The swirling force of Texas politics

Could Bill's Harsher Penalties Erase Graffiti?

Bill would make it Class A misdemeanor or state jail felony, depending on circumstances

By Omar Villafranca
|  Wednesday, Mar 16, 2011  |  Updated 12:31 AM CDT
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The Legislature is considering toughening the penalties for people convicted of writing graffiti.

Omar Villafranca, NBCDFW.com

The Legislature is considering toughening the penalties for people convicted of writing graffiti.

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The Legislature is considering toughening the penalties for people convicted of writing graffiti.

House Bill 38 would make a first-time graffiti offense a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 fine, a jail term of up to one year or both.

The measure would bump the charge up to a state jail felony and require a minimum 72-hour jail term if the graffiti is on schools, burial sites, worship laces or government buildings or if the person has a previous graffiti conviction.

The bill also has provisions to take away the driver's licenses of offenders for two years.

Businesses owners such as Ashley Dootson, of Sweet 200 Hair Salon in Oak Cliff, say they would welcome stiffer penalties for graffiti.

"If they were smart, they would think twice about tagging the next building, because who wants
to go to jail for three days for something like spray-painting?" Dootson said.

She said she has had to clean graffiti off her Davis Street shop several times.

"We'll go out there with a power washer and then with a paint brush and paint over that spot," she said.

Dootson said some money has to go to paint instead of new hair-cutting tools or towels.

The bill is currently in committee.

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