No matter what your political affiliation in the upcoming presidential election, it’s still illegal to vandalize property that doesn’t belong to you. The point was demonstrated in a matter involving Republican candidate Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as reported by Los Angeles’ ABC 7 Eyewitness News. The vandalism damage was severe, as the words were almost completely etched and the iconic brass medallion is missing. Surprisingly, the police investigation was brief and a suspect was already in custody on charges of felony vandalism as of October 25, 2016.
Police Respond to an Unusual Call: Officials received a call that someone was threatening to damage Trump’s star and headed to the Walk of Fame attraction to apprehend the perpetrator. However, the damage had already been done and the star was completely destroyed upon their arrival.
Apparently, a man dressed in construction gear was setting up equipment around Trump’s star early on the morning of October 25. He took a sledgehammer and pickaxe to the emblem, but escaped suspicion because of his attire. The man even conducted a video interview regarding his conduct and why he was engaging in an act of vandalism. He reported being upset by various aspects of the GOP presidential candidate and decided to take action, with the intent to eventually sell the brass star and donate the proceeds to charity.
Felony Vandalism Charges on California Property
Fortunately for police, their investigation into finding a suspect was brief, as the man turned himself in for the vandalism crime. He was arrested and booked at Los Angeles Police Department headquarters two days after the incident. Vandalism is a “wobbler” crime in California, which means that it can be prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances. The prosecuting attorney has discretion to charge a felony if there is more than $400 in damages.
In the current case, the damage exceeded that amount and the accused is facing felony vandalism charges. If convicted, a defendant in such a case may be sentenced up to one year in prison and a maximum fine of $50,000, plus restitution to compensate the owners of the property that was destroyed.
Repairs to the Star Underway: Even before the suspect turned himself in to authorities, repairs were underway on the star of Donald Trump. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, the body that maintains the Walk of Fame, stated that the brass lettering had been re-set a few hours after the vandalism occurred. The terrazzo components were replaced and will take time to season, but the star will be polished and look brand new in a matter of days.
San Diego Criminal Lawyers at Ozols Law Firm Can Help
While this vandalism case is currently being treated as a felony, there is a great amount of uncertainty with such “wobbler” cases in California. Whether you’re charged with a felony or misdemeanor depends upon the facts of the case, so you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to present the right evidence. A qualified attorney can fight for your rights and argue defenses, potentially resulting in reduced charges and lesser criminal penalties. If you’ve been charged with misdemeanor or felony vandalism, please contact a San Diego criminal lawyer to discuss your options.
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