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 in South Australia create graffiti on any property (unless you have permission). It is also against the law to help, assist or encourage someone else to do graffiti. The penalty for helping or encouraging someone else to do graffiti is the same as the penalty for actually doing it yourself.
It is also illegal to write, draw, paint or put a poster up on public transport in the Adelaide area (usually run by Adelaide Metro) and its premises (such as a train station or bus stop).
What about possessing a graffiti tool?
It is against the law to have in your possession any graffiti tools with the intention to use it to do graffiti.
It is also illegal to be carrying a spray paint can or a tool that can make a permanent mark and is more than 15mm wide, if you are carrying it in a public place or on a private property if you are trespassing. It is not illegal to be carrying these items if you can prove that you have a legal reason, such as you need it for your job.
What happens if the Police catch you writing Graffiti?
If you are under the age of 10 you cannot be charged with an offence.
If you are between the age of 10 and 18, the police may:
a) Give you an informal caution;
b) Issue a formal caution;
c) Require you to do community service or pay compensation;
d) Require you to attend Family Conferences;
e) Charge you with an offence.
Can the Police stop you and take your spray paint?
A police officer may stop, search and detain you if they reasonably suspect you illegally possess a graffiti tool.
If I am guilty of a graffiti offence, what are the penalties?
If you are found guilty of a graffiti offence, then depending on the case a court can:
a) Require you to clean up the graffiti;
b) Require you to pay compensation to the person whose property you did the graffiti on;
c) Give you a fine. The amount of the fine will depend on the circumstances;
d) Send you to prison for up to 6 months;
For more information about types of orders the Court can make, see Children’s Court.
Can I buy spray paint?
If you are under 18, it is against the law for anyone to sell a spray paint can to you. The seller may be fined up to $1,250. This means that a shop assistant can ask you for ID to prove you are over 18 if you want to buy spray paint.
This information was last updated 22 July 2010.