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Criminal Law Blog NSW

Graffiti Vandalisim is a Criminal Offense

Graffiti vandalism is a criminal offense and is controlled under specific State and Territory criminal legislation with all jurisdictions applying various pieces of legislation to criminalise the act and  interestingly, some pieces of law have a particular focus on public transport, for instance, the Graffiti Prevention Act 2007 (Vic) allows public transport officers to seize graffiti implements from suspected persons, while the Graffiti Control Act 2008 (NSW) imposes large fines or in some instances, imprisonment for graffiti vandalism.

Graffiti is mostly referred to as a wilful act of marking or defacing property without permission. The wilful act without consent is generally an element of what makes it an offence, along with the graffiti being visible to the public on public property.

Urban art, legal or free walls in certain jurisdictions is regarded as the only form of legal graffiti, where councils and communities commission graffiti artists for street art.
What is a graffiti vandalism offence??

A graffiti vandalism offence generally includes the following elements:

  • damaging, marking or defacing property without permission using a graffiti implement;
  • possession of a graffiti implement; and
  • posting bills and other marking offences.

What is a graffiti implement?

Graffiti implements include spray paint, marker pens, acid etchings, shape objects (such as keys, knives or rocks) or any other implement that is not easily removed by water or detergent.

A person does not have to be the one using the graffiti implement to be charged with a graffiti vandalism related offence. Additionally, in some jurisdictions, it’s also an offence to sell spray paint cans to a person under 18 years of age, along with having unsecured paint cans in a retail premises.

What are the penalties for graffiti vandalism offences?

The laws deviate according to the State or Territory but generally, a person commits an offence of graffiti vandalism if they:

  • damage or deface property;
  • possess a graffiti implement with intent;
  • bill posting and other marking offences;
  • sell spray paint cans to persons under the age of 18 in some jurisdictions;
  • have unsecured spray paint cans in retail premises in some jurisdictions.

What the Lw Says - Damaging or defacing property by means of graffiti implement GRAFFITI CONTROL ACT 2008 - SECT 4

(1) A person must not, without reasonable excuse (proof of which lies on the person), intentionally damage or deface any premises or other property by means of any graffiti implement.

Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months.

How is graffiti removed?

Several criminal jurisdictions empower local councils to clear out graffiti on private property without having the owner or occupier’s consent if the graffiti is visible to the public. Removal without consent should be undertaken from public land at the council’s own expense and on the odd occasion, the offender may be ordered to pay for the removal of the graffiti.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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