[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of East Orange 9-11-1995 by Ord. No. 11-1995. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The City Council of the City of East Orange, New Jersey, hereby finds and declares that graffiti is detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the community and that there is a perception in the community that the laws protecting public and private property can be disregarded with impunity. This perception fosters a sense of disrespect of the law that results in an increase of crime, is detrimental to the property values of the community, degrades the community and leads to urban blight, and is inconsistent with the City of East Orange's property maintenance goals and aesthetic standards.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The City of East Orange, New Jersey.
- To cover, mark, write on, paint, color or otherwise mar, disfigure or draw whatsoever on any private or public property of any nature without the express consent of the owner.
- Any form of inscription, word, figure, marking or design that is marked, etched, scratched, drawn down or painted on any building, structure, fixture or other improvement, whether permanent or temporary, including, by way of example only and without limitation, fencing surrounding construction sites, whether public or private, without the consent of the owner of the property or the owner's authorized agent, which is visible from the private right-of-way.
- INDELIBLE MARKER
- Any felt-tip marker, china marker or similar device that is not water soluble and which has a flat or angled writing surface 1/2 inch or greater.
- Includes knowledge or information which a parent should reasonably be expected to have pertaining to the marking of graffiti. It is intended to include and require neglectful or careless parents to maintain a reasonable community standard of parental respectability through an objective test. There shall be no defense of a parent who is indifferent to the activities or conduct of a minor in their custody, when they have knowledge of the individual's actions that are not in compliance of this chapter.
- MINOR or JUVENILE
- Used interchangeably, and shall mean any person under the age of 17, any person less than 17 years of age or any person who has not celebrated his or her 17th birthday.
- The owner of record of the property as set forth in the records of the Tax Assessor for the City of East Orange.
- Any person to whom legal custody of a juvenile has been given by court order or is acting in the place of the parent or is responsible for the care and welfare of the juvenile and shall include:
- PUBLIC PLACE
- Any place to which the public has access, including but not limited to a public street, road, thoroughfare, sidewalk, bridge, alley, plaza, park, recreation or shopping area, public transportation facility, vehicle use for public transportation, parking lot or any other parking, public building, structure or any municipal parking signs, etc., or area.
The following acts are prohibited:
No person shall willfully or maliciously damage, deface or vandalize any public or private property by painting, writing, drawing or otherwise inscribing in any fashion graffiti thereon without the express permission or consent of the owner. However, this prohibition shall not apply to easily removable (which are water soluble) chalk markings on public sidewalks or streets, written or drawn in connection with traditional children's games, or in any lawful business or public purpose or activity.
It shall be unlawful to aid anyone in defacing public or private property.
No person shall possess a spray container or indelible marker in any public place or on any public facility or private property with the intent to use the same to deface said public building, property or private property, absent express permission to the contrary.
Any minor under the age of 17 years found by a police officer to be in violation of this chapter shall be brought to the nearest police station, where the minor shall be released to his or her parent or guardian. The parent, as defined in § 157-2, shall be immediately notified and required to report to police headquarters to procure the juvenile.
When a parent immediately called has come to take charge of the juvenile and the appropriate information has been recorded, the juvenile shall be released to the custody of such parent. If a parent cannot be located or fails to take charge of the juvenile, then the juvenile shall be released to the juvenile authorities except to the extent that, in accordance with police regulations promulgated by the Chief of Police, approved in advance for juvenile authorities, the juvenile may temporarily be entrusted to an adult, relative, neighbor or other person who will, on behalf of the parent, assume responsibility for caring for the juvenile pending availability of the parent or guardian.
In the case of a first violation by the juvenile, the juvenile and parent shall receive, both in person and by certified mail, a written warning notice from the officer in charge of the police station indicating the circumstances under which the minor was found to be in violation of this chapter.
