Graffiti is damaging or making a mark on property, such as buildings, poles or vehicles. It can include spraying, writing, drawing, marking, scratching or etching on any property with a spray can or marker pen.
It is possible to create graffiti legally. For example, if you have permission from the owner or it is a space designated as a legal graffiti space. Check with your local council about these spaces.
However, if you don’t have permission from the property owner or your local council, it is against the law to create graffiti on a person’s property, on public property, or on something that is visible to the public.
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. This means that a shop assistant can ask you for identification to prove you are over 18 if you want to buy spray paint. If you cannot prove you are over 18 with identification, the shop assistant may refuse to sell you spray paint.
Graffiti tools include spray paint cans, or anything used to make an etching, like a pocket knife or a nail.
It is against the law to have any graffiti tool that has been used for illegal graffiti or that the police think was or will be used for illegal graffiti.
Yes, but only if the police reasonably think you have a graffiti tool that has been or will be used for illegal graffiti. If the police think you have a graffiti tool, they may ask you to explain why you have it. If you don’t give a good enough reason, the police may charge you with having a graffiti implement. Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 (Qld) s 634(2)(d), (3).
For more information about police searches, see our page on “What powers do the police have”.
Yes, but only in certain circumstances. Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 (Qld) s 29(2).
If you are under 18 and have a graffiti tool, such as a spray can, the police can take it from you if they have reason to think that you have either used it or are using it for graffiti, or will use it for graffiti.
For all other graffiti tools, the normal rules for police confiscations will apply. For more information, look at our page on “What powers do the police have”.
If you are under 17, the police may:
For more information about being charged by the police and about cautions, see our pages on “Criminal Law” and “Youth Justice System”.
If you are charged for making illegal graffiti or illegally carrying a graffiti tool and you are then found guilty at court, depending on the case, a court can:
If you have been charged and found guilty of a graffiti crime and you were at least 12 years old when the crime was done, the court must make a ‘graffiti removal order’. The number of hours you need to spend removing the graffiti will depend on your age.
For more information about these penalties and what happens at court see our web pages on “Youth Justice System” and “Courtstuff.”
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