Is graffiti illegal?
It is possible to create graffiti legally. For example, if it is on private property and you have the consent of the owner or it is a space designated as legal graffiti space. Check with your local council about these spaces.
However, it is against the law to intentionally damage property in a public place by spraying, writing, drawing, marking, scratching or etching any part of a building, wall or vehicle, unless you have permission.
What about possessing a graffiti tool?
It is also against the law to have in your possession any graffiti tool that has been used for graffiti or that the police reasonably suspect was or will be used for graffiti. This includes spray paint or spray can, anything used to make an etching.
What happens if the Police catch you?
The police may:
a) Give you a caution;
b) Refer you to a youth justice conference;
c) Charge you with an offence.
Can the Police stop you and take your spray paint or graffiti tool?
If the police catch you with something that either they think you are going to use for graffiti, they must first give you a chance to explain why you have it. If they reasonably suspect it is evidence of a crime, the police can take the spray paint or graffiti tool as evidence.
If I am guilty of a graffiti offence, what are the penalties?
If you are under the age of 10 you cannot be charged with an offence.
If you are found guilty, then depending on the case a court can:
a) Issue a notice of caution;
c) Order you to pay compensation for the cost of repairing the damage you have caused;
d) Require you to perform community service work such as cleaning up the graffiti;
e) Require you to attend Youth Justice Conferencing;
f) Fine you. The amount of the fine will depend on the circumstances;
g) Send you to prison. This will be a last resort.
Can I buy spray paint?
If you are under 18, it is against the law for anyone to sell a spray can to you. If they do, they may face a fine. A shop assistant can ask you for identification to prove you are over 18 if you want to buy spray paint. If you cannot produce identification the shop assistant may refuse to sell you spray paint.
The police can confiscate the spray paint if you are under 18 and if the police reasonably believe it is evidence that someone has broken the law by selling it to you.
This information was last updated 22 July 2010.