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Graffiti offences

Information about the kinds of offences and penalties that can apply if a person uses spray paint on a wall or other surface without permission.

There are several Acts that allow police to deal with graffiti in Victoria. The Graffiti Prevention Act 2007 (Vic) makes it clear that the law is not meant to lessen the effect of other laws that have the potential to deal with Graffiti. This allows police to choose which Act is best, based on the particular circumstances and facts of the case.

The Graffiti Prevention Act 2007 makes it easier to search for graffiti tools in particular areas and makes it illegal to sell spray-cans to people under 18. If police believe that a young person has been marking lots of graffiti, they may be likely to charge the young person under the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).

Spray-paint cans are not permitted in some areas

It is illegal to have a can of spray paint in the following places:

  • property that belongs to a transport company
  • in a public place that is adjacent to (next to and visible from) transport company property, or
  • any property if trespassing or have not been invited there.

Exception

A person may carry a spray-can if they are doing something that is related to their work. But it needs to be plausible.

See 'legitimate excuses' in Search and seizure of graffiti tools.

Penalty

The maximum penalty is:

  • 25 penalty units or
  • 5 penalty units if an infringement notice is issued for the offence.

Note: Police and protective services officers (when on duty in a designated place) may issue a fine for this offence.

See ss. 3,7, 11—Graffiti Prevention Act 2007 (Vic) and Protective Services Officers—Where do PSOs operate?

Possessing a tool to make graffiti

It is against the law to carry a graffiti tool with the intention of creating graffiti. Anyone who is found guilty of this offence could be fined up to 25 penalty units.

Unlike the 'possession of spray-paint' offence, no 'lawful excuse' is available because the act is only illegal if police can prove that the person intended to create graffiti.

See s. 8—Graffiti Prevention Act 2007 (Vic).

Creating graffiti

It is an offence to do any of the following acts on any rail vehicle, road vehicle or rail premises:

  • write, draw, or affix any word, representation, character or poster, or
  • scratch or burn.

Maximum penalty

  • Scratching or burning—10 penalty units
  • Writing, drawing, affixing poster—20 penalty units

See rr. 37, 38—Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) (Conduct on Public Transport) Regulations 2015 (Vic).

Destroy damage or deface rail property

It is also an offence to destroy damage or deface any property that belongs to a passenger transport company, rail freight operator or rail track.

Maximum penalty

  • 20 penalty units

See r. 20—Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) (Conduct on Public Transport) Regulations 2015 (Vic).

Graffiti on property without permission

A person must not create graffiti without permission from the owner (or agent) of a property if that property can be seen from a public place.

Offensive graffiti

A separate offence has been created for anyone who creates 'offensive' graffiti. This is against the law if it would offend a reasonable person.

Exception

Reasonable political comment is not considered offensive.

Penalties

The maximum penalty for each of these graffiti offences is:

  • Level 7 imprisonment (2 years)

See ss. 3,5, 6—Graffiti Prevention Act 2007 (Vic) and s. 109—Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) (links below)

More information

Legislation

Graffiti Prevention Act 2007 (Vic)

  • s. 3—defines a graffiti offence, and defines graffiti as prescribed graffiti implement is defined as something that can be used to mark graffiti that includes an aerosol spray-can or other implement that is prescribed in the regulations (there are currently no regulations), a 'prescribed graffiti implement' is an aerosol paint container
  • s. 5—marking graffiti without permission
  • s. 6—offensive graffiti
  • s. 7—possessing a prescribed graffiti implement
  • s. 11—infringement notices, penalties and offences
  • s. 27—power to make regulations about 'prescribed graffiti' tools (none have been made so far)

See Graffiti Prevention Act 2007 (Vic).

Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) (Conduct on Public Transport) Regulations 2005 (Vic) (link below)

  • s. 27—Graffiti offence
  • s. 27A—scratching or burning
  • s. 48—damage to passenger transport property

See Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) (Conduct on Public Transport) Regulations 2015 (Vic).

Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic)

  • s. 109—penalty scale

See Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic).

Youthlaw—Legal information and factsheets

This specialist community legal centre that assists young people has a factsheet about police powers to search for graffiti implements.

  • 'Graffiti laws'

See Youthlaw—Learn about the law.

Updated