What am I looking at when being charged with felony vandalism?

Can I get out of it (by paying fines, community service, counseling, etc.)? Initially was not charged with felony vandalism. I was blacked out and when put in the car, I tried kicking the door out. I woke up in jail wondering what happened. They showed me the vehicle and told me it probably a good time to quit drinking.

Asked on November 19, 2015 under Criminal Law, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

When the value of the damage is $400 or more, the complaint is filed as a felony. However, it is possible to resolve cases as misdemeanor vandalism when the value of the damage is over $400 and defendant has no prior record.  When the value of the damage is less than $400, the complaint is for a misdemeanor violation.
If someone is convicted of felony vandaliam, the maximum prison sentence is 3 years and the fines can go up to $10,000. A judge may also suspend the person's driver’s license for up to 2 years (if the person does not yet have a driver’s license the court may delay their eligibility for up to 3 years). If probation is granted, the court can order the defendant to counseling services and community service.  If the conviction is for a misdemeanor violation, the maximum jail time is 1 year. The maximum fine is $1,000 if the damage to the property is less than $400; when the damage to the property is $400 or more, the maximum fine is $10,000. The judge can also order the defendant to community service and classes, and impose the same driver’s license penalties as described above. 
Since so much is at stake here, you really need to consult directly wth a criminal law attorney in the area of where the incident ocurred. An experienced lawyer may get the charge dismissed on a technicality, get it reduced (a liklihood in your case given your first offender status) or win an acquittal at trial.

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