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How does New York law address the making of graffiti?

Most people in New York have seen buildings and other pieces of property "tagged" with graffiti. Making graffiti may not seem like a very serious crime. However, even this seemingly minor property crime can have lasting consequences on a person's life.

Under New York Penal Law §145.60, it is illegal for a person to make graffiti on any building or real property, unless they have the property owner's permission. Etchings, paintings, drawings, coverings or any other marks made on property with the intention of damaging that property constitute graffiti for the purposes of this statute.

So, while it may seem like this law is rather straightforward, there are nuances to look for when formulating a defense against graffiti charges. For example, one might argue that the property owner allowed the accused to make a mark through any number of means on the property owner's property. Or, a person may have made a mark unintentionally on a piece of property. In these situations, a person can argue they should not be convicted of making graffiti.

While making graffiti is only a misdemeanor crime, it is still important to take these criminal charges seriously. Even misdemeanors can end up on a person's criminal record. This means that an employer, lender or anyone else who performs a background check on that person will be able to see that they were convicted of committing a misdemeanor crime. Therefore, even if a person is convicted of making graffiti as a young adult, years later they could still find that the conviction is affecting their personal and professional life. Therefore, it is important to take a strong stance against such charges.

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