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Graffiti

It's against the law to destroy or cause damage to someone else’s property without their consent. If you cause damage to someone else’s property by scratching, writing, spray painting, marking, etching, drawing or using any other marking substance on the property where the damage can be seen by the public, this is a graffiti offence. A graffiti offence also includes possessing instruments being used for graffiti.

Queensland has specific laws to deal with graffiti offences. There are serious penalties for committing a graffiti offence. You should get legal advice if you are charged with a graffiti offence.

Police diversion for young people

If you are under 17 and you commit a graffiti offence, the police may offer to refer you into the Graffiti Removal Program instead of sending you to court. The Graffiti Removal Program is a program where offenders carry out unpaid work removing graffiti.

A police officer can offer to refer you into the Graffiti Removal Program if:

  • you are at least 12 years old, and
  • you admit to committing a graffiti offence during a recorded police interview.

In order to be referred to the Graffiti Removal Program, you have to agree in writing to be sent to the program. If you agree to the Graffiti Removal Program, anything you used to commit the graffiti offence will be kept or destroyed by the police.

The Graffiti Removal Program is arranged by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General and will be for a two hour period.

If you fail to attend and complete the Graffiti Removal Program, the police can take further action, such as sending you to court for the graffiti offence and/or charge you with a further offence of failing to comply with a police direction.

Graffiti removal orders

What is a graffiti removal order?

If you are convicted by a court of a graffiti offence and you were 12 or older at the time you committed the offence, the court must make a graffiti removal order. If you do not think you have the physical or mental capacity to comply with this type of order, you should get legal advice as soon as possible.

A graffiti removal order is an order that you carry out unpaid work removing graffiti.

In addition to making a graffiti removal order, the court may also impose other penalties or sentences for the offence. See Possible penalties and sentences.

How many hours of graffiti removal work will I have to do?

The order will set out how many hours you will be required to carry out unpaid work removing graffiti. There is a limit to how many hours you can be ordered to carry out graffiti removal work, even if you are convicted of more than one offence and have been given more than one order.

The maximum amount of hours you can be ordered to carry out graffiti removal work is:

  • if you are 12 years old – 5 hours
  • if you are 13 or 14 years old – 10 hours
  • if you are 15 or 16 years old – 20 hours
  • if you are 17 or older – 40 hours.

The court will consider your age, maturity and ability when deciding how many hours of graffiti removal work to order you to do.

Generally, the court can order up to 12 months from the date you are sentenced to complete all your graffiti removal work hours, unless the court orders that it must be completed in a shorter period of time.

If you are sentenced to a period of detention or imprisonment as well as, or during the time you are under a graffiti removal order, you will have to complete the graffiti removal work when you are released.

Are there any other requirements of a graffiti removal order?

You must also comply with other conditions of the order. You must:

  • report to your caseworker or corrective services officer within the time set out in the order
  • carry out the graffiti removal work satisfactorily as directed by the corrective services officer
  • tell your caseworker or corrective services officer within 2 days if you change address
  • not leave the state of Queensland without the approval of your caseworker or corrective services officer
  • not break the law during the period of the graffiti removal order
  • report to and receive visits from, and follow every reasonable direction of your caseworker or corrective services officer.

If you are unable to meet the conditions of the graffiti removal order, you should get legal advice.

Forfeiture of property in relation to a graffiti offence

It is unlawful to possess a ‘graffiti instrument’. A graffiti instrument is an item that is:

  1. reasonably suspected of having been used for graffiti; or
  2. is being used for graffiti; or
  3. is reasonably suspected of being about to be used for graffiti.   

If you are convicted of possessing a graffiti instrument and you used a device such as a camera, mobile phone or computer to record or distribute video or photos of the graffiti, the court can order that the instrument or device is forfeited to the state when you are sentenced.

This means that if you took a photo of your graffiti and sent it to your friends with your mobile phone, then your mobile phone may be taken and kept or destroyed by the state if you are found guilty of the graffiti offence.

You should get legal advice.

Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if you:

  • have been charged with a graffiti offence
  • are on a graffiti removal order and you did not meet the conditions of the order
  • are considering agreeing to police diversion for a graffiti offence
  • have any questions about your sentence or what the court may do.

Where can I get legal advice

Legal Aid Queensland may give legal advice about graffiti offences.

Legal Aid Queensland cannot provide you with a lawyer to attend a police interview.

The following organisations may also be able to provide you with legal advice.

Community legal centres may give free preliminary legal advice and information on some criminal law matters. Most CLCs do not provide legal representation. Check with your closest CLC whether they can assist with your matter.

Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor who can provide advice and representation.

Important: Before seeking legal advice about a criminal charge, you should collect your QP9 from the police prosecutor at your first court date. If you were unable to collect it at your first court date, you should apply to the police/prosecutions office for your QP9. You will need to present photo identification and a written request to the police prosecutor. Contact your local police station if you are unsure where to apply.

These organisations may also be able to help with your matter. They do not provide legal advice.

Department of Justice and Attorney-General provide information about going to court to help defendants and witnesses.

Queensland Courts website has information on all courts in Queensland including magistrates courts and Childrens Court of Queensland.

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