In California, Penal Code 594 defines vandalism as maliciously damaging or destroying property belonging to another person, or defacing it with graffiti or other inscribed material. Someone acts maliciously when a person intentionally does a wrongful act, or when an individual acts with the unlawful intent to annoy or injure someone else. For the purposed of this offense, the defacement does not need to be permanent. Graffiti or other inscribed material includes an unauthorized inscription, word, figure, mark, or design that is written, marked, etched, scratched, drawn, or painted on real or personal property.
If the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction is less than $400, vandalism is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by a fine of not more than $1,000. However, if the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction is over $400, vandalism may be punishable by imprisonment in the state prison and by a fine of $10,000. The punishment for a felony conviction of vandalism may be increased if the crime was done for the benefit of or at the direction of any criminal street gang. In such situation, the person may be punished by imprisonment in state prison for additional two, three, or four years.
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