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.