Nevada "Graffiti" Laws (NRS 206.330)
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys


It is unlawful in Nevada to tag graffiti on public or private property without the owner's consent.1 Merely carrying markers or paint may be a crime if the person intends to vandalize with it.2 Graffiti charges are often brought against gang members or “tagging crews” in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada.

Nevada Graffiti Defenses:

There are three common defense strategies to fight Nevada graffiti charges:

  1. The police arrested the wrong person.
  2. The defendant had the property owner's consent to use graffiti.
  3. The defendant's use of graffiti was Constitutionally-protected free speech.

Nevada Graffiti Penalties:

Nevada graffiti convictions typically carry fines of up to $1,000, plus a $250 assessment fee and possible restitution.3 Defendants are also ordered to complete 100 to 300 hours of community service.4 In addition, the court suspends the person's Nevada driver's license for up to 2 years.5

Nevada judges may also impose incarceration for using graffiti:

  • Causing less than $250 in damage and cleanup costs is a misdemeanor. It carries up to 6 months in jail.
  • Causing $250 to less than $5,000 in damage and cleanup costs is a gross misdemeanor. It carries up to 364 days in jail.
  • Causing $5,000 or more in damage and cleanup costs is a category E felony. It carries up to 4 years in prison. But the judge usually grants probation instead (which includes at least 10 days of jail time).6

Nevada judges may also impose up to 4 years in prison for putting graffiti on historic sites.7

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Putting graffiti on public property carries the same penalties as putting graffiti on private property.

Scroll down or click on a topic below for more detailed information on Nevada graffiti law.

1. Definition of Nevada Graffiti Crimes

1.1. Graffiti and Gangs in Nevada

1.2. Carrying Graffiti with Intent to Use it in Nevada

2. Defenses to Nevada Graffiti Charges

2.1. Misidentification

2.2. Consent

2.3. First Amendment

3. Penalties for Nevada Graffiti Crimes

3.1. Extent of Graffiti Damage

3.2. Previous Graffiti Convictions

3.3. Impairing Public Utilities

3.4. Defacing Historic Sites

3.5. Suspended Driver's Licenses

3.6. Gang Enhancements

3.7. Juvenile Penalties

3.8. Civil Penalties

1. Definition of Nevada Graffiti Crimes

The legal definition of “graffiti” in Nevada is very broad. It includes not just paint from spray cans. “Graffiti” also means any “unauthorized inscription, word, figure or design that is marked, etched, scratched, drawn, painted on, or affixed to” another person's property.8 Even chalking a sidewalk is considered graffiti.9

NRS 206.330 makes it a crime in Nevada to place graffiti on public property or private property without the owner's permission.10 All types of property are off-limits to tagging. This includes lawns, houses, offices, signs, cars, and personal belongings. Nevada police may offer rewards of up to $1,000 for information on graffiti perpetrators.11

The legal term for graffiti in Nevada is “malicious mischief.” Acts of vandalism that do not involve graffiti are called “public offenses.”12 Learn more about public offenses in our article on the Nevada crime of vandalism.

1.1. Graffiti and Gangs in Nevada

Nevada graffiti cases frequently involve alleged gang members. This is because marking territory through graffiti can be a central component of gang culture. Defendants who use graffiti for the benefit of a gang may face several years of additional prison time.13 Learn more about criminal gang enhancements in Nevada.

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Many Nevada tagging charges are against gang members.

1.2. Carrying Graffiti with Intent to Use it in Nevada

Nevada law makes it a crime to carry graffiti in certain locations if the carrier intends to use the graffiti to deface another's property.14 These prohibited locations include:

  • On or under any overpass or bridge or in any flood channel; OR
  • At any public facility, community center, park, playground, swimming pool, transportation facility, beach or recreational area whereon a sign is posted in a location reasonably expected to be viewed by the public which states that it is a misdemeanor to possess a graffiti implement at that public location without valid authorization; or
  • In a public transportation vehicle wherein a sign is posted that is easily viewed by passengers which states that it is a misdemeanor to possess a graffiti implement in the vehicle without valid authorization.15

Note that this law applies even if the person never gets around to using the graffiti instruments or if no damage is done. Merely having intent to tag is enough to sustain a conviction in Nevada.16

Also note that this law applies only if the person is physically carrying graffiti materials on his/her person. Examples include carrying a graffiti can in a backpack or holding it in one's hand. But keeping tagging implements in a car trunk is no crime.17

2. Defenses to Nevada Graffiti Charges

How best to fight graffiti charges in Nevada depends on the specifics of the case. The following are three of the more typical defenses to NRS 206.330 violations.