If the minor has been convicted of violating this chapter on a prior occasion within six months of the date of the present violation, there shall be a presumption that, whenever a minor has been convicted for a violation of this chapter, the parent or guardian having care of the minor knew or should have known of the minor's violation of this section.
Adults who are not parents of offenders as defined in § 157-2 of this chapter. Any adult who violates any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by one or more of the following penalties:
Juveniles and/or parent violators as defined in § 157-4 of this chapter.
After the receipt of a warning notice pursuant to § 157-5C of a first violation by a juvenile, when a second graffiti violation is adjudged against the same minor the parents of the minor shall be subject to prosecution under this section. Violators of this chapter shall be required to perform community service of a period not to exceed 90 days and may be subject to a fine of not less than $500 but no more than $1,000. Additionally, any parent having the care or custody of a minor found to be in violation of this section, if it is adjudged that both the juvenile and the juvenile's parents violated this chapter, they shall be required to perform community service together.
If a minor has been found to violate this chapter twice within a six-month period, the minor shall receive a summons and complaint from the police officer who apprehended the minor for the violation of this chapter.
If a juvenile is found to be in violation of this chapter on three occasions within six months, then the juvenile as well as the parent having the care and custody of the minor shall receive a summons and complaint for the violation of this chapter.
Any juvenile who violates any of the provisions of this chapter as contained in § 157-3 more than four times shall be reported by the Chief of Police to the juvenile authorities as a juvenile in need of supervision, and the Chief of Police, Corporation Counsel or their designee may proceed to file such charges with the Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Part, as he or she may deem appropriate.
All fines collected, not to exceed 70% of the total cost, shall be placed in a special account to be used as assistance to homeowners for removing graffiti. (It is presumed that 30% of the fees collected are needed to defray court costs.) This account will also be used to purchase graffiti cleaning equipment.
Notice. The owner of any premises that is determined by the City to have any form of graffiti upon any building or structure shall be delivered a written notice both by ordinary mail and certified mail of the order to remove the graffiti. The order shall afford the owner 90 days from the date that the notice is sent to remove the graffiti. However, the Department of Transportation shall be afforded, from the date that a notice is sent, 120 days to remove graffiti from property owned by the Department (N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.59c). The notice shall contain a form to be utilized by the property owner to inform the City that the graffiti has been removed. The form shall contain a provision stating that by affixing a signature to the form indicating that the graffiti has been removed the owner is certifying that the facts set forth therein are true and that the certification shall be considered as if made under oath and subject to the same penalties as provided by law for perjury.
Requirement to remove graffiti. An owner who has been ordered to remove graffiti shall respond to the City by personal delivery or certified mail of any objection to the order within 30 days of the date of the order or of notice that the graffiti has been removed within 90 days of the date of the order or, in the case of the Department of Transportation, 120 days of the date of the order.
An owner who objects to an order to remove graffiti may institute an action challenging the order before a court of competent jurisdiction within 60 days of the date of the order.
If said graffiti is not corrected within 90 business days after written notice is issued, then the City of East Orange shall have the right to issue a summons and to enter the premises to remove the graffiti and/or repaint the premises, and the cost of the removal of the graffiti and/or repainting shall be at the sole cost and expense of the occupant, lessee, agent and/or landlord of said building or structure. The actual cost of the removal of the graffiti and/or repainting, plus the cost of inspection of said graffiti and/or repainting and other costs incidental to such removal, shall be certified by the City Administrator to the City Council, which may authorize the institution of an action at law for the collection thereof. The Superior Court shall have jurisdiction of any such action.
A reward of $250 shall be paid to any person who provides information or assistance leading to the apprehension and conviction of any person violating this chapter. This reward shall be payable after conviction out of a fund established for this purpose, but no reward shall be paid to any public employee whose duty it is to investigate or enforce this chapter. The Chief of Police is hereby authorized to grant such reward with the consent of the Municipal Council, and said reward shall only be given upon notification by the Municipal Court that the matter has been adjudicated.