At least two dozen vehicles that were vandalized in Calabasas had their tires slashed and were spray painted. The suspect or suspects are currently being sought by police.

According to reports, it all began when law enforcement received reports of about 15 vehicles being vandalized at an Audi dealership on Calabasas Road Tuesday, December 17th. Upon further investigation, authorities discovered that some vehicles in the surrounding area had also been vandalized. Vehicles were spray painted with several different words and symbols, including the numbers 999 and 666.

Vandalism is covered under California Penal Code 594 PC and is described as maliciously defacing with grafitti, damaging, or destroying someone else’s property. Under California Law, to “act maliciously” is to intentionally do a wrongful act, or act with the unlawful intent to annoy or injure someone else.

One does not necessarily have to intend to break the law to be charged with vandalism. However, a prosecutor must be able to prove that the defendant acted maliciously for a vandalism charge to stick.

For example, if a person is spray-painting something in their driveway and the wind blows some of the paint onto their neighbor’s vehicle, the person doing the painting likely won’t be charged with vandalism because the defacing of their neighbor’s vehicle wasn’t intentional and therefore not malicious. However, the defendant will still likely be responsible for paying for any damage that was done – accidental or not.

Vandalism is a “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history. One of the largest determinants is the value of the damage done during the alleged crime. If the value of the damage done is less than $400, the crime will probably be charged as a misdemeanor with the potential penalties including up to 1 year in county jail, a maximum fine of $1,000 or up to $5000 if the defendant has a prior vandalism conviction, and informal probation.

If the damage is valued at $400 or greater, then it’s possible that the crime will be charged as a felony. If so, the possible penalties include probation with up to 1 year in county jail, or a jail sentence of 16 months to 3 years. Additionally, a maximum fine of $10,000 or $50,000 if the amount of damage is $10,000 or more, and/or the same probation conditions as misdemeanor vandalism