Guide to Laws about Graffiti and Vandalism in California

Many laws regarding graffiti and vandalism are made at the local level, so be sure to look up your local laws. See here for the Los Angeles area and the San Francisco area.

How is graffiti defined?

Graffiti, though some may consider it “street art,” generally refers to any “defacement” or unauthorized markings on public or private property.

What are the penalties for graffiti or vandalism?

In California, depending on the value of the damage, graffiti or vandalism can lead to up to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $50,000. If a minor is responsible for the graffiti or vandalism and can’t pay the fine, the parents must pay it.1Penal Code 594

See our Guide to Laws for Parents.

Do graffiti artists have any rights to their art?

If it’s done legally, then yes. If it’s illegal, probably not. See our Guide to Laws for Artists.

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