Criminal damage to property is a far-reaching offense under the Illinois Criminal Code. Depending on the underlying circumstances, this offense can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges and a widespread difference in applicable penalties.
Illinois Laws Against Criminal Damage to Property
The Illinois laws against criminal damage to property appear at 720 ILCS 5/21-1. This section makes it unlawful to knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally:
- Damage the property of another person;
- Use fire or explosives to damage the property of another person;
- Start a fire on another person’s land;
- Injure another person’s domestic animal without consent;
- Deposit any stink bomb or offense-smelling compound to interfere with the use of land or a building;
- Damage any property with intent to defraud an insurer;
- Discharge a firearm at any part of a railroad train;
- Damage, destroy, or tamper with any fire hydrant or fire-fighting equipment; or
- Open any fire hydrant without valid authorization.
Illinois Penalties for Criminal Damage to Property
Section 21-1 also describes the Illinois penalties for criminal damage to property. Though the applicable penalty can vary greatly depending on the underlying circumstances of the offense. But generally speaking, criminal damage to property that leads to:
- $500 or less in damage — Results in Class A misdemeanor charges and a maximum punishment of 12 months in jail and $2,500 in criminal fines;
- $500 to $10,000 in damage — Results in Class 4 felony charges and a maximum punishment of three years in prison and $25,000 in criminal fines;
- $10,000 to $100,000 in damage — Results in Class 3 felony charges and a maximum punishment of five years in prison and $25,000 in criminal fines; or
- $100,000 or more in damage — Results in Class 1 felony charges and a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison and $25,000 in criminal fines.
That being said, there are exceptions. For example, the penalty structure changes for offenses committed at schools, places of worship, or certain memorials. Farm equipment also receives heightened protection. Also of note:
- It is a Class B misdemeanor to open a fire hydrant or tamper with fire-fighting equipment. The punishment can include a maximum of six months in jail and $1,500 in criminal fines.
- It is a Class 4 felony to discharge a firearm at any part of a railroad train. The punishment can include one to three years in prison and up to $25,000 in criminal fines.
Do You Need Legal Help?
No matter what the criminal offense is, all charges are serious. A sound strategy and an aggressive defense are essential for a positive outcome. To protect your rights in such situations, it is highly advisable to retain legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.
The Prior Law Firm in Bloomington, Illinois, has proven experience in matters of criminal defense. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free consultation. You can reach The Prior Law Firm by phone at (309) 827-4300, email at email@example.com, or by completing an online form.