Graffiti art started out as an urban phenomenon, but it’s gradually gone mainstream. After all, it’s hard to deny the commercial success of street artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairey.
Unfortunately, teenagers don’t realize that what makes one person a celebrity can land another in hot water with the authorities. Teens sometimes paint graffiti on a building or a wall because they’re merely bored, are looking for an outlet for their feelings or just want to show off their artistic talent. Some may even do it on a dare.
Graffiti is illegal in Texas, however, and a teenager’s escapade with a can of spray paint can result in serious charges. If your teen is caught tagging a bridge or artfully redecorating the wall of a building, they can be charged with both criminal graffiti and criminal mischief.
How much trouble are they in? The answer largely depends on how much it costs to undo the damage. If it takes less than $100 to remove the paint and there is no further harm, they are facing Class C misdemeanors for the charges. That will net them a fine, but no jail time. If the damage is significantly more, say between $750 and $2500, your teen could be facing a year in jail (per charge) and a fine that runs into the thousands.
If this is your child’s first graffiti or vandalism offense, it’s important to get experienced legal assistance. The goal should always be to steer an errant teenager away from trouble — and time in a juvenile detention center isn’t really necessary to do that. It’s often possible to negotiate a sentence that includes counseling, community service and at-home probation, instead.