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Graffiti Laws

Property Owner Responsibility

Reporting Graffiti

Graffiti Laws

Both the State of Maryland and Montgomery County have laws addressing the crime of graffiti vandalism.

State law defines graffiti and classifies it as a misdemeanor offense. If the value of the property damage is less than $500, violators are subject to a $500 fine, 60 days in jail, or both. If the value of the property damage is greater than $500, violators are subject to a $2,500 fine, imprisonment not to exceed three years, or both. In addition to these penalties, offenders may be required to make financial restitution, up to $10,000 per incident, perform community service, or both.

For juveniles caught doing graffiti, the parent or legal guardian may be ordered to pay restitution, up to $10,000 per incident. The Department of Juvenile Justice processes all cases involving juveniles. They decide whether to handle the case “informally” or “formally.” If the case is handled informally, one of two things can occur: the juvenile can be ordered to attend Teen Court and accept the penalties; or, he or she can be ordered to perform community service and/or make financial restitution to the property owner.

Should the case proceed formally, the State’s Attorney will file a petition and the case will be set for trial. Once the juvenile is found “involved” or pleads “involved,” the court will determine how the case is to be disposed. That disposition can be incarceration at a juvenile facility, or placing the juvenile on probation with “conditions.” Two typical conditions are community service and financial restitution to the property owner.

County law defines graffiti and graffiti material and makes it a crime for individuals to do graffiti on public or private property. Local law also prohibits the possession of graffiti material with the intent to do graffiti. Individuals who violate the law may be subject to fines ranging from $500 to $1,000 and jail time up to six months.