Our Video and Blog post below gives an explanation of the offence of graffiti and the relevant penalties.
If you are caught marking property or you are found with graffiti implements in your possession, you face the possibility of a criminal conviction, and a fine or a potential prison sentence.
There are also a number of additional offences which are identified by the Graffiti Control Act. Being found guilty of these can also lead to a criminal conviction and further penalties.
What is graffiti according to the law?
Graffiti is the act of marking any space with a marker, spray paint or any other substance which can’t be easily removed with water or detergent.
Graffiti is only illegal if it’s done without the permission of the owner, and the place that is marked isn’t a legal graffiti space.
If you intentionally damage the space by marking it and you don’t have the permission of the owner, you can be charged with a criminal offence.
What are the main graffiti offences?
People who are charged with graffiti-related offences are usually charged either under the Graffiti Control Act, or charged with property damage under the Summary Offences Act.
Specific graffiti-related offences under the Graffiti Control Act include:
- Defacing or damaging property by using a graffiti implement.
- Possession of a graffiti implement.
- Posting bills in a public place or marking any building or premises with chalk or paint without the permission of the owner.
It is also an offence to sell or supply spray paint cans to anyone under the age of 18.
What are the penalties for graffiti offences?
The most common penalty for a graffiti offence under the Graffiti Control Act is a fine.
The maximum fine for marking property is $440, unless there are aggravating circumstances, in which case the maximum fine increases to $2,200.
The maximum fine for possession of a graffiti implement is $1,100, and for posting bills the maximum you can be fined is $440.
There is also a maximum penalty of 12 months’ imprisonment if it’s not your first offence.
Other penalties you may receive for these offences include a Section 10 dismissal, a community service order, and a good behaviour bond.
The court can also make a driver licence order, where they take points from your driving licence or extend your learner or provisional licence period.
If you are found in possession of spray cans or other implements, and police have reason to believe that you are planning to use them for graffiti-related purposes, they can confiscate the items.
What is a community clean-up order?
In some cases, the court may impose a clean-up order as an alternative to having to pay a fine.
This means that you will have the option of performing community service work removing graffiti to pay off your fine.
The number of hours you will be required to work will depend on the amount of your fine.
Community clean-up orders can be made as an alternative to full payment of a fine or part payment, but if the fine has been paid in full, you can’t be subject to a community clean-up order.
To be eligible for a community clean-up order, you will need to be considered ‘suitable’, there needs to be work available in your local community, and you need to be willing to take part in the work.
You may also be required to participate in a two-hour graffiti prevention program as one of the conditions.
If you are facing charges for a graffiti-related crime, make sure you speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.
Expert legal advice from an experienced criminal lawyer can help you avoid a criminal conviction, and ensure you get the best possible outcome in your case.