Countywide : 2 New Laws Toughen Penalties for Graffiti

Continuing the uphill fight against graffiti, Gov. Pete Wilson signed a pair of bills Wednesday authored by two Orange County lawmakers that increase parental liability for property defaced by their children and make it a crime to possess a marker with the intent to scrawl graffiti.

Wilson cited the enormous costs of cleaning up graffiti and the proliferating violence associated with it in signing the measures authored by Sen. John R. Lewis (R-Orange) and Sen. Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach).

"Graffiti is more than just a blight to the eye," Wilson said. "It is also a major financial drain. . . . These bills will not only assist cities and counties in paying for their cleanup efforts, but also put the burden of punishment where it belongs--with the vandal and the parent."

Lewis' bill makes it a misdemeanor to possess an aerosol paint can, a felt-tip marker or other marking device with intent to use it for graffiti. Maximum penalties are six months in jail, a $1,000 fine and 90 days' community service.

Bergeson's measure, which was spurred by the Orange County Graffiti Task Force, would double the civil liability of parents whose children do graffiti, making the adults even more accountable for their children. Under current law, parents are liable in civil court cases for up to $10,000 damage caused by their children. Bergeson's bill raises the limit to $20,000.

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