Understanding Graffiti Vandalism as a Crime in Australia
Graffiti, also known as tagging, is not always a piece of art as most people take it. According to Australian law, it can also be a form of vandalism and a crime that’s punishable by law. In fact, defacing property with graffiti is categorised as anti-social behaviour unless the property owner authorises it.
The rise of graffiti vandals across Australia has prompted authorities to legislate laws to curb the problem. This includes putting up harsh penalties for already painted graffiti and those intending to do graffiti. Today, being found in possession of graffiti implements is a crime in Australia.
Graffiti As A Crime
Graffiti as a crime is covered by the Graffiti Vandalism Act of 2016, which came into effect on 12 October 2016. The Act put graffiti as a crime and created new offences and penalties for graffiti damages, which were consolidated with previous graffiti offences.
Sections 5, 6 and 7 of the Graffiti Act stipulates when you can be charged with graffiti vandalism crime. This means you will need legal advice to put up a defence when charged. In section 5 of this Act, if you deface or damage another person property by graffiti without their consent, you have committed a crime.
In section 6, if you are in possession of graffiti implements, the law assumes that you intend to apply graffiti, and thus you have already committed a crime. You need to prove the contrary for the charges to be dropped. Otherwise, you will have to pay hefty fines. In section 7, you will be charged with graffiti crime if you are found selling graffiti implements to a child.
These are these three instances when you are deemed to have committed a graffiti offence. In each of the three cases, you will need to put up a defence to prove the contrary, or you will be found guilty as charged.
As described, there are three major scenarios when you are deemed to have committed a graffiti offence. All three instances attract different penalties, depending on the damages, age of the offender, and times one has been charged for the same crime.
If you are charged under section 5 of the Graffiti Vandalism Act of 2016 and found guilty, the maximum penalty is a $24,000 fine and a 2-year jail term. There is a minimum penalty, mostly for first-time offenders, which is a community-based order.
If found guilty under section 6 of the Graffiti Act, the penalty is $6,000. If you are guilty of selling graffiti implements to children (under section 7), the penalty is $6,000. But if it is a subsequent offence, the fine is doubled to $12,000, and sometimes the prosecutor may recommend a jail term.
If charged under the Graffiti Vandalism Act of 2016, the best thing you can do is seeking legal advice. With a criminal defence lawyer, you might get a favourable punishment. If you are 18 and below years and a first-time offender, your lawyer can bargain for a graffiti removal program, which is friendlier. If you are in need of a defence lawyer, our experienced team at Bouchier Khan Lawyers is ready to assist and advise you.