Halloween is a good time to review Criminal Damage to Property charges in Illinois. This holiday encourages harmless pranks and antics, but sometimes young people can get carried away, make mistakes, and need the assistance of a defense attorney to protect them from harsh punishments.
While there are a variety of crimes that are considered property crimes in Illinois, the most common is Criminal Damage to Property. Any time an individual knowingly causes damage to the property of another person, they could be charged with this crime. This crime can be deemed a Class A misdemeanor up to a Class 2 felony, along with punishments including jail time and/or fines, but the severity of the charge depends on the unique circumstances of the case.
Criminal Damage to Property
An individual can be charged with Criminal Damage to Property when he or she:
- Knowingly damages any property of another;
- Recklessly by means of fire or explosive damages property of another;
- Knowingly starts a fire on the land of another;
- Knowingly injures a domestic animal of another;
- Knowingly deposits on the land of another a stink bomb or any offensive smelling compound and thereby intends to interfere with the use of the land or building;
- Knowingly damages any property with intent to defraud an insurer;
- Knowingly shoots a firearm at any portion of a railroad train;
- Knowingly, without proper authorization, cuts, injures, damages, defaces, destroys, or tampers with a fire hydrant or any public or private fire fighting equipment
Penalties for Criminal Damage to Property
Based on the amount of damage that was done and the manner in which it was accomplished, a person could face a jail sentence of up to one year or as long as 15 years.
If the property damage was less than $300, it is considered a Class A misdemeanor. This carries the sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $2,500.
However, as the value of the property damage goes up, so does the penalty. If over $100,000 worth of property damage is done to a church or school, it is considered a Class 1 felony carrying a prison term between four and 15 years and a fine of up to $25,000.
As you can see in the list above, a defendant must ‘knowingly’ damage property or put into motion events that will certainly do so, like starting a fire or setting off a stink bomb. Prosecutors will have to prove that the defendant acted knowingly. An experienced defense attorney will argue that their client’s intent was not to damage any property with their course of action.
If you or a loved one is charged with Criminal Damage to Property, it is imperative that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can review the details of your case and craft an effective defense. Contact Richard at Fenbert & Associates, LLC for a free consultation.