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Criminal Damage to Property

Chicago Criminal Defense AttorneyDefending against Criminal Damage to Property Charges – Illinois Defense Counsel

There are many different crimes that fall within the classification of property crimes under Illinois law. One of the most common of these crimes is criminal damage to property. The crime involves a person who knowingly damages property of another, without the consent of the owner of the property. The nature of the charges that a person faces will depend on the type of damage that was done and the manner in which it was accomplished. The potential offenses range from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 2 felony, pursuant to Illinois law. See 720 ILCS 5/21-1. It is a mistake to respond to these charges without the representation of an experienced and dedicated Illinois criminal defense attorney.

David L. Freidberg has spent nearly two decades fighting for the rights and freedoms of people who have been accused of crimes in Cook County, Illinois and the surrounding areas. He believes that it is necessary to defend every matter aggressively because a criminal record can impact a person’s ability to pursue specific career paths, obtain necessary state assistance, and even obtain certain types of housing. Mr. Freidberg analyzes each case in order to develop the best legal strategy for his clients. The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg are built on the premise of doing everything necessary to achieve the right outcome for individuals facing criminal charges.

Criminal Damage to Property

A person may be charged with criminal damage to property when he commits the following acts:

  • Engages in activities that cause damage to another person’s property – the accused must have acted knowingly;
  • Damages property through fire or explosion while acting in a reckless manner;
  • Starts a fire knowingly on land belonging to another person;
  • Injures a pet belonging to someone else – this act must be done knowingly; or
  • Damages property with the intent to collect insurance.

In addition to criminal damage to property, there is a closely related charge of criminal defacement of property, which involves marking another person’s property through the placement of graffiti or other means. The severity of the charges depends on the amount of property damage and whether this is a first offense or not. If the person defacing the property does more than $300.00 worth of damage or vandalized a school, church, or agricultural equipment then he could be sentenced to between two to five years in prison and be fined up to $25,000.00. This would be a Class 3 felony.

Another related charge is criminal damage to firefighting apparatus, hydrants, or other equipment. If a person willfully and maliciously tampers with this equipment, including damaging, defacing, or destroying the apparatus, then he can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. This crime is punishable by a jail sentence of up to six months and a fine of up to $1,500.00. It does not matter if it is a public or private firehouse. See 720 ILCS 5/21-1.01.

Penalties for Criminal Damage to Property

Based on the amount of damage that was done and the manner in which it was accomplished, a person could face the following penalties for this type of property crime:

  • A jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $2,500.00 if the property damage was less than $300.00 – this is a Class A misdemeanor;
  • A prison term of between one to three years and a fine of up to $25,000.00 if the property damage was between $300.00 and $10,000.00 – this is a Class 4 felony
  • A prison term of between one to three years and a fine of up to $25,000.00 if the damage was to a school, church, or agricultural equipment and was valued at less than $300.00 – this is a Class 4 felony;
  • A prison term of between two to five years and a fine of up to $25,000.00 if the damage was between $10,000.00 to $100,000.00 or if the damage was done to a school, church, or agricultural equipment and the damage was valued at $300.00 to $10,000.00 – this is a Class 3 felony;
  • A prison term of three to seven years and a fine of up to $25,000.00 if the damage was more than $100,000.00 or the damage was done to a school, church, or agricultural equipment and was valued between $10,000.00 and $100,000.00 – this is a Class 2 felony; and
  • A prison term between four and 15 years and a fine of up to $25,000.00 if the damage was done to a school, church, or agricultural equipment and was valued at more than $100,000.00 – this is a Class 1 felony.

See 720 ILCS 5/21-1.

In addition to the penalties established by statute in Illinois, there are certain facts that may lead to more severe punishment for individuals charged with this crime. These factors include damage to property involving animals as well as damage to property at a school or church. A person may face harsher penalties if he damaged agricultural or farm equipment.

Defending against Criminal Damage to Property Crimes

When a person is charged with any type of crime, the defense is going to be based on the unique facts of the crime. However, one of the key elements of property crimes is the defendant’s intent at the time that the crime was committed. The prosecutor is going to have to establish the requisite level of intent, including that the defendant acted knowingly in many cases. In crafting an effective defense, it may be possible to establish that the defendant lacked the intent to be guilty of the crime.

Unlike other crimes where the individual was arrested while in possession of drugs or other evidence of the crime, many property crimes are based on circumstantial evidence and it is possible to challenge the fact that the defendant did not commit the crime. There are many cases where the prosecution does not have the right person facing charges. In addition, there are constitutional violations in property crime cases just as there are in other types of cases. An effective defense will be based on a thorough analysis of the case from every perspective.

David L. Freidberg Advocates for Clients Charged with Property Crimes

When a person has been charged with a property crime, he may be tempted to handle the matter on his own or to rely on the services of an attorney who does not have the background to effectively represent the interests of his client. This is a mistake for many reasons, including the fact that a criminal conviction can have lifelong repercussions, especially if it is a felony conviction. A criminal record may prevent a person from obtaining the licenses or certifications necessary to pursue his desired career. He may not be able to qualify for certain loans or live in some types of housing. Further, he may lose the right to bear arms or to vote. These are all serious consequences that might be avoided with the right legal help. David L. Freidberg understands how important it is to fight hard against criminal charges. At the Law Offices of David L. Freidberg, we are committed to aggressively fighting to preserve the rights and freedoms of our clients. Contact the office at (312) 560-7100 or (800) 803-1442 or send an email to dfreidberg@freidberglaw.com in order to schedule a free consultation. We will respond to your inquiry quickly. We are available 24/7 for your convenience.