“Street art” has become very popular, especially in urban areas and among young people. Unfortunately, youthful exuberance about that kind of art can lead to some unauthorized experimentation with paint cans — and wind up with criminal charges.

 In New Jersey, graffiti falls under the heading of “criminal mischief.” If your teen is charged with this offense, here’s what could be at stake:

  • Your teen could be headed for jail. With graffiti, your teen’s charges will reflect the amount of damage that was done to the property that was painted. It can be considered a disorderly persons offense or a crime in the second, third or fourth degree. Even the least serious charge can lead to six months in jail.

     Your teen may owe some hefty fines and restitution. Since property damage is part of this crime, your teen will face fines that reflect the amount of damage that was done. They will also have to pay restitution to the owner of the property for their losses. They could also be sentenced to community service as part of their punishment.

     Your teen will have a record that can haunt their future. Depending on the situation, a conviction could influence a stiffer sentence down the line if your teen makes another mistake or interfere with their entire future as they seek to move on.

There are potential defenses against this kind of crime. Your teen may have thought they had the owner’s permission to decorate that wall, or your teen may be a victim of mistaken identity. Talk to an experienced legal defender to learn more about what steps you need to take next to protect your child’s future.