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Why graffiti can have serious consequences in North Carolina

You may think that your teen's graffiti is simply an artistic expression. If they're bored, there are worse things they could be doing, right? The problem is that if their graffiti is on property that doesn't belong to you or on property they don't have the owner's permission to alter, it's considered vandalism under North Carolina law. That's a property crime, which can have serious consequences.

Depending on where they draw the graffiti, they could be subject to some laws specific to North Carolina. For example, North Carolina has a law that protects "monuments, memorials, and works of art." That includes all statues and monuments. No matter how you may feel about them and what they represent, they are considered "objects of remembrance" under the law. If you attempt to alter or remove them -- including putting graffiti or other messages on them -- you risk criminal charges.

North Carolina law also prohibits the damaging of the state's many cave and caverns. While prehistoric men may have drawn on them in part as a means of communication, your teen is better off sticking to their iPhone.

The penalties a person can face for graffiti depend in part on their criminal record (or lack of one). Typically, "graffiti vandalism" is considered a misdemeanor. A person convicted of it faces a fine of at least $500 and community service of at least 24 hours. If someone has two prior convictions for similar offenses, they could face felony charges.

What may seem like harmless fun or a righteous social statement can carry some expensive penalties. A conviction can follow a teen to college and beyond. Make sure that they know and understand the consequences. If your child is facing vandalism charges, it's essential to take the matter seriously and make sure that they get experienced legal help.

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Bull & Reinhardt, PLLC
160 E. Chestnut Street
Asheville, NC 28801

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