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NY Penal Law § 145.26: Aggravated Cemetery Desecration in the Second Degree

Cemetery desecration is a crime that involves stealing from or vandalizing a cemetery plot, grave, burial place or other place of interment of human remains. While there are several ways of vandalizing a burial place such as toppling them over or in some other way damages headstones, actually disturbing a corpse is considered a much more serious crime. Under New York Penal Law § 145.26, you could be prosecuted for aggravated cemetery desecration in the second degree if you:

  • Open a casket or crypt containing human remains, and
  • Remove a body or body from the casket or crypt.

On Halloween night, as a prank, Tim, Tom and Tobias went to an old cemetery and dug up a grave. They even went as far as opening the casket. At first they were frightened by seeing the human remains in the casket. Then they thought it would be funny to take the skull and scare some of their other friends. All three men could be charged with aggravated cemetery desecration in the second degree. None of them had the authority to dig up the grave, open the casket, or remove the human remains.

Related Offenses
  1. Trespass: New York Penal Law § 140.05
  2. Cemetery desecration in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 145.23
  3. Cemetery desecration in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 145.22
  4. Aggravated cemetery desecration in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 140.27

To be convicted of aggravated cemetery desecration in the second degree, the prosecutor must prove not only that you open the casket for crypt, but that you also removed human remains. If the prosecutor cannot prove, for example, that you removed human remains, then you would not have committed aggravated cemetery desecration it the second degree.


Aggravated cemetery desecration is a class E felony. As such, if you are convicted of this crime your sentence may include up to 4 years in prison, 5 years of probation, a fine and restitution.

New York Penal Law § 145.26: Aggravated Cemetery Desecration in the Second Degree

A person is guilty of aggravated cemetery desecration in the second degree when, having no right to do so nor any reasonable ground to believe that he or she has such right, he or she opens a casket, crypt, or similar vessel containing a human body or human remains which has been buried or otherwise interred in a cemetery and unlawfully removes therefrom a body, bodily part, any human remains or any object contained in such casket, crypt or similar vessel for the purpose of obtaining unlawful possession of such body, bodily part, human remains or object for such person or a third person.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you have been accused of aggravated cemetery desecration it is important to seek legal guidance right away. The consequences of being convicted of this crime can be significant including up to 4 years prison. It is important to take steps to protect your legal rights. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with criminal mischief as well as other felonies and misdemeanors such as grand larceny, burglary, and assault. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of larceny in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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