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What Is Graffiti?

Graffiti is the act of scratching, etching, painting, or other form of writing/drawing on the surface of someone else’s property. It is often associated with tagging.

Graffiti Laws

Graffiti laws differ in each jurisdiction. For example, some states have comprehensive graffiti programs that include education and community involvement as prevention, as well as traditional punishments. Other jurisdictions place graffiti under the umbrella of vandalism laws.

The punishments for graffiti also differ in each jurisdiction and can include a fine, jail time, community service, and alternative punishments based on the situation. However, in almost all cases the defendant must pay or work to fix the property damage associated with the graffiti. If the defendant is under a certain age, the judge may use sentencing options for juveniles. Additionally, there may be different penalties for gang-related graffiti.

Some jurisdictions also have "responsible retailer" laws that require storeowners to keep graffiti tools in places where they are less likely to be stolen. For example, in some places spray cans and wide-tip markers must be displayed only in places visible to employees at all times.

Mural Projects

Some cities and property owners have sanctioned artists to create murals in order to keep graffiti off of their walls. Artists must have permission from the building owner and in many places the city in order to create a mural on someone else’s building.

Do I Need an Attorney?

If you or someone you know has been arrested for graffiti, then you will likely want to hire a criminal defense attorney to defend you. A lawyer will be able to explain all of your options and create a strategy for your defense.

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Last Modified: 11-13-2013 11:48 AM PST

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