Criminal Defacement of Property
Criminally defacing property is a serious crime under Illinois law, and encompasses graffiti, marking, writing, etching, or painting on someone else’s property. Those convicted of the crime of criminal defacement of property could face considerable jail time, hefty fines, and the creation of a permanent criminal record.
Anyone charged with the crime of criminal defacement of property should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg has assisted countless defendants facing criminal defacement of property and other like criminal damage to property crimes for 20 years. We have the experience and in-depth knowledge you need to defend against this potentially serious crime. Our criminal defense lawyers go to work on your case the moment we are retained, building your strong and powerful defense.Defining the Crime of Criminal Defacement of Property
Under Illinois law, the crime of criminal defacement of property is set out in 720 ILCS 5/21‑1.3. The crime can be broken down as follows:
- A person commits the crime of criminal defacement of property when he or she knowingly damages the property of another by defacing or otherwise damaging or deforming the property through the use of paint or a similar substance, or through the use of a writing instrument, etching tool, or other such device.
The statute is broad enough to encompass any sort of graffiti, marking, writing, painting, or etching on the property of another. Some of the most common acts leading to this charge include graffiti to buildings or structures, writing in restaurant bathrooms or other surfaces, spray painting on concrete buildings, and the like. The crime requires that the offender purposefully deface the property.
The crime of criminal defacement of property is one of several criminal damage to property crimes. Criminal damage to property crimes are complex and extensive. They include several crimes involving general damage to property, damage to schools, places of worship, or farm equipment.Punishments for Criminal Defacement of Property in Illinois
The severity of the crime of criminal defacement of property will depend upon the value of the damage done and whether you have prior offenses. If charged with criminal defacement of property a first time, and the value is less than $300, you will face a Class B misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,500.
If the value of the damage inflicted is over $300 or you are charged with a second or subsequent offense, you will face a Class A misdemeanor. The potential penalties for this crime include one year in jail and fines of up to $2,500.
If the value of the damage exceeds $300 and the property that is defaced is a church, school, or farm equipment, the crime will be punishable by two to five years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.
In addition to potential jail time and fees, a conviction for criminal defacement of property will permanently appear on your criminal record. Your criminal record will often be reviewed by potential employers, schools, loan officers, the military, and much more. Your life could be greatly affected by your criminal conviction.Defending Against Criminal Defacement of Property Charges
Your exact defense will depend greatly upon the circumstances surrounding the charge. Some common defenses against criminal defacement of property charges include:
- Owner’s consent: It is only illegal to graffiti, paint, write, or otherwise mark property if the property owner did not consent to it. If your defense attorney can demonstrate that the graffiti, painting, writing, etching or like “damage” was done with the permission of the property owner, the charge cannot stand.
- Mistaken identity: Graffiti and other tagging to property generally occurs at night, and visibility is poor. Therefore, it may be difficult for witnesses to get a clear view of the perpetrator. If your defense attorney can show that the conditions made it impossible for witnesses to give a reliable identification, the prosecution’s case will be significantly weakened.
- First Amendment: In some cases, it may be possible to have the criminal defacement to property charges dropped on the constitutional grounds of free speech. Certain organizations have fought to have street art such as graffiti recognized as a form of self expression.
- Lack of probable cause: Your defense attorney will likely challenge the strength of the prosecution’s case in proving each element of the offense. If the jury believes that there is some doubt as to whether you intentionally defaced the property of another, they must acquit.
While many first time offenders elect to plead guilty to the offense without seeking the assistance of attorney, this practice can have serious negative consequences for the individual later on. If they are arrested again for the same or a different offense, they will likely face enhanced criminal penalties that may include mandatory jail time and large fines. Further, the misdemeanor conviction will form a part of their criminal record. It is never wise to accept a quick plea deal. Consult with a criminal defense attorney who can challenge the charges and seek the best possible legal outcome.
For 20 years, The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg has assisted clients charged with a variety of crimes across the state of Illinois. We understand the serious consequences associated with any criminal conviction and will fight vigorously to see that you avoid conviction. We seek first to have the charges dismissed or reduced on constitutional or probable cause grounds. If that is not possible due to the circumstances surrounding the charge, we will negotiate a strong plea bargain or bring your case to trial and present your powerful defense. At all times, we act with solely your best outcome in mind and will not rest until your case is brought to the greatest possible resolution.The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg: Assisting Those Charged With the Crime of Criminal Defacement of Property
Criminal defacement of property charges are a serious matter in Illinois and can result in state or federal jail time along with substantial fines and a criminal record. If you have been charged with this crime, your future may depend upon the skill and experience of your criminal defense attorney. The Criminal Defense Attorneys at The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg have assisted clients with counterfeiting and other serious felony charges for over 20 years. We will fight aggressively to see that you achieve the best legal outcome. As soon as you retain our office, we will start mounting your strong defense, finding holes in the prosecution’s case and seek to have the case dismissed early on. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist in your defense. To schedule your free consultation, call us today at (312) 560-7100 or toll free at (800) 803-1442. You may additionally contact us via email and we will respond as soon as possible.