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What is graffiti?

Graffiti is damaging or making a mark on property, such as buildings, poles or vehicles. It can include writing, marking, drawing, spraying, etching or scratching on any property with a spray can or marker pen.

Is graffiti illegal?

Generally, graffiti is against the law, with penalties being a fine of $24,000 and imprisonment for 2 years. However, there are ways to create graffiti legally, for example, if you have the consent of the owner or it is a space designated as a legal graffiti space.  Check with your local council about these spaces.

If you don’t have the permission of the owner or your local council, it is against the law to create graffiti on a person’s property or public property, or on something that is visible to the public and is considered to be unsightly or offensive by the local government and does not remove the graffiti when given notice to.   

What is a graffiti implement?

A graffiti implement is spray paint or certain marker pens, including permanent markers with a tip over 6mm wide.

Can I buy a graffiti implement?

If you are under 18, it is against the law for someone to sell you a graffiti implement. If you want to buy a graffiti implement, the shop assistant can ask you for photo identification to prove you are over 18. If you cannot prove you are over 18, the shop assistant may refuse to sell you the graffiti tool.

Can I carry a graffiti implement?

It is against the law for you to be carrying anything that you could use to make illegal graffiti with the intent of doing so. This could be a marker pen or spray paint, but could also be things like a pocket knife or a nail.

Can I be stopped and searched for graffiti tools?

Yes, but only in certain circumstances. For example, if the police think that you are carrying something that is related to illegal graffiti (such as spray cans or thick permanent markers), they may search you. For more information about Police searches see our page on “What powers do the police have”.

Can the police confiscate something they think I will use to make graffiti?

Yes. The police may take your spray paint, marker pen or other tool if they think you have used it, or will use it, to do illegal graffiti.

What happens if I’ve been caught by the police doing illegal graffiti or illegally carrying a graffiti tool?

Depending on the circumstances and exactly what you’ve been charged with, if you are under 18 the police may:

  • Give you a caution;
  • Confiscate the graffiti tool;
  • Charge you. This means you will have to go to court.

For more information about warnings, cautions, youth justice conferences and being charged with an offence, see our web pages on “Youth Justice” and “Criminal Law”.

What are the penalties for graffiti crimes?

If you are under 18 and are charged and found guilty of making illegal graffiti or illegally carrying a graffiti tool, then depending on the case, a court can:

  • Put you on a good behaviour bond for up to 12 months;
  • Make a responsible adult give security money and promise to make sure that you won’t commit another offence for one year;
  • Give you a community work order, which may include making you remove the graffiti;
  • Order you to remove the graffiti to restore it to the state it was in before the offence;
  • Order you to pay for the cost of the graffiti removal;
  • Give you a fine.  The amount of the fine will depend on the circumstances. You will only be given a fine if you (or your parent/guardian) can afford to pay it.

You may also be given a combination of punishments – such as a fine and a community work order.

For more information about these penalties, see “Youth Justice System”. For more information about going to court, see our page on “Court stuff”.Last reviewed 13 July 2017

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