How to Handle Graffiti Charges in NYC
Although graffiti is part of NYC’s culture, you can still be arrested and face graffiti charges for making graffiti.
Making graffiti is a crime in New York, and you can get a criminal record if convicted. However, an experienced NYC criminal lawyer can work to get your graffiti charges reduced or outright dismissed.
This guide discusses how your case will likely unfold if you face graffiti charges in NYC.
What is a Graffiti Charge?
If you are arrested for making graffiti, you will be charged with “Making Graffiti” under New York Penal Law § 145.60(2).
New York defines graffiti as: etching, painting, covering, drawing upon or otherwise placing of a mark upon public or private property with intent to damage such property.
Not all graffiti is illegal. For instance, you could make graffiti—as defined above—but you are the owner of the damaged property. Or, you could have permission of the property’s owner to damage the property.
To be guilty the charge Marking Graffiti, you must have made graffiti of 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, without the express permission of the owner or operator of said property.
Making Graffiti is a Class A Midemeanor, which is a crime. If you are convicted of Making Graffiti, you will get a permanent criminal record.
Luckily, as discussed below, there are many ways you may be able to get your case dismissed.
What Will Happen If I Am Facing Graffiti Charges?
If you were arrested for Making Graffiti, you probably received a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT). A DAT orders you to appear in Criminal Court on a later date.
Although you may think that you don’t need to retain a lawyer for a DAT, hiring a lawyer for a Desk Appearance Ticket may give you certain advantages when you appear in court. Ultimately, because Making Graffiti is a crime, the court will require you to have an attorney. You can retain a lawyer to prepare for your court appearance, or the court will appoint a public defender at your first court date.
At your first court appearance, your lawyer might be able to convince the District Attorney’s Office to reduce or drop your charges. If not, your case will be adjourned for you to fight the case, could include motions to dismiss and trial.
How Do You Defend Against Graffiti Charges?
The most common defense to Making Graffiti are that you did not intend to damage the property. This defense can happen in several ways.
This defense can be used if the object used to draw on the property was not permanent. For instance, if you were drawing with chalk, then the markings would easily wash away. In that instance, the prosecution could not prove that you intended to damage the property. This defense could apply to other writing materials are not permanent.
Another example would be if you wrote on an object that was discarded. In that case, a skilled defense attorney could present an argument that you did not damage the property, since it was already trash.
Every case is unique, so if you are facing graffiti charges, contact an criminal lawyer who can evaluate all possible defenses.
What Are the Common Outcomes for Graffiti Charges?
Even if you are guilty, you can likely get your charges reduced or completely dismissed if you agree to pay to get the damaged property fixed. Depending on the property, the repair could be very cheap or very expensive. Your lawyer can make sure the requested money is appropriate to complete the repair.
If the graffiti was made with a non-permanent material, then odds are that the repair should be inexpensive, because it should be easy to remove the markings from the property.
Ultimately, you always have the right to trial. If the prosecution does not make you a reasonable offer to resolve your case and you have a strong defense, you can go to trial to show the jury that you are not guilty. Trials are rare, though, and odds are much greater that your lawyer will be able to quickly get your charges dropped once the property is repaired
Need Help with Graffiti Charges? Contact Cody Warner, P.C.
If you are facing graffiti charges, contact Cody Warner, P.C. today. We are experienced with handling graffiti charges and can work to get your charges dropped as soon as possible.