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When is graffiti legal?

Here in Connecticut, as in many places, it's hard to drive for very far without seeing some type of graffiti on a building, underpass, street sign or even on the side of a large vehicle. Some may be no more than gang signs or other sort of identifying marks. Other may actually show some artistic talent.

Street art is a worldwide phenomenon, and in some instances, people like Banksy, the British street artist, and Space Invader, a French street artist, are widely acclaimed. However, don't assume that property owners or law enforcement will recognize your efforts as art. Even Space Invader has been arrested here in the U.S.

In March 2015, Stamford, Connecticut, police arrested two men in their 20s as part of their investigation into multiple incidents of vandalism of businesses and residences throughout the area. A police spokesperson called graffiti a "quality of life crime." He noted that they take it seriously because it's a "nuisance to the public eye" and that it costs "hundreds of dollars to properly clean each location."

If you or a loved one feels the need to express your artistic tendencies, you can do it legally on private property if you have the permission of the property owner. Some businesses welcome a little color and a chance to stand out.

Painting or otherwise marking up private property without that permission or public property, however, can land you under arrest. If that happens, it's important to have an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney by your side to protect your rights and work to mitigate the consequences of the arrest on your future.

Source: FindLaw, "When Is Graffiti Considered Art and Not a Crime?," Ephrat Livni, Esq., accessed Dec. 16, 2015

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