A prankster changed the world-famous Hollywood sign in Los Angeles over the New Year’s holiday weekend, perhaps in a show of support for California’s new law on recreational use of marijuana. According to a CNN report, two letters were altered so that the sign would read “Hollyweed,” sometime early on Sunday, January 2, 2017. The incident is being called a crime of vandalism, and charges may apply if the perpetrator is caught.
Minor Damage to the Sign: Authorities say the vandal – most likely a man – used darkly colored tarps to change the two O’s in the sign into E’s. A spokesperson for the city district that includes the Hollywood sign vowed to have the symbol returned to its intended state as soon as possible, and instructed park rangers to take down the drapes right away. The altered sign was visible until approximately 11 a.m., when officials removed the tarps and returned the spelling to “Hollywood.”
A woman speaking on behalf of the Hollywood Sign Trust said that the sign had been vandalized to read “Hollyweed” before, with the last incident occurring in 1976. Pranksters have altered the sign several times since it was erected in 1923.
Crime was Caught on Camera
Officials have some information on the vandal because he was caught on a security camera sometime between midnight and 2 a.m. Due to weather conditions, police were unable to provide a physical description. The site does maintain sensors that trigger a security alarm, but they are spread out sporadically over different letters. It’s possible for a person to avoid setting off the alarm. A road behind the sign provides access to the immediate area by foot or vehicle.
The Perpetrator May Face Fines or Jail Time
The punishment for vandalism in California depends upon the amount of damage caused by the crime. Fortunately, the Hollywood sign was relatively easy to fix: Authorities simply removed the tarps covering portions of the two O’s. However, for vandalism crimes with a value of less than $400, the perpetrator still faces misdemeanor charges. He could receive a jail sentence up to one year and be ordered to pay a fine up to $1,000.
If the perpetrator has a prior criminal conviction for vandalism, the potential fines increase for a subsequent offense. A judge could order a fine up to $5,000. However, the possible prison term remains the same, with a maximum jail sentence of one year.
San Diego Criminal Defense
Los Angeles residents and visitors probably got a chuckle out of the alteration to the iconic Hollywood sign, but vandalism is no laughing matter if you’re charged with the crime in San Diego. Depending on the value of the damage and your prior criminal record, you could be looking at fines and jail time. By retaining a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, it may be possible to reduce or avoid harsh punishment. An experienced lawyer will represent your interests in court and fight for your legal rights. Please contact a qualified criminal lawyer in San Diego to discuss the specifics of your case and options for your defense.