Parents Could Pay up to $5,000 if their Kid is Caught Tagging - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Parents Could Pay up to $5,000 if their Kid is Caught Tagging

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If police, homeowners or business owners can prove that a particular kid is responsible for the graffiti, then their parents could pay up to $5,000 depending on damages. If police, homeowners or business owners can prove that a particular kid is responsible for the graffiti, then their parents could pay up to $5,000 depending on damages.

YAKIMA, WA - Did you know if your kid is caught red-handed tagging someone's property in Yakima County, you could end up paying a massive fine?

If police, homeowners or business owners can prove that a particular kid is responsible for the graffiti, then their parents could pay up to $5,000 depending on damages.

Court administrators said this doesn't happen too often, and a big reason why is because people in the community don't realize this is a way to get back their losses.

If a young teen gets caught spraying for the first time, they're typically given a second chance to stay out of the legal system.

"They're still held accountable," said Robyn Berndt, a Yakima County Court Administrator. "They have to sign a contract, they get community service and other services as well depending on their need. And if they complete everything then they're finished."

However, if their name pops up in the system after getting caught tagging for a second time, they'll wind up in court.

"A prosecutor can decide to charge them, and they end up in the court process," said Berndt. "Usually if they're found guilty,  they end up on probation."

Court administrators said probation typically lasts six to 12 months. During this time, offenders complete community service and are sometimes ordered to go to school.

While kids are paying for their consequences, some of their parents are literally shelling out thousands of dollars to clean up the damage.

"So the child might go through the criminal court process, but the parents could possibly end up with a lawsuit," said Berndt.

Over the past several years, the number of kids facing third degree charges of malicious mischief graffiti have dropped. According to numbers court administrators had on hand, in 2011, around 54 kids faced graffiti charges.

This went down to around 39 in 2012, and in 2013, roughly 27 kids were in court for tagging.

Court administrators said a program called "Restorative Community Service" seems to be doing wonders. In this program, kids caught tagging go out with adult volunteers to clean up the graffiti. Volunteers try to instill a sense of community pride so young taggers won't keep offending.

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