[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Old Bridge 9-8-2003 by Ord. No. 41-03. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Whereas, the Township of Old Bridge, New Jersey, hereby finds and declares that graffiti is detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the community; and
Whereas, there is a perception in the community that the laws protecting public and private property can be disregarded with impunity; and
Whereas, 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 Township of Old Bridge's property maintenance goals and aesthetic standards.
Graffiti results in visual pollution and is hereby deemed a public nuisance.
It is the purpose of this chapter to provide a mechanism in which individuals may be prosecuted for defacing public and private property.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- 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 conducts of a minor in their custody, when they have knowledge of individual's actions that are not in compliance with 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 Township of Old Bridge.
- 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 used for public transportation, parking lot or any other parking, public building, structure or any municipal parking signs, etc., or area.
- The Township of Old Bridge, New Jersey.
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 § 215-2, 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.
If the minor has been convicted of violating this chapter on a prior occasion within one year 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.
Juveniles and/or parent violators as defined in § 215-4 of this chapter.
After the receipt of a summons pursuant to § 215-5C 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 subject to the penalty set forth in Chapter 1, Article II, Penalty. 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.
[Amended 1-9-2006 by Ord. No. 38-2005]
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 § 215-3 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, Township Attorney 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.
In addition to any other penalty imposed by the court, any person convicted of a violation of this chapter may, at the discretion of the Judge of the Municipal Court, be required to pay to the owner of the damaged property monetary restitution in the amount of the pecuniary damage caused by the act of graffiti or, as part of such person's community service, to remove the graffiti from the property.
Requirement to remove graffiti. The occupant, lessee, agent and/or landlord of any commercial premises which has any form of graffiti on any building or structure shall be required to either restore the defaced surface by removing the graffiti or repaint that defaced surface within 15 calendar days after notice to the occupant, lessee, agent and/or landlord by the Chief of Police, his designee, or Code Enforcement Officer to remove same. Any person who shall violate any provision of this section shall be subject to a penalty of $20 per day; after 30 days, the penalty shall increase to $100 per day. Such penalty shall be imposed for each day after the initial 15 calendar days that such violation thereafter continues. The penalties may be imposed against the owner or lessee, agent and/or landlord wherein such violation occurs, or both.
[Amended 5-19-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-14]
Remedy. If said graffiti is not corrected within 30 business days after written notice is issued, then the Township of Old Bridge 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. Pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.12f, or any successor statute, 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 Business Administrator to the Township Council and therefor shall be entered as a lien upon the real property upon which the graffiti was found to be placed and shall be added to and become a part of the taxes to be assessed against and levied on the real property, and the same shall be collected and reinforced in the same manner as taxes.