  1. Mistaken identification. Tagging often occurs very quickly and in the cover of night. Therefore it may be difficult for any spectators to get a clear view of the perpetrator. If the defense attorney can show that conditions made it impossible for witnesses to give a reliable identification, the prosecution's case will be weakened.
  2. Owner's consent. Making graffiti on another's property is legal if the property owner consented to it.18 If the defense attorney can show that the owner did consent…or that the defendant had every reason to believe that the owner consented…then the prosecution may dismiss the tagging charges.
  3. First Amendment. In some cases, it may be possible to get graffiti charges dropped on constitutional grounds such as free speech. Organizations such as the Graffiti Defense Coalition work to elevate the public perception of street artists and increase awareness about the significance of a community of public self-expression.
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Common defenses to graffiti charges are false allegations, consent, and freedom of speech.

3. Graffiti Penalties in Nevada

Typical punishments for violating NRS 206.330 include fines, community service, restitution, driver's license suspension, and possibly jail.19 The severity of the punishment depends on four factors:

  1. The extent of the damage; AND
  2. Whether the defendant has previous graffiti convictions; AND
  3. Whether the graffiti impaired public communication, transportation or police and fire protection; AND
  4. Whether the property defaced is a “protected” historical site.20
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Graffiti convictions carry fines, possibly jail, community service, restitution, and driver's license suspension.

3.1. The Extent of Damage in Nevada Graffiti Crimes

The cost of repairing, restoring, or replacing property damaged by graffiti determines the punishment in Nevada.21 The greater the damage, the greater the sentence:

Amount of Damage Class of Crime Length of Incarceration
Less than $250 Misdemeanor in Nevada Up to 6 months in jail
$250 to less than $5,000 Gross misdemeanor in Nevada Up to 364 days in jail
$5,000 or higher Category E felony in Nevada 1 - 4 years in Nevada State Prison. However the judge may impose probation in lieu prison, but the defendant still must serve at least 10 days in jail.

Note that committing several acts of graffiti may be prosecuted as just one criminal count if the acts were part of one overall vandalism scheme.22Henderson criminal defense attorney Neil Shouse illustrates how this rule works:

Example: Tom goes on graffiti rampage throughout Henderson in one night. He paints the same symbol on ten different locations. A cop with the Henderson Police Department arrests him and books him at the Henderson Detention Center for graffiti. Prosecutors calculate that Tom caused $100 worth of damage at each location. Therefore, Tom caused $1,000 worth of damage total.
Prosecutors believe Tom's ten acts of graffiti were related because they happened on the same night and he tagged the same symbol at each location. Consequently, prosecutors charge Tom with one count of graffiti as a gross misdemeanor. (Tom's $1,000 worth of damage falls in the gross misdemeanor range of $250 to up to $5,000.)

The outcome might be different if Tom in the above example committed the ten acts of graffiti on separate occasions and painted different things. In that case, prosecutors would probably figure that the ten graffiti acts were unrelated. And since Tom caused only $100 at each location, he would face ten separate misdemeanor graffiti charges instead of one gross misdemeanor graffiti charge.

Note that a person with two previous graffiti convictions...or with one previous felony graffiti conviction...will be prosecuted for a category D felony in Nevada for any subsequent graffiti charge. It does not matter if the damage was minimal. This carries 1 - 4 years in Nevada State Prison and possibly up to $5,000 in fines.

Also note it is a separate misdemeanor for a defendant to carry a graffiti implement with the intent to vandalize, place graffiti on or otherwise deface public or private property, real or personal, of another:

  • while on or under any overpass or bridge or in any flood channel; or
  • at any public facility, community center, park, playground, swimming pool, transportation facility, beach or recreational area whereon a sign is posted in a location reasonably expected to be viewed by the public which states that it is a misdemeanor to possess a graffiti implement at that public location without valid authorization; or
  • In a public transportation vehicle wherein a sign is posted that is easily viewed by passengers which states that it is a misdemeanor to possess a graffiti implement in the vehicle without valid authorization.

The sentence is up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. (NRS 206.335)

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Defendants face harsher punishments with each successive graffiti conviction in Nevada.

