Got a question? Ask Lawmail

Send your questions to Lawmail

Can't find the info you are looking for?Got a problem you can’t solve?

If you're under 25, or an adult asking on behalf of a person under 18, you can send your questions to Lawmail and we will email an answer to you in under 10 days. Urgent matters are dealt with more quickly.

Go to Lawmail. It’s free and confidential.

All donations over $2 are tax deductible.



What is graffiti?

Graffiti is when you make a mark on property that cannot be easily removed by wiping it with a dry cloth. This includes things like marking, writing, and drawing on property with spray paint or any other tool.


Is graffiti illegal?

It depends. Sometimes graffiti can be legal. For example, if you have permission from the owner of the property, or you are doing it as part of your work or education.

Is it illegal to buy spray paint?

No but it is against the law for anyone to sell a spray paint can to a person who is under 18 years old. A person who does this could be fined up to $2800. Because of this a shop assistant may ask you for identification if you want to buy spray paint. If you cannot prove you are over 18 the shop assistant may refuse to sell you the spray paint.

Is it illegal to carry spray paint?

Yes.  It is against the law to carry a spray paint can in a public place, unless you need the spray can for your work, education, or you are participating in an activity or sport where it is legal to do graffiti.

If you are carrying the spray paint can in a public place to do other things that are illegal, then you could be fined up to $2800. A public place includes many places, like schools, parks and train stations. The law even says you are in a public place if you are inside your car which is in a public place. 

In Tasmania, it is not illegal to carry graffiti tools other than spray cans (eg marker pens).


Can I be stopped and searched for graffiti tools?

Yes.  If a police officer reasonably believes you have a spray paint can in a public place and you should not have it, the police can stop and search you or your vehicle. For graffiti tools other than spray paint, the police’s normal powers to search you will apply.  For more information about this, see ‘What powers do the police have’.


Can my spray can or other graffiti tools be confiscated?

A police officer can confiscate any spray cans that they find. For graffiti tools other than spray paint, the normal rules about police confiscations apply.  For more information about this, see ‘What powers do the police have’.


What happens if I’ve been caught carrying a spray can, or making illegal graffiti by the police?

If you are under 18, the police may:

a)       give you an informal caution;

b)       give you a formal caution;

c)       make you do community service, such as removing the graffiti;

d)       make you pay money;

e)       make you attend a Community Conference;

f)        charge you for a graffiti crime. This means you have to go to court.

For more information about warnings, cautions, youth justice conferences and being charged, see our pages Youth Justice System” and “Criminal Law”.


What are the penalties for graffiti crimes?

If you are under 18 and you are charged with an offence and then found guilty, then depending on the case a court can:

a)     make you do community service, such as cleaning up the graffiti;

b)      make you attend a community conference

c)      put you on a good behaviour order;

d)      require you to pay compensation;

f)       give you a fine (the amount of the fine will depend on the circumstances).

For more information about penalties and going to court, see Youth Justice” andCourtstuff.”


You are welcome to copy and use this fact sheet. 

This page was last updated in October 2014.