Many people call graffiti “art,” but Florida lawmakers are not among them. Florida law categorizes graffiti as vandalism and though it may seem like a harmless enough offense, it costs business owners an average of $3,370 per year. To offset this cost, business owners may need to raise the costs of their goods and services. For this reason, the Sunshine State punishes vandals with hefty fines and jail time.
According to FindLaw, Florida law refers to vandalism as “criminalmischief,” which is the willful and malicious destruction of another’s property. Listed as a type of criminal mischief is graffiti. The penalties for graffiti vary depending on the extent of the damage and how much it costs the property owner to remedy it. However, the consequences of a conviction are quite strict, especially if the vandalism resulted in business interruption. Similarly, if your teen defaced a synagogue, church, mosque or other place of worship, the state will elevate the charge to a third-degree felony, which is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison.
Typically, a vandalism charge results in nothing more than a second-degree misdemeanor charge. Such a conviction results in a fine of up to $500 and a term of imprisonment of no more than 60 days. However, if the value of the damage exceeds $200 but is less than $1,000, the charge becomes a first-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail. If the value of the damage exceeds $1,000, and if it results in the interruption of a business’s operations, the charge becomes a felony of the third degree.
This article is not meant to serve as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.