It is 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.
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.
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.
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:
- reasonably suspected of having been used for graffiti; or
- is being used for graffiti; or
- 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.
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