penal Code] Section 594 [California's vandalism law], order the defendant, and his or her parents or guardians if the defendant is a minor, as a condition of probation, to keep a specified property in the community free of graffiti for 240 days. Participation of a parent or guardian is not required under this paragraph if the court deems this participation to be detrimental to the defendant, or if the parent or guardian is a single parent who must care for young children. (d)(1) Upon conviction of any person under subdivision (a), the court, in addition to any punishment imposed pursuant to subdivision (a), (b), or (c), at the victim's option, may order the defendant to perform the necessary labor to clean up, repair, or replace the property damaged by that person. (2) If a minor is personally unable to pay any fine levied for violating subdivision (a), (b), or (c), the parent or legal guardian of the minor shall be liable for payment of the fine. A court may waive payment of the fine or any part thereof by the parent or legal guardian upon a finding of good cause. (e) Any fine levied for a violation of subdivision (a), (b), or (c) shall be credited by the county treasurer pursuant to Section 1463.29 to the governmental entity having jurisdiction over, or responsibility for, the facility or vehicle involved, to be used for removal of the graffiti or other inscribed material or replacement or repair of the property defaced by the graffiti or other inscribed material. Before crediting these fines to the appropriate governmental entity, the county may determine the administrative costs it has incurred pursuant to this section, and retain an amount equal to those costs. Any community service which is required pursuant to subdivision (a), (b), or (c) of a person under the age of 18 years may be performed in the presence, and under the direct supervision, of the person's parent or legal guardian. (f) As used in this section, the term "graffiti or other inscribed material" includes any unauthorized inscription, word, figure, mark, or design that is written, marked, etched, scratched, drawn, or painted on real or personal property. (g) The court may order any person ordered to perform community service or graffiti removal pursuant to subdivision (a), (b), (c), or (d) to undergo counseling.")

See also Penal Code 640.6 PC - Graffiti [form of vandalism]; penalties; community service; graffiti abatement program.  ("(a)(1) Except as provided in Section 640.5, any person who defaces with graffiti or other inscribed material any real or personal property not his or her own, when the amount of the defacement, damage, or destruction is less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250), is guilty of an infraction, punishable by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000). This subdivision does not preclude application of [Penal Code] Section 594 [California's vandalism law]. In addition to the penalty set forth in this section, the court shall order the defendant to perform a minimum of 48 hours of community service not to exceed 200 hours over a period not to exceed 180 days during a time other than his or her hours of school attendance or employment.")  The remainder of Penal Code 640.6 PC reads identical to Penal Code 640.5, above.

23 See same - Graffiti [form of vandalism].

24 See same - Graffiti [form of vandalism].

25 See same - Graffiti [form of vandalism].

26 See same - Graffiti [form of vandalism].

27 See same - Graffiti [form of vandalism].

28 Penal Code 594.3 PC -- Vandalism; church, synagogue, mosque, temple, building of religious educational institution or other place of worship; punishment if based on racial or religious prejudice.  ("(a) Any person who knowingly commits any act of vandalism to a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, building owned and occupied by a religious educational institution, or other place primarily used as a place of worship where religious services are regularly conducted or a cemetery is guilty of a crime punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not exceeding one year or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.")

29 See same, Vandalism; church, synagogue, mosque, temple, building of religious educational institution or other place of worship; punishment if based on racial or religious prejudice.

See also Penal Code 594.6 PC -- Vandalism or affixing graffiti, endnote 17, above.

See also Vehicle Code 13202.6 -- Vandalism by defacing or destroying property; convictions of persons age 13 or older; suspension or delay of driving privilege; reduction of period for community service, endnote 17, above.

30 See same.

31 Penal Code 594.3 PC - Vandalism; church, synagogue, mosque, temple, building of religious educational institution or other place of worship; punishment if based on racial or religious prejudice.  ("(b) Any person who knowingly commits any act of vandalism to a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, building owned and occupied by a religious educational institution, or other place primarily used as a place of worship where religious services are regularly conducted or a cemetery, which is shown to have been a hate crime and to have been committed for the purpose of intimidating and deterring persons from freely exercising their religious beliefs, is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170. (c) For purposes of this section, "hate crime" has the same meaning as Section 422.55.")

