San Jose’s Moreland Way Neighborhood: Vandals Destroy Lawns (CA Penal Code 594)

No one has any idea why a person, or group of persons unknown, has been poisoning lawns in the Moreland Way neighborhood.  Residents have noticed strange brown streaks appearing randomly on their lawns for at least the past year.  They say that it’s difficult to tell when the herbicide vandalism began, as it takes at least a couple of weeks between application of the substance and green patches of grass turning brown. Surveillance video cameras seem to be of no help either, due to the time lag between the vandalism and the results.

In the state of California, vandalism is considered a serious crime (CA Penal Code 594).  This law prohibits defacing, destroying, or damaging another person’s property with ill intent.  In Moreland Way, the person or persons involved in destroying residents’ lawns may not believe that their actions are more than a funny joke.  However, if they truly believe this, they may find themselves surprised at the penalties for conviction of such a crime.

Vandalism is considered a California ‘wobbler.’  It may be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the monetary amount of the damage.  If the damage amounts to the equivalent of less than $400, then it may be considered a misdemeanor and end in up to 1 year in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.  On the other hand, if this crime is prosecuted as a felony (as it will be because the damage for at least 1 resident totaled over $5,000), then those convicted can expect up to a 1 year sentence in jail and a maximum fine of $50,000.