East Palo Alto Landlord Arrested for Vandalism (CA Penal Code 594) and Dissuading a Witness (CA Penal Code 136.1)

An East Palo Alto landlord was arrested for vandalism (CA Penal Code 594) on October 21, after the Office of the District Attorney for the county of Santa Clara issued warrants stemming from his alleged destruction of tenant’s property in order to intimidate them and cause them to leave the premises.  It is alleged that the landlord, Nemat Matt Malek Salehi vandalized property belonging to tenants because he hoped they would leave the premises, and he would be able to charge higher rent at the East Palo Alto residential building.

His son, was arrested on the same warrant for dissuading a witness (CA Penal Code 136.1) who was allegedly cooperating with investigators.

Latino LGBT Mural Vandalized in San Francisco (CA Penal Code 594)

The United States Supreme Court may have announced that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states in the nation, but this hasn’t stopped vandals in the Mission District from expressing their view to the contrary.  Three times in as many weeks, a LGBT-themed mural at 24th and Bryant (Galaria de la Raza), a well-known space for artists, has been victimized; this time, it was set on fire.  The mural, a digital print entitled “Por Vida” by Manuel Paul (Maricón Collective, Los Angeles) was installed in the early part of June.  Its soft lines and colorful hues illustrate one transgendered individual, flanked by two sets of male couples.  First, just days after its installation, vandals covered it with blue and red spray paint; second, just a few days later, the new copy of the print was defaced with black spray paint.  Now, after having been replaced a third time, it has been set on fire.  However, surveillance cameras were evidently installed and local law enforcement officials seem to have a good idea who the culprit or culprits were.

California vandalism (CA Penal Code 594) penalties are meted out according to the value of the property destroyed.  In general, destroying, defacing, or damaging any property that is not one’s own could result in charges of vandalism.  If the value of the damaged or destroyed property is under $400, then it will be treated as a misdemeanor.  However, if the value of the damaged or destroyed property is over $400, then the crime becomes a California ‘wobbler,’ meaning that it is up to the prosecutors assigned to the case to determine for themselves whether they will treat a particular case as a misdemeanor or as a felony.  Convictions for misdemeanor vandalism end in rather minor punishments: 1 year in county jail and a $1,000 fine.  Yet, felony vandalism charges could leave the guilty party in jail for up to 3 years and subject to a $10,000 fine.  The value of Paul’s digital print has not been determined.


Facebook Commuter Bus Vandalized in San Francisco (CA Penal Code 594)

Anyone who lives in the area is familiar with the sight of tech corporation commuter buses.  Apple, Google, and, of course, Facebook, send shuttles to areas in which their employees live, ostensibly in order to provide free and convenient transportation as a perk of working for these businesses.  However, these buses are becoming a terrible nuisance, say many Bay area residents.  This past February, protestors at Fairmount Elementary blockaded the area in which three private tech company buses had taken over 4 parking spots previously used by teachers, parents, and other residents.  Now, protestors are saying that tech commuter buses are contributing to the unwanted gentrification of many valued SF neighborhoods.  In this most recent incident, protestors slashed one of the tires of a Facebook bus, while holding signs that said, “F— the Zuck Bus,” pointing to Mark Zuckerberg.  The individual who slashed the single back tire was arrested on charges of vandalism.

While many causes are worthwhile to fight for, it is important to remember what you may be exposing yourself to if you participate in illegal activities during a protest.  For example, destroying, defacing, or damaging someone else’s property is made illegal by California Penal Code 594.  Even very minor incidences of vandalism could end in a lengthy prison sentence and extremely high fines.  It all depends on the value of the property that has been destroyed, defaced, or damaged.

If the property in question is worth less than $400, then it is considered a misdemeanor; such a conviction will likely end in approximately 1 year in county jail and a $1,000 fine.  However, if the property in question is worth more than $400, then penalties become more serious.  In fact, at that level, vandalism is considered a ‘wobbler,’ meaning that prosecutors have the discretion to determine whether they will treat it as a misdemeanor or as a felony.  A felony vandalism conviction could mean up to 3 years in state prison and a $10,000 fine.  Although the value of the Facebook bus’s back tire is uncertain, it is likely worth less than $400.


