The city parks of San Francisco, though usually beautiful areas where community members can congregate seem to have one unsolved problem, vandalism. Recently, for example, Dolores Park has experienced issues with broken glass in its public sandbox. It is believed that teenagers are breaking into the park late in the evenings (when there is little to no security), drinking beer, and then smashing bottles into the sandbox. This may seem like a minor issue, though vandalism charges is certainly a crime, but the main headache for park maintenance is the size and amount of shattered glass. If there were only a few broken bottles, the sand could be sifted and children could return to their play in a short amount of time. However, when there is shattered glass, park officials say, replacing the sand is the only option, 20 tons of it.
Vandalism, though not often publicized, is considered a serious crime under California law (CA Penal Code 594). This vandalism law, including graffiti, makes it illegal to purposefully and maliciously destroy, deface, or damage property that belongs to someone else. Depending on the monetary value of the resources needed to repair or replace the damaged property in question, vandalism can be either a misdemeanor or a ‘wobbler.’ If the property in question was worth more than $400, then prosecutors could treat it either as a misdemeanor or as a felony, adding up to a maximum $10,000 fine and up to 3 years in jail. If the damage amounts to less than $400, then the vandalism charge will likely be a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in county jail and a $1,000 fine.
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