Perhaps you spray-painted a piece of artwork on a local building, or maybe you caused damage to a place of worship. While these acts can be perceived as creative license or honest mistakes, the state of Illinois may argue differently. Acts of institutional vandalism are taken very seriously, with punishments including fines, probation, and even time spent behind bars. Chicago property crimes lawyer Michael O’Meara knows how stressful and frustrating these situations can be. You may feel as though you are being unfairly punished for a minor offense, or perhaps you never thought that vandalism could lead to a permanent criminal record.
At O’Meara Law we have the experience and knowledge to give your case the best possible chance of success through zealous advocacy and commitment to client satisfaction. To find out how you may be able to beat your vandalism charges, call 312-909-0706 today.
Institutional Vandalism Under Illinois Law
This crime is “institutional” when it affects a recognized societal entity. Institutional vandalism is a crime that involves knowingly and without consent inflicting damage upon any of the following locations:
- A building used for religious worship or another religious purpose
- A cemetery or other facility used for burial
- A school or other educational facility
- A community center
- Grounds adjacent to or rented by an entity owning the aforementioned properties
- Personal property contained in any of the aforementioned properties
What Are the Penalties for Institutional Vandalism?
As mentioned previously, institutional vandalism is punished harshly in the state of Illinois. It may be classified as:
- A Class 3 felony when damage to the property does not exceed $500.
- A Class 2 felony when damage to the property exceeds $500 or your charge is a second or subsequent offense.
Fines may be imposed of up to $25,000 and up to seven years in prison. Additionally, you may have to pay restitution to the victims and face other collateral consequences. The consequences of a vandalism conviction go beyond criminal penalties. Being convicted of a crime means the creation of a criminal record. No matter how hard you try, there is no way to negate the negative effects of this societal blemish. Many employers, for example, will refuse to hire you once they realize that you have a criminal history. Further, continuing your education might become all but impossible, as most schools screen applicants before admitting them. In many cases, scholarships are off-limits to students with criminal records.
The people or organizations who were affected by your vandalism may also pursue compensation through a civil case to recover additional funds from you, as well.
How O’Meara Law Can Help
While the penalties for this crime are harsh, there are a number of legal strategies that a Chicago vandalism lawyer can use to help you avoid spending time behind bars. For example, you might be the victim of mistaken identity. Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable, and yet many people have been arrested and convicted for vandalism based on this type of evidence. Another effective defense is proving that your rights were violated during a police search or your arrest.
Chicago property crimes lawyer Michael O’Meara will give you his undivided attention throughout your case. You will also receive the advantages that come with over 20 years of experience of handling criminal cases – both as a prosecutor and defense attorney.
To find out how you can defeat your institutional vandalism charges, call 312-909-0706 now.