Chicago Destruction of Government Property Defense Lawyer

Destruction of Government Property

Destruction of government property is a criminal offense that involves damaging, altering, or destroying assets owned by the state or federal governments. This practice page offers a comprehensive overview of the statutes and penalties related to this offense under federal law and Illinois state law.

Federal Statutes on Destruction of Government Property

18 U.S.C. § 1361 – This is the primary federal statute that criminalizes the willful destruction of government property. The statute encompasses a wide array of government property, including buildings, structures, and even information stored electronically.

  • Willful Destruction: Under this statute, the act must be willful to warrant a conviction. Accidental damage is generally not covered.
  • Penalties: The penalties vary depending on the extent of the damage. For damage exceeding $1,000, you may face up to 10 years in prison. For damage below $1,000, the imprisonment could be up to one year.

Illinois State Statutes on Destruction of Government Property

720 ILCS 5/21-1 – The Illinois Criminal Code addresses the criminal destruction of government property under this statute. Like its federal counterpart, the Illinois law also covers a wide array of government property.

  • Intentional or Knowingly: The action must be intentional or knowingly done to attract criminal liability.
  • Penalties: Depending on the circumstances, such as the intent and the value of the property, this offense could be classified anywhere from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 2 felony.

Key Differences Between Federal and Illinois Laws

  1. Jurisdiction: Federal laws often apply when the property belongs to the U.S. government, while Illinois laws apply to property owned by the state or local governments in Illinois.
  2. Valuation: Federal laws usually consider the monetary value of the damaged property in determining the severity of the punishment, while Illinois laws may also consider other factors, like the significance of the property to the community.
  3. Charging Agencies: Federal offenses typically involve federal agencies such as the FBI for investigation, whereas state offenses involve local or state police.

Penalties for Destruction of Government Property

Federal Penalties

  • Above $1,000: Up to 10 years in federal prison
  • Below $1,000: Up to one year in federal prison
  • Fines as per the federal sentencing guidelines

Illinois Penalties

  • Class A Misdemeanor: Up to one year in county jail and a fine up to $2,500
  • Class 2 Felony: 3 to 7 years in state prison and a fine up to $25,000

Possible Legal Defenses

Both federal and Illinois state laws require that the act be done “willfully” or “intentionally” for a conviction. Thus, lack of intent can be a possible defense. Other defenses may include:

  • Insufficient Evidence: Arguing that the evidence presented is not strong enough to warrant a conviction.
  • Mistake of Fact: If the defendant can prove they genuinely believed the property did not belong to the government, it could serve as a defense.

Importance of Legal Counsel

Given the potential severity of the penalties, both at the federal and state levels, competent legal counsel is essential. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the criminal justice system, whether you are charged under federal or Illinois statutes.

Destruction of government property is a severe offense, attracting substantial penalties under both federal and Illinois laws. Both jurisdictions have unique elements and require specific criteria to be met for a conviction. Understanding these nuances is crucial when facing such charges, making it vital to consult experienced legal professionals for tailored advice.

Aggressive Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer with Decades of Experience

Over the past two decades, David L. Freidberg has gained a dearth of knowledge on the Illinois Compiled Statutes Criminal Code, evidence, rules of criminal procedure, and the U.S. Constitution. David L. Freidberg strives to combine his training, experience, skills, and passion for serving vulnerable communities to provide clients with unparalleled representation. To schedule a free consultation, contact The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg 24/7 at (312) 560-7100 or toll free at (800) 803-1442.

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