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Calfiornia graffiti: What is it and what are the penalties?

Vandalism, particularly graffiti, is a fairly serious concern in California. While those responsible for tagging property may feel it is a form of artistic expression, or just something fun to do, the damage to property can be expensive to repair. As such, there are strict laws regarding graffiti in hopes of deterring such behavior.

Graffiti is a form of vandalism that is believed to be carried out primarily by juveniles. These young individuals do not tend to think about the cost of repair when leaving their marks on others' properties. Those who are found responsible for such activities may be held financial responsible. Unfortunately, as the damages can be significant, parents or guardians of these teens may actually be the ones ordered to pay.

What exactly is graffiti and what are the potential penalties for committing such a crime? Graffiti is basically defined as the unauthorized marking of public or private property. This can be words, pictures or designs that are painted, drawn or otherwise attached to the the surface of the property. Youth who are found legally responsible for vandalizing property may face time in a detention center, be ordered to community service and/or be required to pay fines. Parents or guardians may also be held responsible for up to $25,000 in property damages.

California youth who are accused of graffiti or other forms of vandalism are likely to face charges in juvenile court. Seeking the help of counsel before heading to court, or even requesting legal representation be present, may be wise. Youth and their parents or guardians stand to lose quite a bit if they are found responsible for taking part in vandalizing property. With legal assistance, these individuals can fight any criminal accusations and seek for case dismissals, or seek to minimize any potential consequences.

Source:, "San Diego Municipal Code -- Article 4: Public Hazards and Public Nuisances, Division 4: Graffiti Abatement", Accessed on Oct. 11, 2015

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Former Criminal Prosecutor With Proven Results