Is graffiti illegal in Texas?
Yes, graffiti is illegal in Texas if you don’t have permission from the property owner to mark the property. Under Texas Penal Code 28.08, a person commits graffiti if he or she, without the consent of the owner, intentionally or knowingly makes markings, including inscriptions, drawings, or paintings, on the tangible property of the owner with:
- an indelible marker; or
- etching or engraving device
Drive around Fort Worth or any large city in North Texas, and there is a good chance you will see graffiti on buildings, fences, and trains. Some will find it beautiful, while others will see it as an eyesore. In this blog post, we will explore Texas graffiti laws, possible punishments, and potential defenses.
What are common forms of graffiti in Texas?
There are many different types of graffiti, but some of the most common forms in Texas include:
–Tagging: This is when a person spray paints their name or initials on the property. Tagging is often associated with gang activity.
–Throw-ups: These are quick tags that are often done in a hurry.
–Stencils: Stencils are usually more detailed than tags and throw-ups.
–Pieces: These are more elaborate graffiti designs that often take longer to create. They are also often referred to as murals.
What is the punishment for violating Texas graffiti laws?
The punishment for violating Texas graffiti laws can range from a ticket to up to life in prison. It depends on the amount of damage that was caused which is outlined below.
- If the damage was less than $100, it is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $500 fine.
- If the amount of damage was more than $100 but less than $750, it is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in county jail and a maximum $2,000 fine.
- If the damage amount is more than $750 but less than $2500, it is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in county jail and a maximum $4,000 fine.
- If the damage amount is more than $2500 but less than $30,000 if is a state jail felony punishable by 6 months to 2 years in a state jail facility.
- If the damage amount is more than $30,000 but less than $150,000 it is a third-degree felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.
- If the damage amount is more than $150,000 but less than $300,000 it is a second-degree felony punishable to 2 to 20 years in prison.
- If the damage amount is $300,000 or more it is a first-degree felony punishable by 5 to 99 years in prison.
** It’s also important to point out that each property or structure can count as a separate offense. So, if you tag five buildings, you could face five separate charges of graffiti.
Do certain graffiti locations carry stiffer punishment than others?
Yes, all graffiti is not treated equally in Texas. If the marking causes between $750 to $30,000 in damages to a school; college or place of higher education; a church or place of worship; human burial; public monument; or a community center that provides medical, social or education programs, the punishment is a state jail felony punishable by 6 months to 2 years in a state jail.
Can my driver’s license be suspended for a graffiti conviction?
Yes. Section 521.320 of the Texas Transportation Code says that your license can be suspended for one year if convicted of a graffiti offense. This is a collateral consequence of Texas graffiti laws that many people are unaware of – and one of the many reasons you need an experienced defense attorney if arrested on a graffiti charge.
What are possible defenses to a graffiti charge in North Texas?
If you have been charged with graffiti in Fort Worth or North Texas, an experienced criminal defense attorney will review the facts of your case and determine the best defenses. Some possible defenses include:
- You believed you had permission from the property owner;
- The property was not owned by anyone;
- You did not intend to damage the property;
- The accusation is false.
Accused of Graffiti in Fort Worth? Contact Us.
If you have been accused of graffiti in Fort Worth or the surrounding area, it’s important to take the charges seriously. A conviction can result in jail time, fines, and a criminal record that can follow you for the rest of your life.
An experienced Fort Worth graffiti defense attorney will review the facts of your case and work to resolve your case in a manner that will not impact the rest of your life.
In some cases, we may be able to negotiate a resolution that allows you to pay restitution or clean up the property in lieu of jail time or straight probation. To learn how Varghese Summersett can help, call us at 817-203-2220 for a free consultation with an experienced defense attorney.