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What are the penalties for graffiti violations in New Jersey?

When someone is convicted of a graffiti violation in New Jersey, he or she will normally have a fourth degree crime on their record. Violations bring a variety of potential penalties that the court can impose, including a jail sentence, community service and restitution to the defaced property's owner.

Fourth degree crimes carry a potential sentence of up to 18 months in jail. In addition to any jail time or probation, the court can also impose monetary restitution in the amount of the loss suffered, or, in the event that the defendant is unable to pay, the court can impose no less than 20 days of community service or the minimum number of days required to remove the graffiti from the property.

Additionally, under New Jersey law, if the graffiti applied is a gang symbol designed to inspire fear of imminent death or injury, the crime is enhanced and the potential penalties increase. Gang graffiti that inspires imminent fear is a third degree crime, punishable by three to five years of imprisonment. If convicted under this gang legislation, the community service and restitution provisions will still apply as well.

When people or their children have been accused of committing a graffiti violation, whether gang-related or not, the potential penalties are severe. In addition to monetary payments, the individual may also face incarceration. Charged people may thus wish to seek the representation of a criminal defense attorney who may be able to identify potential defenses and fight the case through a jury trial or , or negotiate a plea to a lessor offense with the prosecutor. Sources: New Jersey State Judiciary, "The criminal justice process", 2014. National Gang Center, " New Jersey ", 2014.

Source: New Jersey Statutes, "2C:33-11.Defacement of private property, crime of fourth degree; act of graffiti, additional penalty ", October 07, 2014

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