Making Graffiti: New York Penal Law 145.60

When it comes to graffiti crimes in New York, whether charged with Making Graffiti alone or with other offenses, criminal lawyers are routinely asked the same types of questions. Is making graffiti a crime in New York? Does it matter if your graffiti is artistic or made with permanent marker, paint or something that will wash away? If you make illegal graffiti, is it a felony or misdemeanor? What is the penalty for graffiti? Because the damage caused by graffiti can impact the crime you are ultimately arrested for and charged with, whether it is New York Penal Law 145.60 alone or in conjunction with other offenses, the questions as to whether graffiti making is prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor and the punishment and penalty for that conviction depends on many factors. Addressed in part here, discuss the elements of Making Graffiti and other crimes with your criminal defense attorney or graffiti defense lawyer.

The New York criminal code has specific graffiti crimes. Two of these misdemeanor offenses are Making Graffiti, New York Penal Law 145.60, and Possession of Graffiti Instruments 145.65. Another common charge is Criminal Mischief pursuant to New York Penal Law Article 145.00. This latter offense of Criminal Mischief is not a graffiti specific offense, but a crime involving illegally damaging property that starts a misdemeanor but elevates to a felony if the damage exceeds $250.

Making Graffiti: The Vandal’s Squad

Solely addressing the crime of Making Graffiti, PL 145.60, know that this offense is aggressively and proactively investigated and targeted by detectives and police officers with the NYPD’s City-Wide Vandal’s Task Force, aka, the Vandal’s Squad. Whether you are arrested by a “regular” police officer not part of the Vandal’s Squad or one of these detectives, if it is believed that you have a “tag,” the Vandal’s Squad will follow up. Simply, whether you are still in custody awaiting a Desk Appearance Ticket, you’ve been taken “downtown” in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Queens, or you have already seen the judge and have counsel, do not make admissions to law enforcement. If you fail to ask for counsel, whatever you say will be used against you and the Vandal’s Squad will turn around and charge you with every location you tagged to the best of their ability.

Making Graffiti: Understanding NY Penal Law 145.60

New York Penal Law 145.60(1) defines “graffiti” as an etching, painting, covering or drawing upon or otherwise placing of a mark upon public or private property with intent to damage that property. The crime of Making Graffiti is actually codified in New York Penal Law 145.60(2). As such, you are guilty of PL 145.60(2) if you make graffiti of any type on any property, real or personal, without permission of the owner or operator. Is jail a possible sentence if you are convicted of PL 145.60? The short answer is yes. In fact, you could find yourself sitting in a jail cell on Rikers Island (in NYC) for as long as one year. In addition to restitution, a judge could sentence you to up to three years probation, community service and hit your wallet further with fines.

Making Graffiti: A Word to the Wise

If you are arrested for Making Graffiti, PL 145.60, and the Vandal’s Squad believes you have a tagging “problem” they can be relentless. To close out cases throughout New York City, they often will ask you to admit to your tag with a promise you will be only charged with a misdemeanor on a Desk Appearance Ticket and they will allow you to come back in later to be printed and charged for other alleged incidents or locations. While the police should not be faulted for doing their job, and one that we all benefit from and should be grateful for, they are entitled to bend the truth a bit. To that end, they may even promise not to charge you with a felony or process you through Central Booking. While every case is unique, it is likely there was no felony that would stick unless they could charge you with a higher crime of Criminal Mischief.

Be smart. Exercise your right to remain silent. Don’t give the police the information they need to charge you with multiple crimes. Ultimately, should it be in your best interest to speak to them or the District Attorney, you and your vandalism lawyer or graffiti defense attorney can make that determination and do so in a manner that still protects your rights.

The New York criminal lawyers at Crotty Saland PC are ready to use their vast knowledge, experience and advocacy to defend you against an arrest for Making Graffiti, Criminal Mischief and Possession of Graffiti Instruments. Now your future is in your hands. Take the steps to secure the best defense you can.

Call our New York graffiti crime lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.