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Vandalize a National Park, Go to Jail

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Our national parks are among our greatest treasures. Yet, too many people recklessly, arrogantly, and maliciously deface the federal property.

If you ever consider signing your name or drawing a little doodle on the wall of the Grand Canyon, just know that it's a federal crime.

Graffiti Art Is a Crime in National Parks

Last year, graffiti artist Casey Nocket, going by the Instagram handle Creepytings, defaced the natural beauty of 10 national parks with her paintings.

Nocket had the bright idea of painting her art at national parks, and then boasting about her works on Instagram and Facebook. The trail of social media posts showed graffiti drawings at Crater Lake, Death Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Yosemite, and Joshua Tree national parks.

The National Park Service investigated Nocket and her graffiti, but it is unclear whether or not she was charged with any crime.

Under the Code of Federal Regulations, it is prohibited to destroy, injure, deface, or damage national park property. Vandalism of national parks is a federal misdemeanor, and is punishable by three to six months in prison and as much as a $500 fine.

Destroying Nature Can Be a Serious Offense

In another case, two former Boy Scouts leaders destroyed a 20 million year old rock formation at Goblin Valley State Park in Utah.

Goblin Valley State Park is filled with mushroom like rock formations created by millions of years of wind and water erosions. In less than 10 seconds, David Benjamin Hall, filmed by his friend Glen Tuck Taylor, destroyed 20 million years of history when he pushed the rock formation over. Hall claims he did it to protect unsuspecting tourist because his uncle was killed by a falling boulder.

Regardless, it was not up to Hall to alter the natural state of the formation. Video of the destruction drew outrage and even death threats. While neither men were killed, both Hall and Taylor were charged with third-degree felony mischief.

If convicted, the men could have been sentenced to up to five years in prison. Instead, the men avoided prison by agreeing to probation and to pay restitution in a plea deal.

Next time you go on a nature hike, don't try to improve nature's beauty. If caught vandalizing a national park and charged with a crime, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney for help.

Editor's Note, July 14, 2015: This article has been edited to address the typo concerning the vandalism case of Casey Nocket, wrongly attributed to blogger Casey Schreiner.

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