graffiti

Graffiti offenders’ parents may have to pay up

Phoenix residents want the Arizona Legislature to take new steps to combat graffiti, including some that could yank driver licenses of juvenile offenders and hit the wallets of their parents.

A city task force is proposing legislation that would include mandating full restitution by minors convicted of criminal graffiti damage.

City staff said graffiti has not increased over the past year, but is a consistent problem, the Arizona Republic reported.

Between its own costs and those of major utilities, the city estimates it costs $6 million a year to paint over graffiti, said resident and task force member Ginnie Sumner, a former teacher.

“And police will tell you that graffiti is a gateway to other crimes,” Sumner said. “What we’re interested in doing is helping those who get involved in graffiti learn that there are consequences for their actions.”

Under the restitution proposal, there would be a liability for parents capped at $10,000 if the minor can’t pay.

Also under the proposed legislation, juvenile offenders could have their driver’s license suspended or taken away, and spray paint would need to be locked up in stores.

Under current state law, it is already considered criminal damage to inscribe a message, slogan, sign or symbol on any public or private building, structure or surface, except for the ground, without the owner’s permission.

Penalties vary, ranging from fines and up to four months in jail for damage of $250 or less to fines and up to three years in prison for damage of $10,000 or more. Repeat offenders get tougher penalties.

The Legislature’s 2013 session begins Monday.

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