Vandalism Suspects Filled Dolores Park Sandbox with Broken Glass (CA Penal Code 594)

The city parks of San Francisco, though usually beautiful areas where community members can congregate seem to have one unsolved problem, vandalism.  Recently, for example, Dolores Park has experienced issues with broken glass in its public sandbox.  It is believed that teenagers are breaking into the park late in the evenings (when there is little to no security), drinking beer, and then smashing bottles into the sandbox.  This may seem like a minor issue, though vandalism charges is certainly a crime, but the main headache for park maintenance is the size and amount of shattered glass.  If there were only a few broken bottles, the sand could be sifted and children could return to their play in a short amount of time.  However, when there is shattered glass, park officials say, replacing the sand is the only option, 20 tons of it.

Vandalism, though not often publicized, is considered a serious crime under California law (CA Penal Code 594).  This vandalism law, including graffiti, makes it illegal to purposefully and maliciously destroy, deface, or damage property that belongs to someone else.  Depending on the monetary value of the resources needed to repair or replace the damaged property in question, vandalism can be either a misdemeanor or a ‘wobbler.’  If the property in question was worth more than $400, then prosecutors could treat it either as a misdemeanor or as a felony, adding up to a maximum $10,000 fine and up to 3 years in jail.  If the damage amounts to less than $400, then the vandalism charge will likely be a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in county jail and a $1,000 fine.


San Francisco Homeless Man Arrested for Vandalism (CA Penal Code 594)

Although this news item may have missed your attention up until now, it’s a shocking tale.  This past December, a 69-year-old homeless man was arrested after having thrown a skateboard into the windshield of an Uber Prius.  He was, at that time, charged with vandalism and resisting arrest on the basis of the testimony of the driver of the vehicle in question.  The strange thing is that, as testimony and evidence has since proven, the man was well within his rights to throw the skateboard, it was self-defense.

The events of that early morning occurrence were revealed in court:  the homeless man was jaywalking when the driver of the Prius made a rude gesture; the two met again at another crosswalk, where the Prius driver revved his engine and frightened the man.  At this point, the driver used his cellular phone to record what turned into a chase.  By the time the Prius’s windshield was destroyed, the homeless man had been pursued down various streets and avenues, fearing for his life.  In the end, the car was no more than 30 feet away from the man and he believed the driver, who was now on foot, would accost him.  Even though the man made a phone call to 911, when the police arrived, it was the victim who was arrested and not the man chasing him.

This particular story may not seem important, but if the homeless man, discriminated against because of his appearance, especially against the appearance of the driver of the Prius and because of his social situation could be arrested with little question, then this is an issue for every citizen to be concerned about.  Had the driver not recorded the incident and, thereby, unwittingly corroborated the man’s story, the 69-year-old would have ended up in jail for about a year.  According to California vandalism law (CA Penal Code 594), which forbids destroying, defacing, or damaging property that belongs to another person, could be considered either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the particular circumstances of each individual case.  Normally, penalties range form 1 year to 3 years in county jail and a maximum $10,000 fine.


Santa Cruz Graffiti Artist Arrested for Vandalism (CA Penal Code 594)

Although many people consider graffiti an art form and others deem it a form of expression, to law enforcement officials, ‘tagging’ or creating graffiti is considered vandalism.  Recently, a 21-year-old man (name withheld to protect the accused’s privacy) was arrested by Santa Cruz police officers on charges of felony vandalism.  It seems that the man, a self-identified ‘tagger,’ had tagged the terms “GREB” and/or “BERG” on pieces of so-called public property in the Santa Cruz area.  He is also meant to be linked to tags in Bakersfield, Seattle and other areas along the west coast.

According to California Penal Code 594 (“Vandalism”), it is unlawful to damage, destroy, or deface another person’s property in any way, including public property.  As the severity of vandalism charges are determined by the general value of the property in question, it will be difficult for prosecutors in this case to determine the real value of any city parks, benches, etc. that the man has tagged.  Vandalism becomes a ‘wobbler’ (a crime for which prosecutors must make the determination as to whether they will treat the particular situation as a misdemeanor or as a felony) when the damaged property is valued in excess of $400.  Penalties may include a $10,000 fine and up to 3 years in county jail.

With graffiti, thee are very specific rules (see also CA PC 640.5 and 640.6) .  For example, if the cost of repairing the vandalized object is less than $250, then prosecutors will likely treat it as a misdemeanor.  Depending upon the number of convictions that you already have for vandalism, you will likely spend up to 1 year in county jail, complete some community service hours and pay a $3,000 fine.



