Perhaps without thinking, you post on someone else’s store front window an announcement of a concert, new business grand opening or special event. You deem your posting acceptable likely because you see other flyers or cards.
On the assumption that you did not first ask the storefront or other property owner, you have violated New York Penal Law Section 145.30. This statute prohibits the unauthorized posting of advertisements on the properties of others.
You are guilty of this offense if you post, paint or attach to someone else’s property an advertisement poster, flyer or a notice for the benefit of someone other than the owner of the property where you post the advertisement or notice.
The statute also prohibits you from causing someone to perform one of these acts in violation of Section 145.30. This means your guilt can be based on proof that you directed or assisted someone in the unlawful or unauthorized advertisement. If you own a business and your name appears on the advertisement, the law presumes that you placed the advertisement or caused it to be placed.
What is the Punishment?
For the unlawful posting of an advertisement in violation of Section 145.30, you face a maximum of 15 days in jail. The statute treats this offense as a “violation.” It is not classified as a crime.
Moreover, the public will not see a record of this charged. In New York, the unauthorized posting of an advertisement and certain other violations are “sealed.” (https://www.nycourts.gov/courthelp/Criminal/sealedViolationsInfractions.shtml) This means that the record of the charge, though it still exists, is not available for public inspection or review. If any fingerprints or other items were created, the law enforcement agency that processed the case will destroy those items or return them to you.
However, a violation of Section 145.30 often is not the sole charge arising out of an incident. In many cases, the offender also faces charges such as intentionally damaging another’s property in violation of NY Penal Law 145.001(1). This happens as a result of actions such as placing adhesives or nails that may damage windows or other components of a building. Such an act is prosecuted as criminal mischief in the fourth degree and is a misdemeanor. Making graffiti and possessing instruments of graffiti may also accompany the unlawful posting of an advertisement.
If you’re convicted of one of these misdemeanors, you might spend more than 15 days (up to one year) in prison. Further, if you are an immigrant (lawful or otherwise), a conviction for graffiti or criminal mischief may raise the possibility of deportation. Immigration agencies and courts potentially could treat these misdemeanors as acts that show a lack of moral character and, thus, grounds for deportation.
Section 145.001(1) subjects you to conviction when you lack the authority or a good faith belief of your authority to post an advertisement on someone else’s property. Thus, you may defend on the grounds that you reasonably believed you had permission for the posting. If an employee or someone who appeared to be in charge of the establishment told you that you could post the advertisement, that grant of permission may allow you a defense, even if someone else is actually in charge and files the complaint.
If you’re business is listed on the poster, flyer or other advertisement, you may defeat the presumption that you caused the posting with proof that you did not instruct such action. This may include written instructions on the posting and that your employee deviated from it.
Contact us for a free consultation if your find yourself cited for unlawfully posting advertisements or crimes related to such an act. We can help you fashion defenses or pursue a plea if your charges venture into misdemeanors or even felonies arising from your actions of posting advertisements.