Violation of Building Permit Requirement Not a Basis for Criminal Liability Under NY Executive Law

People of the State of New York v. Grimditch, 936 N.Y.S.2d 527 (Sup. Ct. Essex Co. 2012).

In a case of first impression, the Court in People v. Grimditch held that a contractor cannot be held liable under New York Executive Law § 382(2) solely for building without a permit.  The Defendant contractor had been constructing a boathouse on Lake Placid when the town building code enforcement officer issued a stop work order for failure to obtain a building permit under the state building code.  When Defendant contractor disobeyed the order by continuing construction, he was indicted by the Essex County District Attorney’s Office for violating Executive Law § 382(2), which provides that failure to follow an “order to remedy any condition found to exist in, on, or about any building” or knowingly violating an order by a local government regarding the “standards for construction, maintenance, or fire protection” will result in fines or imprisonment.  The Court held that the indictment was defective because building without a permit did not amount to a condition existing “in, on, or about” the building and therefore was not a violation of the express language of the statute.  The Court also held that the requirement of a building permit was not a “standard of construction or maintenance.”

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