Golden Gate Park Vandals Leave Police with No Clues (CA Penal Code 594)

A series of strange and inexplicable events have happened in Golden Gate Park over the last few months.  Several different trees have been seriously damaged, benches have been destroyed, planters in the park have been ruined, and one official park truck has had its windows smashed in.  However, it’s difficult for local law enforcement agents to determine why and, more importantly, who is behind these odd occurrences.  There are park agents who believe that certain parties are responsible for the seemingly pointless vandalism, but they also have no proof to offer.  No video surveillance exists in the park, so the vandals would have to be caught in the act in order to be arrested.

In California, vandalism is considered a serious crime and is defined as the malicious defacement, damage, or destruction of another person’s property (CA Penal Code 594).  However, in most cases it is considered a ‘wobbler,’ meaning that prosecutors may choose to pursue action on either a misdemeanor or felony level.  If convicted of misdemeanor vandalism, you could face up to 1 year in county jail and pay a $1,000 fine.  In fact, a misdemeanor vandalism charge usually results when the value of the property in question is at or less than $400.  A felony vandalism conviction, on the other hand, means that you may be looking at up to 3 years in county jail and a $10,000 fine.

Strange as it may seem to worry about a few trees and potted plants in Golden Gate Park, the recent vandalism there has local law enforcement agents in a furor.  Of course, this is not surprising, considering that this summer pop icon Justin Beiber was nearly charged with felony vandalism when he ‘egged’ one of his neighbor’s houses as part of a childish prank. He pled no contest and received probation on a misdemeanor charge, though he ended up paying over $80,000 in restitution, was forced to attend 12 anger management sessions, and must now remain at least 100 yards away from his neighbor and their family members.


Smart Car Tipping in San Francisco (CA Penal Code 594)

Many folks know by now that the practice of cow tipping is the result of a misguided attempt to make fun of ‘country bumpkins.’  The story depicts gangs of teenagers sneaking up on unsuspecting cows and, well, tipping them over.  Though cow tipping has been proven an urban legend.  However, some San Francisco citizens have become the victim of a crime that does not fall into the category of urban legend, ‘Smart car tipping.’  It’s not an unusual crime, believe it or not.  Smart car tipping has been reported in other cities across the nation and in at least 2 other countries.

On the 200 block of Anderson Street, near Bowdoin and Sweeny, and then again close to Prospect and Coso, several Smart micro cars have been purposefully tipped over onto their sides.  Is this some kind of protest, local law enforcement officials wonder, or is this just a matter of some kids having fun?  According to California law, however, these are acts of vandalism.

According to witnesses, there are at least 7 suspects, who are allegedly responsible for tipping the cars.  (CA Penal Code 594) vandalism and graffiti says that damaging another person’s property is cause for arrest.  If you are convicted of a California vandalism charge, then you may be looking at hefty fines and some even some time in jail.  In fact, fines go up to $10,000 (or more, depending on the amount of the damage) and up to 3 years in jail if the crime is prosecuted as a felony.  If prosecuted as a misdemeanor ($400 or less in damages), then you may be looking at a $1,000 fine and 1 year in county jail.


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.


Elderly Man Accused of Vandalizing Trees in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park (CA Penal Code §594)

When someone says the word “vandalism,” it usually conjures up images of graffiti or the destruction of public property like signs or private property like vehicles.  However, when the public property in question is a tree like the ones in Golden Gate Park, it seems odd to call it “vandalism” when someone alters a living thing – yet, it is.  Under CA Penal Code §594, public parks are included in “damaged property” and 65-year-old Ken Frisch has been accused of having done just this.  He was ticketed near the Chain Lakes and John F. Kennedy Drive for purposefully wrecking park property, taking trees from the park, unauthorized feeding of animals, and changing park paths without permission.

It seems that Frisch has a history with local authorities – he’s been accused in the past of harassment of city administrators.  Now, he is suspected of having participated in snapping the tops off of over 200 young saplings planted by park officials, although police have stated that they believe that others are responsible for this latest rash of tree destruction.  Depending on the value of the trees and on how many of them law enforcement officials can prove were defaced, the culprit or culprits (whether Frisch or others) may be looking at hefty fines and/or time in jail.  If the amount of destruction is over $400, for example, an individual may spend up to 1 year in county jail or a fine of $10,000.