Criminal damage to property is an Illinois crime that prohibits the destruction of or interference with another person’s property. More specifically, this offense addresses damage committed in a knowing, reckless, or intentional fashion. Though depending on the circumstances of the offense, the criminal penalties for a conviction can vary to a significant degree.
How Does Illinois Define Criminal Damage to Property?
Illinois law at 720 ILCS 5/21-1 defines what qualifies as criminal damage to property. Under this section, it is a crime to:
- Knowingly damage another person’s property;
- Recklessly damage another person’s property, using fire or explosives;
- Knowingly start a fire on another person’s land;
- Knowingly injure another person’s domestic animal without consent;
- Knowingly place a stink bomb or a similar device on another person’s land or building;
- Knowingly damage any property with the intent to commit insurance fraud;
- Knowingly discharge a firearm at any part of a railroad train;
- Knowingly damage or otherwise tamper with any fire hydrant or fire-fighting equipment; or
- Intentionally open any fire hydrant without authorization.
What is the Illinois Penalty for Criminal Damage to Property?
Section 21-1 also establishes the Illinois penalty structure for criminal damage to property offenses. It is vital to note that the applicable punishment does change based on numerous elements, including the nature and severity of the offense.
From a general standpoint, the amount of damage caused is a significant factor in determining the applicable punishment. For example, criminal damage to property involving:
- Up to $500 in damage — Is normally charged as a Class A misdemeanor and punishable by a maximum of 12 months in jail and $2,500 in criminal fines;
- Between $500 and $10,000 in damage — Is normally charged as a Class 4 felony and punishable by one to three years in prison and up to $25,000 in criminal fines;
- Between $10,000 and $100,000 in damage — Is normally charged as a Class 3 felony and punishable by two to five years in prison and up to $25,000 in criminal fines; or
- More than $100,000 in damage — Is normally charged as a Class 2 felony and punishable by three to seven years in prison and up to $25,000 in criminal fines.
As noted above, however, the punishment for this offense is not set in stone. If the offense was committed at a school or place of worship, the charges and penalties can escalate quickly.
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.