If You Rob a Grave, This is the Penalty in New York State
Halloween is right around the corner, and things are getting spooky. Homes on every street are being adorned with cobwebs, black cats and fake grave stones.
But what about real grave stones? It's not uncommon this time of year for teenagers to explore a graveyard at night, in the hopes of a supernatural encounter, or maybe just getting a cheap scare by jumping out and shouting "boo!"
All in good fun, and on the surface. At most, you might get slapped on the wrist with a trespassing charge.
But let's say your friends want to take their cemetery prank to the next level by actually digging up a corpse. (Hey, don't look at me, they're YOUR friends.)
Digging up a coffin, opening a crypt, or doing anything to disturb human remains is considered aggravated cemetery desecration in the second degree, and it's a class E felony. For more on this, we look to New York Penal Law § 145.26:
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.
If convicted of aggravated cemetery desecration in the second degree, a person can be sentenced up to 4 years in prison in New York.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. If it can be proven you stole something of value that was buried with the body, you're facing a whole slew of additional charges.
PROBABLY NOT A GREAT IDEA
So while it may SOUND fun to dig up a corpse, you're best to let the dead lie. Lord knows there are enough horror movies out there that can confirm this.
(...unless, of course, you're an archaeologist in Egypt. Then you can become famous for digging them up.)