See also Penal Code 422.55 PC - "Hate crime" [including in the context of vandalism] defined.  ("For purposes of this title, and for purposes of all other state law unless an explicit provision of law or the context clearly requires a different meaning, the following shall apply: (a) "Hate crime" means a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim: (1) Disability. (2) Gender. (3) Nationality. (4) Race or ethnicity. (5) Religion. (6) Sexual orientation. (7) Association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.")

32 Penal Code 594.35 PC - Crimes and punishment; destruction [vandalism] of cemetery or mortuary property.  ("Every person is guilty of a crime and punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 or by imprisonment in a county jail for not exceeding one year, who maliciously does any of the following: (a) Destroys, cuts, mutilates, effaces, or otherwise injures, tears down, or removes any tomb, monument, memorial, or marker in a cemetery, or any gate, door, fence, wall, post or railing, or any inclosure for the protection of a cemetery or mortuary or any property in a cemetery or mortuary. (b) Obliterates any grave, vault, niche, or crypt. (c) Destroys, cuts, breaks or injures any mortuary building or any building, statuary, or ornamentation within the limits of a cemetery. (d) Disturbs, obstructs, detains or interferes with any person carrying or accompanying human remains to a cemetery or funeral establishment, or engaged in a funeral service, or an interment.")

33 Penal Code 594.4 PC - Vandalism; structure; noxious or caustic chemicals or substances.  ("(a) Any person who willfully and maliciously injects into or throws upon, or otherwise defaces, damages, destroys, or contaminates, any structure with butyric acid, or any other similar noxious or caustic chemical or substance, is guilty of a public offense, punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 or in a county jail, by a fine as specified in subdivision (b), or by both that imprisonment and fine. (b)(1) If the amount of the defacement, damage, destruction, or contamination is fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) or more, by a fine of not more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000). (2) If the amount of the defacement, damage, destruction, or contamination is five thousand dollars ($5,000) or more, but less than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000). (3) If the amount of defacement, damage, destruction, or contamination is nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) or more, but less than five thousand dollars ($5,000), by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000). (4) If the amount of the defacement, damage, destruction, or contamination is less than nine hundred fifty dollars ($950), by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000). (c) For purposes of this section, "structure" includes any house or other building being used at the time of the offense for a dwelling or for commercial purposes.")

34 See same, Vandalism; structure; noxious or caustic chemicals or substances.

See also Penal Code 594.6 PC -- Vandalism or affixing graffiti, endnote 17, above.

See also Vehicle Code 13202.6 -- Vandalism by defacing or destroying property; convictions of persons age 13 or older; suspension or delay of driving privilege; reduction of period for community service, endnote 17, above.

35 Penal Code 640.7 PC - Violations of California's vandalism laws, Penal Code sections §§ 594, 640.5, and 640.6 on or within 100 feet of a highway or appurtenances; penalty.  ("Any person who violates [Penal Code] Section 594, 640.5, or 640.6 [California's vandalism laws] on or within 100 feet of a highway, or its appurtenances, including, but not limited to, guardrails, signs, traffic signals, snow poles, and similar facilities, excluding signs naming streets, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine. A second conviction is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.")

See also Penal Code 640.8 PC - Graffiti; freeways and appurtenances; penalties; community service.  ("Any person who violates Section 594, 640.5, or 640.6 [California's vandalism laws], on a freeway, or its appurtenances, including sound walls, overpasses, overpass supports, guardrails, signs, signals, and other traffic control devices, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine. As a condition of probation, the court may order the defendant to perform community service not to exceed 480 hours over a period not to exceed 420 days during a time other than his or her hours of school attendance or employment.")

36 See same.

37 Code 1203.4 PC -- Change of plea. This section outlines the procedures by which a defendant can expunge his California Penal Code 594 PC vandalism conviction from his criminal record.

38 See same.

39 Penal Code 17 PC - Reducing a wobbler [such as wobbler vandalism] from a felony to a misdemeanor.  ("(b) When a crime is punishable, in the discretion of the court, by imprisonment in the state prison or by fine or imprisonment in the county jail [as is Penal Code 594 PC, California's vandalism law], it is a misdemeanor for all purposes under the following circumstances:...(3) When the court grants probation to a defendant without imposition of sentence and at the time of granting probation, or on application of the defendant or probation officer thereafter, the court declares the offense to be a misdemeanor.")

