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NY Penal Law § 145.22: Cemetery Desecration in the Second Degree

June 30, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

In New York, as in most places, to steal or damage the property of another person is against the law. New York has a number of criminal statutes established to sanction those who steal or in some way vandalize property. There are specific laws which directly address the vandalization cemetery property. Pursuant to New York Penal Law § 145.22, you could be prosecuted for the crime of cemetery desecration in the second degree if you:

  1. Intentionally deface the real or personal property that is maintained as a location of interment of human remains, or
  2. Intentionally steal any personal property that is situated at a place of interment of human remains and that is owned by the person or organization that maintains the place of interment of human remains or is owned by the estate of a deceased person.


As a mischief night prank, on Halloween night, Becky and four of her friends sneak into a cemetery and knock 30 headstones over.  In the process, they caused damage to several of them. Becky and her four friends could be facing prosecution for cemetery desecration in the second degree, because they intentionally damaged property in a cemetery.

Offenses that are Related

Criminal mischief in the third degree: New York Penal Law § 145.05

Criminal mischief in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 145.10

Criminal mischief in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 145.12

Trespass: New York Penal Law § 140.05

Possible Defenses

To be valid, the cemetery desecration in the second degree statute necessitates that you either damage or steal property inside of a cemetery. If the property in question was merely disturbed, and no damage was caused, then the prosecutor would have a difficult time proving that you committed cemetery desecration in the second degree.

The Sentence

Cemetery desecration in the second degree is categorized as a class A misdemeanor. As a consequence, the judge may order you to spend up to a year in the county jail. That said, there is also a good chance that the judge will not sentence you to any jail time, but will instead sentence you to a 3 year probation term.



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