3.2. Previous Convictions in Nevada Graffiti Crimes

Nevada graffiti offenses carry mandatory fines and community service sentences.23 The amount of the fines and community service depends on the number of the defendant's previous tagging convictions (if any):

Previous graffiti convictions Fine Community Service
None $400 - $1,000 plus a $250 administrative assessment fee 100 hours
One $700 - $1,000 plus a $250 administrative assessment fee 200 hours
Two or more $1,000 plus a $250 administrative assessment fee Up to 300 hours for 1 year. The court may also order the defendant to repair, replace, clean up, or keep free of graffiti the property damaged in the case or another specified property.

Note that the community service typically involves washing off graffiti.24 Nevada courts may also order defendants to pay the victim restitution in Nevada 25 and to attend counseling.26 Also note that parents or legal guardians of a minor (under 18) who violates NRS 206.330 are liable to pay the fines.27

3.3. Impairing Public Utilities in Nevada Graffiti Crimes

An act of graffiti that impairs the use of public communication, transportation, or police and fire protection, is an automatic category E felony.28 The sentence is 1 to 4 years in prison and maybe up to $5,000 in fines. If the judge imposes probation instead of prison, the defendant is still required to serve up to 10 days in jail.29

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Nevada courts impose more stringent sentences when graffiti compromises public utilities or defaces historic sites.

3.4. Putting Graffiti on Nevada Historic Sites

It is a category D felony in Nevada to put graffiti on any “protected site” in Nevada.30 Protected sites include any of the following places:

  • Any site, landmark, monument, building or structure of historical significance pertaining to the history of the settlement of Nevada; OR
  • Any site, building, structure, object or district listed in the register of historic resources of a community which is recognized as a Certified Local Government pursuant to the Certified Local Government Program jointly administered by the National Park Service and the Office of Historic Preservation of the State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; OR
  • Any site, building, structure, object or district listed in the State Register of Historic Places pursuant to NRS 383.085 or the National Register of Historic Places; OR
  • Any site, building, structure, object or district that is more than 50 years old and is located in a municipal or state park; OR
  • Any Indian campgrounds, shelters, petroglyphs, pictographs and burials; OR
  • Any archeological or paleontological site, ruin, deposit, fossilized footprints and other impressions, petroglyphs and pictographs, habitation caves, rock shelters, natural caves, burial ground or sites of religious or cultural importance to an Indian tribe.31

The punishment for defacing a protected site includes 1 to 4 years in prison and maybe a fine of up to $5,000. Note that defendants eligible for probation in lieu of prison will still have to serve at least 10 days in jail.32

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People convicted of tagging in Nevada have their driver's licenses suspended for up to 2 years.

3.5 Driver's License Suspension in Nevada Graffiti Cases

Adults (18 or older) convicted of graffiti will have their Nevada driver's licenses suspended for 6 months to 2 years. If the defendant does not currently hold a driver's license, then he/she will be unable to apply for one for 6 months to 2 years.33 Note that car insurance companies may not penalize people for having NRS 206.330 convictions.34

3.6 Extra Prison for Gang Graffiti in Nevada

If a defendant is convicted of felony graffiti as part of a gang activity, the judge may as much as double the defendant's prison sentence. North Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Michael Becker gives an example:

Example: Zack is a member of a gang in North Las Vegas. As part of his initiation, Zack puts graffiti on ten cop cars. An officer with the North Las Vegas Police Department arrests Zack and books him at the North Las Vegas Detention Center for felony graffiti since he caused over $5,000 worth of damage.
Zack gets convicted of felony graffiti and is given a prison sentence of 2 years. Since the graffiti was related to gangs, the judge then will sentence Zack to an additional penalty of 1 to 2.

Note that an extra prison sentence for gang activities may not be any longer than the defendant's underlying prison sentence for felony graffiti.35 So if Zack in the above example is sentenced to 1 year in prison for tagging, then the judge can order only an additional 1 in prison for the gang affiliation.

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Gang-related tagging carries extra prison time.

3.7 Juveniles and Graffiti Crimes in Nevada

Minors (under 18) who are adjudicated delinquent of graffiti face community service, fines, restitution payments, and probation. Their driver's licenses will be suspended for 1 to 2 years. And if they do not have driver's licenses, they may not receive one for another 1 to 2 years.36 Learn more about the criminal defense of juveniles in Nevada.

