Graffiti Classification And Penalties
Graffiti is a form of vandalism under law, regardless of the artistic merit of the end result. The unauthorized use of writing, spraying, affixing, or inscribing another person’s property is a criminal offense (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-107). The victim of the crime in these cases is the owner of the property that was defaced. Depending on the amount of property damage costs, graffiti is considered a misdemeanor or felony offense. This classification includes:
- 2nd degree felony if the damage caused is greater than $5,000
- 3rd degree felony if the damage caused is greater than $1000
- Class A misdemeanor if the damage caused is $300 or more
- Class B misdemeanor if the damage caused is less than $300
Note that damages refer to the costs for removal, repair or replacement, whichever is less. The court is responsible for determining the damage costs, which are to be repaid by the violator. If the graffiti is located on an overpass or underpass and requires traffic interference to remove, then the person responsible for cleanup in the area provides assistance for a safe graffiti removal.
Unlike many other criminal offenses, a graffiti conviction can bring non-traditional penalties. If convicted, the court may order the individual to clean up the graffiti they created or even other graffiti. Specific sentencing guidelines include:
- First Time Conviction or Adjudication – Graffiti removal for at least 8 hours.
- Second Conviction or Adjudication – Graffiti removal for at least 16 hours
- Third Conviction or Adjudication – Graffiti cleanup for at least 24 hours
Those convicted of graffiti offenses are responsible for removal costs, unless it is waived by the court. Other forms of restitution or repair may be required by the court, in addition or instead of the graffiti removal.
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