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You Ask, Patch Answers: Graffiti Penalty

Find out what the punishment is for those who deface public property.

We’re all a little curious.

Driving through town one morning, you may wonder if that vacant building you pass will ever be occupied, why there’s no stoplight at a certain busy intersection, how long it takes to complete a road project or one of a million other questions about your town.

That’s where Los Gatos Patch comes in. With our new feature, “You Ask ... Patch Answers,” we will strive to find the answer to all your questions—big, small and in-between—about the town we live and work in. Whether it’s something you’ve always wondered about, some information you just can’t put your hands on or a sudden curiosity, we want to hear it.

Send your queries to or leave them in the comments section below, and I will do my best to dig up an answer for you. You also can call me at 408-391-8725.

This week, a reader asked what's the punishment for graffiti in light of the recent Patch Watch feature spotlighting the damage done to the children's artwork at the Forbes Mill foot bridge.

said defacing public property is considered misdemeanor vandalism (value of less than $400): with a punishment of up to a year in county Jail, a fine of $1000-5000 and probation time.

Felony vandalism (value of $400 or more) has a punishment of up to a year in county jail, or 16 months, two or three years in state prison and a fine of between $10,000 and $50,000.

There are statutes for vandalizing a place of worship, which generally makes it an automatic wobbler (may be filed as either a felony or misdemeanor), Harris said. If the nature of the vandalism qualifies as a hate crime, it is an automatic felony, he explained.

Serial vandals, such as taggers who mark many sites with their tags, the value is based on the cumulative cost to repair the damage, i.e. a tagger who marks 100 bus benches, and it costs $50 each to clean up the tags, the value of the vandalism may be counted as $5,000, and as such, a felony, he said.

Thank you Sgt. Harris for helping us answer our reader's question.

Sandra Vaurs March 25, 2012 at 06:31 PM
My question is if there are any plans in the works to straighten out the intersection at Shannon and Los Gatos Blvd. Now that the property on the NE corner there is vacant, it would be an opportune time to realign Shannon so the intersection is less convoluted.
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) April 01, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Hi Sandra, will try and get you an answer sooner than next Sunday. Thanks!

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