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Criminal Mischief and Graffiti

Criminal Mischief and Graffiti

Manhattan Property Crimes Defense Attorney

The act of damaging property that belongs to another person is known in the New York Penal Code as "Criminal Mischief." If you find yourself under arrest for criminal mischief, Our Manhattan property crimes defense lawyer can help. Call us today at (212) 577-9328 to arrange a free consultation.

New York Degrees of Criminal Mischief

The degree of Criminal Mischief that a person commits depends on several factors. The most important factor is the cost to repair the damage. For example, if a person intentionally destroys someone's computer and the damage is worth $200, then they are guilty of Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree. However, if it is worth $300, then they committed Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree.

The most basic form of Criminal Mischief is Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree, which is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. A person commits Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree in one of four ways:

  • When he or she intentionally damages the property of another person
  • When a person intentionally participated in the destruction of an "abandoned building"
  • When they recklessly cause damage to property in excess of $250
  • When a person intentionally disables communications equipment which another person is trying to use to contact emergency services. An example of this occurs when a criminal takes a victim's cell phone and breaks it so she can't call 911.

In all examples of Criminal Mischief, there is a legal requirement that the person did not have the right to destroy the property, nor did he have reasonable grounds to conclude that he had such a right.

  • If the person intentionally damages the property that belongs to another and the value of the property damage is in excess of $250, then the person is guilty of Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree. This is a class E felony which is punishable by up to 4 years in jail.
  • If the value of the property is in excess of $1,500, then the person is guilty of Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree. This is a class D felony which is punishable by up to 7 years in jail.
  • If the person uses an explosive to damage the property, then he or she is guilty of Criminal Mischief in the First Degree. This is a class B felony which is punishable by up to 25 years in jail.

Graffiti Laws

With regard to anti-graffiti laws, it should come as no surprise that it is a crime to make "graffiti" in New York. In addition, to anti-graffiti laws, it is also a crime to possess a "graffiti instrument." The problem is that the graffiti statute is written rather vaguely. This means that many innocent people find themselves charged with this crime.

Pursuant to New York Penal Code Section 145.60, it is a class A misdemeanor when a person: etches, paints, covers, draws upon, or otherwise places a mark upon public or private property with the intent to damage the property. A person convicted of this crime may be sentenced to up to one year in jail if convicted of this crime.

There are many defenses to both Criminal Mischief and Graffiti crimes. An experienced Manhattan property crimes defense attorney can help. Contact John Buza today to schedule a free consultation.

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