What are we getting ourselves into?
In Britain and Australia we have laws against graffiti – in fact in Australia we have even stricter laws. Graffiti is a crime in some countries – New Zealand, and in France it is against the law to write graffiti as part of a criminal act. In Britain graffiti is an offence against the peace but in some other countries it is not – it is perfectly acceptable to write graffiti on the side of your car, for example.
Is graffiti against the law if someone writes it on their car?
In most of the cases a judge will look at whether the vandalism was done as a matter of course or not – but in some countries there are other circumstances which make a court accept a claim that it was done as a matter of course, or as part of an organised event.
I found a painting on the pavement. Can I go around and destroy it?
If graffiti is found then in most cases the court’s role is to try to find out what happened to it. Some police forces will want to collect evidence to aid their investigations, so in many cases they will need permission from civil courts, sometimes even from the criminal courts if the property being sought is worth more than €50,000.
Should I go around and erase it?
Yes. There have been some examples of individuals doing so, but more often people see it as vandalism and delete it themselves by using permanent markers. It is very helpful to know the correct procedure and how to do it.
What are the chances that my graffiti will be returned?
It is better if it is returned to you in a more professional way, as a signed message for example – that can have the effect of a deterrent for other would-be perpetrators. There will be some graffiti cases where people have returned a painting to an innocent person because the paint was not of suitable quality. But in general most people who come to court for graffiti offences accept a return – most graffiti is returned fairly quickly and it is very easy to restore it if the work is of high quality.
What should I do if I find someone who is writing on my car?
You can always come to a police station and ask for a report and give them a picture of the damage and the name of the person causing it. This can help the police and the court to find out more before bringing an action of vandalism against a member of the public.
I have found graffiti on a building and I think
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