New York Graffiti Charges

New York Graffiti charges are frequently prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Offices across New York State. These criminal provisions were passed in 1992 in an effort to address the rising incidents of graffiti making. These charges prohibit painting, covering, drawing, stickering, or otherwise placing any marks on someone else’s property within the express permission of the owner of the property. These charges can result in a criminal conviction, as well as community service, a fine, restitution for damaged property. Although there are no statistics available for how many Graffiti cases were prosecuted in New York State, it is estimated that 14,236 graffiti sites were cleaned in 2019 in New York City alone.

Making Graffiti (PL 145.60)

Under New York Penal Law Section 145.60, a person is guilty of Making Graffiti when:

  1. He or she makes graffiti of any type;
  2. On any type on any building, public or private, or any other property real or personal owned by any person, firm or corporation or any public agency or instrumentality,
  3. Without the express permission of the owner or operator of said property.

What is the Legal Definition of Graffiti Under New York Law?

For New York Graffiti Charges, “Graffiti” means any etching, painting, covering, drawing upon or otherwise placing of a mark upon public or private property with intent to damage such property.

Sentencing and Penalties for New York Graffiti Charge

New York Making Graffiti is a Class “A” misdemeanor. As such, this charge can be punishable by up to 1 year in prison or 3 years probation. Practically speaking, although this charge may result in prison time, usually these types of cases are resolved without any jail time. However, there may be a fine, restitution, or community service as part of a resolution of these New York Graffiti charges. Additionally, you may be required to participate in a graffiti removal program.

Possession of Graffiti Instruments (PL 145.65)

Possessing any tool or instrument used to make graffiti is a separate crime under New York Penal Law. This charge is called Possession of Graffiti Instruments, which is codified in New York Penal Law 145.65.

Under New York Law, a person is guilty of Possession of Graffiti Instruments when he or she possesses any tool, instrument, article, substance, solution or other compound designed or commonly used to etch, paint, cover, draw upon or otherwise place a mark upon a piece of property which that person has no permission or authority to etch, paint, cover, draw upon or otherwise mark, under circumstances evincing an intent to use same in order to damage such property.

Sentencing and Penalties for Possession of Graffiti Instruments (PL 145.65)

Under New York Law, Possession of Graffiti Instruments is a Class “B” misdemeanor. As such, this charge is punishable by up to 90 days in prison. Usually, this New York Graffiti charge will be resolved without any jail time. You may, however, be required to pay a fine or restitution, and/or do some community service. Furthermore, you may be required to participate in a graffiti removal program.

Potential Defense to New York Graffiti Charges: No Intent to Deface

A potential defense to New York Graffiti charges is lack of intent to deface. Rather, if the intent of the graffiti is to convey a political, social, or artistic message AND the damage to private or public property is minimal, then the prosecution of these New York Graffiti Charges may be unwarranted. For example in People v. Thomas, 47 Misc. 3d 473 (2014), the Court dismissed a Graffiti Charge involving a spray-painted fairy on a public side walk in front of an elementary school.

Contact Top Rated New York Graffiti Charges Attorney

]\If you have been arrested and charged with New York Graffiti charges, you need experienced criminal counsel by your side. Contact us today to schedule a consultation regarding your case.