Criminal Damage to Property
When people think of criminal damage to property, they usually imagine vandalism or graffiti. While graffiti is a form of this crime, there are several other offenses that involve damaging property, each with its own penalties. The law of criminal damage to property is complex and may result in serious criminal penalties.
If you’ve been charged with criminal damage to property, you should have a Chicago property crimes lawyer by your side to fight the charges from the beginning. To learn more about the defenses that may apply to your case, call O’Meara Law today at 312-909-0706 for your free and confidential consultation.
Types of Criminal Damage to Property
Criminal damage to property may include:
- Knowingly damaging another person’s property
- Recklessly damaging another person’s property by fire or explosion
- Knowingly starting a fire on the land of someone else
- Knowingly injuring someone else’s domestic animal
- Knowingly using a stink bomb or other offensive smelling compound on someone else’s land or in someone else’s building
- Knowingly damaging any property (even your own) with the intent of defrauding an insurer
- Knowingly shooting a gun at a railroad train
- Knowingly damaging or tampering with a fire hydrant or any fire fighting equipment
- Intentionally opening a fire hydrant without authorization
This crime always involves knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally acting in a way that causes damage to property. If you accidentally cause damage, you may not be guilty of criminal damage to property. A valid defense may also include that the owner of the property or land damaged allowed the damage to occur. The exception is that the damage was for the purpose of insurance fraud. You may not even damage your own property if you intend to defraud insurance.
Penalties for Criminal Damage to Property
The penalties for criminal damage to property range from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class 1 felony, depending on what property was damaged and its value:
- Class B misdemeanor – This includes damage to a fire hydrant or fire fighting equipment. This is punishable by up to six months in jail and up to $1,500 in fines.
- Class A misdemeanor – This includes damage to property not exceeding $500. This is punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.
- Class 4 felony – This includes damage to school, place of worship, or agricultural property not exceeding $500 or other property not exceeding $10,000, including domestic animals. This also includes shooting at a train. This is punishable by one and three years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
- Class 3 felony – This includes damage to school, place of worship, or agricultural property over $500 but not more than $10,000 or other property not exceeding $100,000 worth of damage. This is punishable by two and five years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
- Class 2 felony – This includes damage to property exceeding $100,000. This is punishable by two and five years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. This is punishable by three and seven years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
- Class 1 felony – This includes damage to school, place of worship, or agricultural property over $100,000. This is punishable by four and 15 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines
In addition to the penalties listed above, you may also be forced to pay restitution. This means you may have to compensate the victim for the damage to their personal property. You may also be liable in a civil lawsuit brought against you outside of your criminal charges.
If you are convicted of any charges, they may remain on your criminal record for life and affect your life in the following ways:
- Trouble finding a good job because of your criminal history
- Inability to get accepted into many colleges
- Inability to obtain certain professional licenses
- Disqualification from getting welfare of housing subsidies
- For felons, inability to bear arms
- For immigrants, the possibility of facing deportation
How O’Meara Law Can Help
Depending on the property you damaged and your prior offenses, you could be facing felony charges, hefty fines, and even incarceration. A Chicago property crimes lawyer can help you preserve your legal rights throughout the criminal justice process and to obtain the best-case outcome possible under the circumstances.
Attorney Michael O’Meara has many years of experience defending those accused of property crimes. As a former prosecutor, he knows how the state will build its case against you, and it where its weaknesses may be.
If you’re facing criminal damage to property charges, call O’Meara Law at 312-909-0706 for a free and confidential consultation.