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Possession of Graffiti Instruments: NY Penal Law 140.65

A class “B” misdemeanor, Possession of Graffiti Instruments, is a vandalism based crime with a potential punishment and penalty of three months jail. That said, what is New York Penal Law 140.65 and what does it mean to have “graffiti instruments?” For that matter, what is a “graffiti instrument?” Do I have to be accused of or arrested for Making Graffiti, New York Penal Law 140.60, in order for the police to arrest me and prosecutors to charge me with PL 140.65? Reasonable questions that a graffiti defense lawyer or criminal defense attorney experienced in graffiti and vandalism based crimes can answer, even before your consultation on your arrest take a moment to educate yourself on the New York criminal law.

Before explaining the criminal code as it relates to Graffiti Instruments, know that you do not need to be charged with or arrested for Making Graffiti as a perquisite to PL 140.65. While Possession of Graffiti Instruments is routinely charged alongside Making Graffiti on a criminal court complaint, the crimes can stand on their own respective “feet.”

According to PL 140.65, you are guilty of Possession of Graffiti Instruments if you possess 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 you have 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. Whew…that was a long definition, but one that should be fairly clear. If you have a paint brush, an acidic solution, indelible markers or other tools or objects that fit this description and prosecutors can establish the necessary intent, the District Attorney can charge this crime.

Without overstating, keep in mind that if you are not caught in the act of vandalism or graffiti making, or the Vandals Squad of the NYPD or other police department cannot build a circumstantial case, then it could very well be that Possession of Graffiti Instruments is the only crime you face. However, if you are arrested in the act of tagging a mailbox, building or subway, PL 140.65 is likely the least of your worries as the police will also arrest you for Making Graffiti, PL 140.60, and some degree of Criminal Mischief pursuant to New York Penal Law Article 145. Keep in mind, if prosecutors really want to hold you accountable and you cause damage in excess of $250, you can find yourself in front of a criminal court judge charged with felony Third Degree Criminal Mischief, New York Penal Law 145.05.

  • Understanding New York City Desk Appearance Tickets and DAT Arrests

Regardless of whether or not you face the crime of Possession of Graffiti Instruments alone on a Desk Appearance Ticket or as one charge in a larger vandalism type arrest, remember that your admissions and apologies can be used against you in this case or a larger graffiti investigation. Remain rational and calm, respectful and observant, but do not hesitate to exercise your legal rights. How you conduct yourself in that fearful moment of your arrest and the minutes and hours afterwards, can alter the trajectory of your criminal case from standing close to the precipice to tumbling off into the abyss of the criminal justice system.

Let experience, knowledge and advocacy be your strongest defense. The New York criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors are ready to assist you.

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

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