Graffiti and vandalism laws in California

Chuck Smith Attorney at Law

California law makes intentional acts of vandalism and graffiti illegal. Furnishing materials associated with the creation of graffiti is also banned.

For example, it is a crime in California to give a minor etching cream or spray paint without first obtaining proof that the minor is a legal adult and confirming their identity. It’s also against the law for minors to purchase these items. Openly carrying these items in public without valid authorization is banned for all individuals, regardless of age.

Furthermore, it’s illegal to possess certain items such as felt tip markers, stone cutters, glass or stone drill bits or aerosol cans with the intent to create graffiti. Violation of graffiti laws is a misdemeanor. Offenders can be punished with community service in addition to regular punishments for misdemeanor crimes.

Individuals who are convicted of vandalism face up to a year in jail or prison and a fine of up to $50,000 depending on the value of the property that has been damaged. Some defendants may face enhanced penalties if the vandalism involved a hate crime or damage to a structure owned by a religious organization, including cemeteries.

An attorney experienced in criminal defense may be able to help someone who has been accused of property crimes such as vandalism. An attorney might be able to mitigate the consequences of vandalism charges and help defendants obtain a lesser sentence. For example, legal counsel could help some clients beat charges by raising an affirmative defense or reasonable doubt about the state’s case.

Criminal defense