Service & Results.

nyc criminal lawyers over 30 years of experienceWe Know How To Win Cases

Spodek Law Group handles tough cases
nationwide, that demand excellence.

Get Free Consultation

Faced 5+ Years in Prison

People Vs Joseph Amico

Covered by NYDaily News. Las Vegas man accused of threatening a prominent attorney and making vile remarks.

Faced 10+ Years in Prison

People Vs. Anna Sorokin

Covered by New York Times, and other outlets. Fake heiress accused of conning the city’s wealthy, and has an HBO special being made about her.

Faced 3+ Years in Prison

People Vs. Genevieve Sabourin

Accused of stalking Alec Baldwin. The case garnered nationwide attention, with USAToday, NYPost, and other media outlets following it closely.

Faced Potential Charges

Ghislaine Maxwell Juror

Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.

Why Choose Us

Clients can use our portal to track the status of their case, stay in touch with us, upload documents, and more.

Regardless of the type of situation you're facing, our attorneys are here to help you get quality representation.

We can setup consultations in person, over Zoom, or over the phone to help you. Bottom line, we're here to help you win your case.

Law in the Media

View All

Meet Todd Spodek


The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

Todd Spodek is a second generation attorney with immense experience. He has many years of experience handling 100’s of tough and hard to win trials. He’s been featured on major news outlets, such as New York Post, Newsweek, Fox 5 New York, South China Morning Post, Insider.com, and many others.

In 2022, Netflix released a series about one of Todd’s clients: Anna Delvey/Anna Sorokin.

Why Clients Choose Spodek Law Group

The reason is simple: clients want white glove service, and lawyers who can win. Every single client who works with the Spodek Law Group is aware that the attorney they hire could drastically change the outcome of their case. Hiring the Spodek Law Group means you’re taking your future seriously. Our lawyers handle cases nationwide, ranging from NYC to LA. Our philosophy is fair and simple: our nyc criminal lawyers only take on clients who we know will benefit from our services.

We’re selective about the clients we work with, and only take on cases we know align with our experience – and where we can make a difference. This is different from other law firms who are not invested in your success nor care about your outcome.

If you have a legal issue, call us for a consultation.
We are available 24/7, to help you with any – and all, challenges you face.

New York Penal Law 145 23 Cemetery Desecration First Degree

By Spodek Law Group | July 17, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 17, 2023)

Last Updated on: 17th October 2023, 04:46 pm

New York Penal Law 145.23 Cemetery Desecration First Degree – What You Need to Know

Cemetery desecration laws in New York aim to protect burial sites and graves from damage and theft. But what exactly constitutes cemetery desecration under the law? And what are the penalties if you are convicted? This article provides an overview of New York Penal Law 145.23 on cemetery desecration in the first degree so you can understand what’s illegal and the potential consequences.

What is Cemetery Desecration in New York?

New York law defines cemetery desecration as intentionally damaging graves, headstones, memorials, or stealing personal property from a cemetery. This includes things like:

  • Toppling over headstones
  • Spray painting or marking headstones with graffiti
  • Damaging flowers, vases or other items left at a grave
  • Digging up graves fully or partially
  • Stealing headstones, vases, flowers or other personal property from graves

There are two main degrees of cemetery desecration under New York law:

  • Second Degree – Damaging property or stealing items worth $250 or less
  • First Degree – Damaging property or stealing items worth more than $250

First degree is the more serious offense. This article focuses specifically on New York Penal Law 145.23 which covers cemetery desecration in the first degree.

New York Penal Law 145.23 – What Does it Cover?

Under Penal Law 145.23, a person can be charged with cemetery desecration in the first degree if they:

  • Cause more than $250 in damage to property at a cemetery, grave, or burial place
  • Steal personal property worth more than $250 from a cemetery, grave, or burial place
  • Commit second degree cemetery desecration after a previous conviction for the same crime in the past 5 years

So the main things the law aims to punish is damaging gravesites and stealing valuables from cemeteries when the value exceeds $250. The dollar threshold is important – if the damage or value of stolen property is $250 or less, it would be charged as second degree instead.

Some examples of first degree cemetery desecration could include:

  • Knocking over multiple headstones resulting in over $250 in damage
  • Stealing vases, flowers, or other decorations worth over $250 from graves
  • Intentionally smashing a large memorial statue worth more than $250
  • Breaking into a mausoleum and stealing items worth over $250
  • Committing second degree desecration again within 5 years of a prior conviction

What Are the Penalties for First Degree Cemetery Desecration in New York?

