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NY Penal Law § 145.65: Possession of graffiti instruments

New York has several laws aimed at punishing those who damage property of another person. One such law makes it illegal to deface property with graffiti. Under New York Penal Law § 145.60 it is illegal to deface property by etching, painting, covering, drawing upon or otherwise marking on another person's property without that person's permission. Not only is it illegal to make graffiti on the property that is owned by another person, it is illegal to possess tools used to make graffiti. Under New York Penal Law § 145.65 you could be prosecuted for possession of graffiti instruments if you possess any tool or substance that is designed or commonly used to make graffiti under circumstances that show that you have the intent to use the tool or substance to damage another person's property with graffiti.


Davis was walking down the street carrying a bag. His clothing and hands had paint stains of various colors. The police were investigating a report of someone making graffiti on a building in the area. Suspecting that Davis was responsible for the graffiti, the police stopped him and looked in the bag he was carrying. The bag contained several aerosol cans of paint that matched the colors of the graffiti that was recently painted. Under these circumstances Davis could be charged with possession of graffiti instruments.

Related Offenses
  1. Trespass: New York Penal Law § 140.05
  2. Criminal mischief in the fourth degree: New York Penal Law § 145.00
  3. Making Graffiti: New York Penal Law § 145.60

In order for you to be convicted of possession of graffiti instruments, it must be proven that you had the intent to use the items in your possession to make graffiti. Merely having the items is not enough as many items commonly used to make graffiti have other, innocuous uses. If there is no evidence that you planned on using the instruments for graffiti, you cannot be convicted of this crime.


Because possession of graffiti instruments is a Class B misdemeanor, if you are convicted the maximum possible sentence that you will receive is 3 months in jail. In lieu of jail, the judge will have the option of sentencing you to a probation term of 1 year. In addition you may be ordered to pay a fine and participate in a community service program geared at reducing the amount of graffiti in New York.

New York Penal Law § 145.65: Possession of Graffiti Instruments

A person is guilty of possession of graffiti instruments when he possesses 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 that person has 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.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Because possession of graffiti instruments is a Class B misdemeanor you may be inclined to not take the charge seriously. However, even though it is a misdemeanor, you could still end up in jail for up to 3 months. 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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