3.8 Civil Penalties

Defendants charged with Nevada tagging offenses also face civil suits from the owners of the damaged property.37 The court may award the following money damages:

  • Up to three times the loss in value to the property; and
  • Up to three times the cost of restoring the property.

The defendant may also be ordered to pay attorney's fees and costs. Parents or legal guardians of child defendants are liable to pay these damages.38

Accused of graffiti offenses in Nevada? Call an attorney for help…

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Call us at 702-DEFENSE

If you have been charged with graffiti or defacement in Nevada, phone our Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free phone meeting. We will do our all to try to negotiate and litigate a favorable end to your case. We may be able to get the charges reduced or even dismissed so your record stays clean.

We represent clients throughout Nevada, including Las Vegas, Henderson, Washoe County, Reno, Clark County, Carson City, Laughlin, Mesquite, Bunkerville, Moapa, Elko, Pahrump, Searchlight and Tonopah.

For information on California Vandalism Laws | Penal Code 594 PC, see our article on California Vandalism Laws | Penal Code 594 PC.

Legal References:


1 206.330. Placing graffiti on or otherwise defacing property: Fines and penalties; restitution; parent or guardian responsible for fines and penalties if person violating section is under age of 18 years; suspension of driver's license.

1. Unless a greater criminal penalty is provided by a specific statute, a person who places graffiti on or otherwise defaces the public or private property, real or personal, of another, without the permission of the owner:

  1. Where the value of the loss is less than $250, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
  2. Where the value of the loss is $250 or more but less than $5,000, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
  3. Where the value of the loss is $5,000 or more or where the damage results in the impairment of public communication, transportation or police and fire protection, is guilty of a category E felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130. If the court grants probation to such a person, the court shall require as a condition of probation that the person serve at least 10 days in the county jail.
  4. Where the offense is committed on any protected site in this State, is guilty of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130. If the court grants probation to such a person, the court shall require as a condition of probation that the person serve at least 10 days in the county jail.

2. If a person commits more than one offense pursuant to a scheme or continuing course of conduct, the value of all property damaged or destroyed by that person in the commission of those offenses must be aggregated for the purpose of determining the penalty prescribed in subsection 1, but only if the value of the loss when aggregated is $500 or more.

3. A person who violates subsection 1 shall, in addition to any other fine or penalty imposed:

  1. For the first offense, pay a fine of not less than $400 but not more than $1,000 and perform 100 hours of community service.
  2. For the second offense, pay a fine of not less than $750 but not more than $1,000 and perform 200 hours of community service.
  3. For the third and each subsequent offense: (1) Pay a fine of $1,000; and (2) Perform up to 300 hours of community service for up to 1 year, as determined by the court. The court may order the person to repair, replace, clean up or keep free of graffiti the property damaged or destroyed by the person or, if it is not practicable for the person to repair, replace, clean up or keep free of graffiti that specific property, the court may order the person to repair, replace, clean up or keep free of graffiti another specified property. The community service assigned pursuant to this subsection must, if possible, be related to the abatement of graffiti.

4. The court may, in addition to any other fine or penalty imposed, order a person who violates subsection 1 to pay restitution.

5. The parent or legal guardian of a person under 18 years of age who violates this section is liable for all fines and penalties imposed against the person. If the parent or legal guardian is unable to pay the fine and penalties resulting from a violation of this section because of financial hardship, the court may require the parent or legal guardian to perform community service.

6. If a person who is 18 years of age or older is found guilty of violating this section, the court shall, in addition to any other penalty imposed, issue an order suspending the driver's license of the person for not less than 6 months but not more than 2 years. The court shall require the person to surrender all driver's licenses then held by the person. If the person does not possess a driver's license, the court shall issue an order prohibiting the person from applying for a driver's license for not less than 6 months but not more than 2 years. The court shall, within 5 days after issuing the order, forward to the Department of Motor Vehicles any licenses together with a copy of the order.

7. The Department of Motor Vehicles:

  1. Shall not treat a violation of this section in the manner statutorily required for a moving traffic violation.
  2. Shall report the suspension of a driver's license pursuant to this section to an insurance company or its agent inquiring about the person's driving record. An insurance company shall not use any information obtained pursuant to this paragraph for purposes related to establishing premium rates or determining whether to underwrite the insurance.

