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

Rabin Nabizadeh
February 24, 2015

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.

 

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