Vandalism is a criminal act involving willful and deliberate destruction of public or private property. Many acts of vandalism in Sacramento are misdemeanours. However, vandalism that results in serious damage to valuable property is a felony. Some of the most common forms of vandalism include egg throwing, breaking windows, graffiti, ransacking a property, tagging, flooding, tire-slashing, and cutting trees without permission.
California laws ban selling or otherwise providing a minor with any etching cream or aerosol container of paint capable of defacing property without first obtaining evidence of majority and identity.
Purchase or possession of etching creams or aerosol containers of paint by a minor is also prohibited in the state.
The laws also exclusively prohibit the possession of a carbide drill bit, chisel, carbide scribe, an aerosol paint can, awl, grinding stone, felt tip marker, or any other marking substance with the intent to commit graffiti.
Parking lots, schools and private property are among the most targeted areas by vandals. Experts consider that vandalism a social problem resulting from lack of parental discipline.
A person who commits acts of vandalism may be sued in a civil tort action for damages so that the damaged property can be repaired or replaced, as defined by Section 811.2 of the Government Code.
Vandalism in Sacramento are punished depending on the value of the property damage as defined in the California Penal Code as follows;
- Damage of less than $400 is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail of up to a year, by a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
- Damage of less than $400, where the defendant has a prior vandalism conviction, is punishable with imprisonment in the county jail for up to a year, by a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
- Damage of $400-$10,000 is punishable with a jail or prison term of up to a year or a fine of up to $10,000.
- Damage of $10,000 or more is punishable with a fine of up to $50,000 or by both a fine and imprisonment in a county jail or prison for up to a year.
- Where the defendant is a minor, in addition to payment of fines, an order is given for his/her parents and guardians to clean repair, or replace damaged property personally and keep it free of graffiti for up to a year.
Enhanced penalties are given to offenders in serious cases of vandalism. These include;
- Vandalism to churches and buildings owned and occupied by a religious institution.
- Hate crime-related vandalism committed with the intention of intimidating and deterring a person from the free exercise of their religious beliefs
- Use of butyric acid or other noxious or caustic chemicals.