8. A criminal penalty imposed pursuant to this section is in addition to any civil penalty or other remedy available pursuant to this section or another statute for the same conduct.

9. As used in this section:

    1. “Impairment” means the disruption of ordinary and incidental services, the temporary loss of use or the removal of the property from service for repair of damage.
    2. “Protected site” means:
(1) Any site, landmark, monument, building or structure of historical significance pertaining to the history of the settlement of Nevada;
(2) Any site, building, structure, object or district listed in the register of historic resources of a community which is recognized as a Certified Local Government pursuant to the Certified Local Government Program jointly administered by the National Park Service and the Office of Historic Preservation of the State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources;
(3) Any site, building, structure, object or district listed in the State Register of Historic Places pursuant to NRS 383.085 or the National Register of Historic Places;
(4) Any site, building, structure, object or district that is more than 50 years old and is located in a municipal or state park;
(5) Any Indian campgrounds, shelters, petroglyphs, pictographs and burials; or
(6) Any archeological or paleontological site, ruin, deposit, fossilized footprints and other impressions, petroglyphs and pictographs, habitation caves, rock shelters, natural caves, burial ground or sites of religious or cultural importance to an Indian tribe.
  1. “Value of the loss” means the cost of repairing, restoring or replacing the property, including, without limitation, the cost of any materials and labor necessary to repair, restore or replace the item.

2NRS 206.335 Carrying graffiti implement at certain locations with intent to vandalize, place graffiti on or deface property.

1. Any person who carries on his or her person a graffiti implement with the intent to vandalize, place graffiti on or otherwise deface public or private property, real or personal, of another:

  1. While on or under any overpass or bridge or in any flood channel;
  2. At any public facility, community center, park, playground, swimming pool, transportation facility, beach or recreational area whereon a sign is posted in a location reasonably expected to be viewed by the public which states that it is a misdemeanor to possess a graffiti implement at that public location without valid authorization; or
  3. In a public transportation vehicle wherein a sign is posted that is easily viewed by passengers which states that it is a misdemeanor to possess a graffiti implement in the vehicle without valid authorization, is guilty of a misdemeanor unless the person has first received valid authorization from the governmental entity which has jurisdiction over the public area or other person who is designated to provide such authorization.

2. As used in this section:

  1. “Broad-tipped indelible marker” means any felt-tipped marker or similar implement which contains a fluid that is not soluble in water and which has a flat or angled writing surface of a width of one-half inch or greater.
  2. “Graffiti implement” means any broad-tipped indelible marker or aerosol paint container or other item that may be used to propel or apply fluid that is not soluble in water.
  3. “Public transportation vehicle” means a bus, train or other vehicle or instrumentality used to transport persons from a transportation facility to another location.
  4. “Transportation facility” means an airport, marina, bus terminal, train station, bus stop or other facility where a person may go to obtain transportation.

3 NRS 206.330(3); NRS 206.330(6); NRS 206.340(2).

4 NRS 206.330(3).

5 NRS 206.330(6).

6 NRS 206.330(1).

7 NRS 206.330(1)(d).

8 NRS 206.005.

9Sidewalk chalk could land four protestors in jail for a year, Francis McCabe Las Vegas Review-Journal (August 19, 2013).

10 206.330.

11 NRS 206.340. (These rewards are funded in part by the administrative assessment fees paid by past graffiti offenders in Nevada.)

12 NRS 206.310 Injury to other property. Every person who shall willfully or maliciously destroy or injure any real or personal property of another, for the destruction or injury of which no special punishment is otherwise specially prescribed, shall be guilty of a public offense proportionate to the value of the property affected or the loss resulting from such offense.

13 NRS 193.168.

14 NRS 206.335.

15Id.

16Id.

17Id.

18 NRS 206.330(1).

19Id.

20Id.

21Id.

22 NRS 206.330(2).

23 NRS 206.330(3).

24Id.

25 NRS 206.330(4).

26 NRS 206.345.

27 NRS 206.330(5).

28 NRS 206.330(1)(c).

29 NRS 206.330(1)(c).

30 NRS 206.330(1)(d); NRS 206.330(9)(b).

31 Nev. SB 237 (2013).

32 NRS 206.330(1)(d).

33 NRS 206.330(6).

34 NRS 206.330(7).

35 NRS 193.168.

36 NRS 62E.690.

37 NRS 206.330(8).

38 NRS 206.345

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