40 Penal Code 1203.3 PC -- Probation; revocation, modification, termination. This code section outlines the procedures that must be followed in order to qualify for early termination of probation in a California vandalism case.

41 Pasadena criminal defense attorney Nicole Valera was a public defender with the Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office before she began working as a private criminal defense lawyer. She handles the gamut of felony, misdemeanor, and juvenile cases, including for crimes like vandalism, and represents clients at courthouses throughout the Los Angeles County court system and San Bernardino County court systems.

42 Penal Code 26 PC - Persons capable of committing crime; exceptions; accident as a valid California legal defense [to vandalism charges]. ("All persons are capable of committing crimes except those belonging to the following classes...Five--Persons who committed the act or made the omission charged through misfortune or by accident, when it appears that there was no evil design, intention, or culpable negligence...")

43 Penal Code 602 PC outlines more than 30 behaviors that can violate California trespass law. The elements that are common to all of them are that 1) you willfully enter someone else's property, and 2) you have the specific intent to interfere with that person's property rights (which could include committing vandalism).

44 See same.

45 Penal Code 459 PC - Burglary [may be charged along with vandalism].  ("Every person who enters any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store...with intent to commit grand or petit larceny or any felony is guilty of burglary.")

46 See Penal Code 460 PC; Penal Code 461 PC.

47 Penal Code 451 PC - Arson [may be charged along with vandalism].  ("A person is guilty of arson when he or she willfully and maliciously sets fire to or burns or causes to be burned or who aids, counsels, or procures the burning of, any structure, forest land, or property.")

48 See same, Arson [may be charged along with vandalism]. ("(a) Arson that causes great bodily injury is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for five, seven, or nine years. (b) Arson that causes an inhabited structure or inhabited property to burn is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, five, or eight years. (c) Arson of a structure or forest land is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four, or six years. (d) Arson of property is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, two, or three years. For purposes of this paragraph, arson of property does not include one burning or causing to be burned his or her own personal property unless there is an intent to defraud or there is injury to another person or another person's structure, forest land, or property.")

49 Penal Code 186.22 -- Participation in a criminal street gang; penalty.

50 Penal Code 273.5 PC - Willful infliction of corporal injury/ violation; punishment [may be charged along with vandalism]. ("(a) Any person who willfully inflicts upon a person who is his or her spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or the mother or father of his or her child, corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of up to six thousand dollars ($6,000) or by both that fine and imprisonment.")

51 Penal Code 243(e)(1) - Domestic battery [may be charged along with vandalism]. ("(e)(1) When a battery is committed against a spouse, a person with whom the defendant is cohabiting, a person who is the parent of the defendant's child, former spouse, fianc�, or fianc�e, or a person with whom the defendant currently has, or has previously had, a dating or engagement relationship, the battery is punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. If probation is granted, or the execution or imposition of the sentence is suspended, it shall be a condition thereof that the defendant participate in, for no less than one year, and successfully complete, a batterer's treatment program, as described in Section 1203.097, or if none is available, another appropriate counseling program designated by the court. However, this provision shall not be construed as requiring a city, a county, or a city and county to provide a new program or higher level of service as contemplated by Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.")

52 Penal Code 242 PC - Battery defined. ("Battery defined. A battery is any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.")

53 See California Office of the Attorney General, Los Angeles County Misdemeanor Arrests Statistical Chart, 2001-2010.

54 See, e.g., Penal Code 594 PC - Vandalism.  ("(d) If a minor is personally unable to pay a fine levied for acts prohibited by this section, the parent of that minor shall be liable for payment of the fine. A court may waive payment of the fine, or any part thereof, by the parent upon a finding of good cause.")

55 See, e.g., Penal Code 594.6 PC - Vandalism or affixing graffiti; community service or graffiti removal; counseling.  ("(b) In lieu of the community service that may be ordered pursuant to subdivision (a), the court may, if a jurisdiction has adopted a graffiti abatement program as defined in subdivision (f) of Section 594 [California's vandalism law], order the defendant, and his or her parents or guardians if the defendant is a minor, as a condition of probation, to keep a specified property in the community free of graffiti for up to one year. Participation of a parent or guardian is not required under this subdivision if the court deems this participation to be detrimental to the defendant, or if the parent or guardian is a single parent who must care for young children.")

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