Living Torah Center Chabad, a Jewish synagogue in Santa Monica, has experienced its share of anti-semitic acts over the past couple years ranging from a man interrupting a service by yelling, “Heil Hitler” to a letter containing an anti-semitic message left in the synagogue’s mailbox. The most recent incident was discovered by a Rabbi who arrived Christmas morning to the repugnant sight of feces and food smeared across the entrance. Synagogue officials believe the vandalism to be racially motivated and although Santa Monica Police Department has not officially classified the criminal act as a Hate Crime, detectives have not ruled out the possibility as their investigation continues.
In California, the property crime of vandalism is typically prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense under Penal Code statute 594(a) and is described as defacing with graffiti or an inscribed object, damaging, or destroying real or personal property that is not his or her own. However, vandalizing a building owned and occupied by a religious institution primarily used as a place of worship can be charged as felony vandalism under Penal Code 594.3(a), thus increasing the punishment range. In addition, a Hate Crime special circumstance allegation would further enhance sentencing.
Charged or investigated for vandalism?
The consequences and penalties for a vandalism conviction can vary depending on the unique circumstances of your case as the punishment can range from probation and fines to up to 1 year in county jail. Therefore, it is vital that you consult with an experienced Santa Monica vandalism defense lawyer before speaking with police or appearing in court to learn your legal defense options.
Call for a free consultation
The Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at Sitkoff & Hanrahan, LLP possess over three decades of experience defending vandalism charges in Santa Monica. Call us today at (866) 430-8383 for a complimentary case review or to schedule an in-person consultation at our office in West Los Angeles.