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    A blue chalk flower on your front step – graffiti??

    Date: 10.14.07 | by Judge Tom.


    That’s what New York City says. Six-year-old Natalie chalked on the front steps of her home. Her parents received a ticket with a possible $300 fine if it wasn’t removed. Natalie explained that it wasn’t graffiti – “It was art, very nice art.” A heavy rain erased her work with no further consequences.

    See Crimes & Punishment “What if I damage someone else’s property?” for a serious discussion of tagging and property damage. 

    Photo by Owen (Flickr)

    Should there be exceptions to laws like these?  Do you think the city council or whatever governing board was involved contemplated incidents like these to come under their law?  What could you do to bring these minor infractions to the attention of lawmakers?

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    1 Comment subscribe to these comments.

    • Jennifer Jones
      Mon, 03 Oct 2011 at 08:27

      Why do they call it “sidewalk chalk” if it may be illegal to use it as advertised? Should it come with a warning?

      Our fascist police chief says the ground is not the ground, and public property does not belong to the public. I am looking for any free speech case law that might apply in AZ for an article I’m writing regarding copblock.org “Chalk the Police Day”Key phrase in #5 is “except the ground”!http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/13/01602.htm&Title=13&DocType=ARS
      Thanks for your comments, Jennifer. Because every state’s criminal damage laws differ slightly, whether chalking in Arizona could be considered criminal damage may depend on a strict interpretation of the statute as well as the legislative intent. It seems unlikely that they intended for sidewalk chalk used on the ground to constitute criminal damage. Please send us a link to your article once it’s published. Thank you.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)