Because of the growing popularity of graffiti artists like Banksy, many people have come to appreciate the aesthetic value of graffiti. This sort of celebrity has spawned imitators across Michigan, whether they are creating complex drawings in the middle of the night or simply tagging walls. The growing popularity of graffiti, especially among young people has led to a renewed debate over whether or not it is art or simply vandalism. Is graffiti a crime — or simply a form of expression?
The truth is, the answer isn’t always clear. Whatever side of the debate you fall on, however, the fact is that graffiti is considered a crime in Michigan. If you are caught painting graffiti on public property or a person’s private property without permission, you can be charged with destruction of property. These vandalism charges can be a simple misdemeanor, but if the value of the damaged property is high enough, you can actually face felony charges.
What Is the Penalty for Graffiti?
Many people assume that an arrest for graffiti will only get you a warning or a small fine. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily true. While it is possible that you can get a plea bargain for community service and restitution of the money required to remove the graffiti or repair the alleged damage, often the sentence is much harsher—even for juvenile offenders. If sentenced as an adult, you face up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $500 for misdemeanor destruction of property for damage assessed at under $200.
The potential consequences only increase exponentially as the value of the property where the graffiti was discovered increases. The maximum penalty for destruction of property can include up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $15,000. In addition, you face long-term employment and social consequences associated with a criminal record.
As you can see, an arrest related to vandalism or graffiti is nothing to take lightly. If you are accused, it is important to take immediate steps to protect yourself. The first thing to do is to get an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney by your side to help fight for your rights.
If you are accused of destruction of property in Michigan, call the Davis Law Group, PLLC, for a free consultation right away at (313) 818-3238. Find out how we may be able to help your case get the best outcome possible.