Cemetery desecration in the first degree is a class E felony under New York law. If convicted, the possible penalties can include:

  • Up to 4 years in state prison
  • Probation for up to 5 years
  • Fines ordered by the court
  • Restitution to compensate the victim(s) for property damage or theft

The judge has discretion in sentencing. A 4 year prison term is the maximum but is not mandatory. Many first time offenders may receive probation instead of prison. Fines and restitution may be ordered in addition to or instead of incarceration.

These potential penalties demonstrate why cemetery desecration should be taken seriously. The damages can be more than just financial – it can cause severe emotional distress to relatives of the deceased as well.

What Defenses Can Be Used Against Cemetery Desecration Charges?

If you are accused of cemetery desecration, there may be defenses that your criminal defense attorney can use to fight the charges:

  • Lack of intent – If the damage was a pure accident, you may not have intended to desecrate the cemetery. This could apply if you tripped and fell into a headstone for example.
  • Value dispute – If the prosecutor alleges the damage or stolen property exceeds $250, disputing the valuation could get the charge reduced to second degree. Evidence like repair receipts may be needed.
  • Mistake of fact – Reasonably believing you had permission or the right to enter the cemetery could negate intent.
  • False accusations – Another person may have committed the act and falsely accused you.
  • Intoxication – Evidence of heavy intoxication could be used to undermine intent if you were too impaired to knowingly commit cemetery desecration.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can assess the evidence in your case and determine if any of these defenses may apply.

Recent Examples of Cemetery Desecration in New York

To understand how these laws are applied in real cases, here are some recent examples of cemetery desecration prosecutions in New York:

  • In Buffalo, three teenagers were charged with knocking over more than 70 headstones at a local cemetery, causing over $60,000 in damage.
  • A man in Albany was sentenced to 1-3 years in state prison after he was caught on camera knocking over headstones in a drunken rampage causing $27,000 in damage.
  • In Suffolk county, a woman was convicted of second degree cemetery desecration and sentenced to probation plus home confinement for damaging headstones and memorials.
  • Two teens were arrested in Queens for spray painting graffiti on headstones and mausoleums at a cemetery, causing thousands in damages.

These cases illustrate how seriously cemetery desecration is taken under New York law, with multiple offenders facing felony charges and prison sentences depending on the extent of damage.

Why Are These Laws in Place?

There are important policy reasons why New York and other states have enacted laws to punish cemetery vandalism and theft:

  • Protecting burial sites shows respect for the dead and their surviving family members
  • Graves contain sentimental property that has value to relatives of the deceased
  • It prevents disturbing human remains which most find highly offensive
  • Graveyards contain historic artifacts and memorials worth preserving
  • Substantial costs are incurred to repair damages, which taxpayers may have to cover

By setting penalties such as prison time and fines, the laws aim to deter would-be vandals from defacing cemeteries and prevent repeat offenses. While some youths may see it as a prank, the emotional and financial impacts on others are very real.

What to Do If You Are Accused of Cemetery Desecration

If you have been arrested or charged with any degree of cemetery desecration in New York, it is critical to retain legal counsel immediately. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can advise you on the best defense strategies and work to achieve the most favorable resolution in your case. This could mean getting charges reduced or dismissed, or minimizing penalties if convicted.

Free Consultation


I was searching for a law firm with some power to help me deal with a warrant in New York . After 6 days I decided to go with Spodek Law Group. It helped that This law firm is well respected by not only the top law firms in New York , but the DA , Judge as well. I...

~Fonder Brandon

5 Stars
It was my good fortune to retain Spodek Law Group for representation for my legal needs. From the beginning, communication was prompt and thorough. Todd, Kenneth and Alex were the first people I worked with and they all made me, and my company Qumana skincare feel comfortable and confident that the team was going to work hard for me. Everything...

~A G

5 Stars
After meeting with several law firms, I chose the Spodek Law Group not only for their professionalism and experience, but for the personal attention given to me right from the initial consultation. It is important to recognize how crucial having the right legal team is when faced with potentially life altering events that impact families and the lives of loved...

~George Cherubini

Spodek Law Group

White Glove Service

We Provide Superior Service, Excellent Results, At A Level Superior To Other Criminal Defense Law Firms. Regardless Of Where Your Case Is, Nationwide, We Can Help You.
View More

Request Free Consultation

Please fill out the form below to receive a free consultation, we will respond to
your inquiry within 24-hours guaranteed.


85 Broad St 30th Floor, New York, NY 10004


get directions

Los Angeles

611 S Catalina St Suite 222, Los Angeles, CA 90005


get directions


35-37 36th St, 2nd Floor Astoria, NY 11106


get directions


195 Montague St., 14th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201


get directions
Call Now!