When any person engages in certain types of property damage in Illinois, he or she will face charges for criminal damage to property. This offense exists on top of civil remedies available to the property owner, punishing specific conduct with potential jail time and criminal fines. That being said, this offense is limited to perpetrators who engage with knowledge in distinct varieties of property damage.
What is the Definition of Criminal Damage to Property?
Under 720 ILCS 5/21-1, criminal damage to property occurs when a person knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally:
- Damages another person’s property;
- Uses fire or explosives to damage another person’s property;
- Sparks a fire on another person’s land;
- Injures another person’s pet or domestic animal without consent;
- Deposits a stink bomb or similarly offensive device on another person’s land or building;
- Destroys any property with the intent of defrauding an insurance provider;
- Discharges a firearm at a railroad train;
- Tampers with or otherwise impairs any fire-fighting equipment; or
- Opens any fire hydrant.
In certain cases, there is an affirmative defense to this offense. If the property owner consented to the damage, then the perpetrator may escape criminal liability.
What are the Penalties for Criminal Damage to Property?
The penalties for criminal damage to property also appear under 720 ILCS 5/21-1. The punishment for this offense adapts based on the type of conduct and the value of property damaged. For example:
- Damaging Fire Equipment or Hydrants: This is normally a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of six months in jail and $1,500 in fines; and
- Shooting at a Train: This is normally a Class 4 felony, punishable by a maximum of 12 to 36 months in jail and $25,000 in fines.
In most other cases, the value of the property damaged dictates the applicable penalties. For example, criminal damage to property with a value:
- Up to $300: This is normally a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of 364 days in jail and $2,500 in fines;
- Between $300 and $10,000: This is normally a Class 4 felony, punishable as outlined above;
- Between $10,000 and $100,000: This is normally a Class 3 felony, punishable by a maximum of 24 to 60 months in jail and $25,000 in fines; and
- More than $100,000: This is normally a Class 2 felony, punishable by a maximum of 36 to 84 months in jail and $25,000 in fines.
Do You Need Legal Help?
No matter what the criminal offense, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by completing an online form.
(image courtesy of Daniel von Appen)