How the Stay-at-Home Order Could Land Some Chicagoans Criminal Charges
A majority of Chicagoans are spending most of their days indoors thanks to the unprecedented stay-at-home order. Living through this quarantine order can be stressful and this tension can cause some people to make decisions they may not otherwise – decisions that can have legal consequences.
If you find yourself in a dispute with a neighbor because you’re now constantly at home due to the stay-at-home order or taking actions you normally wouldn’t due to boredom or stress, then it’s important to learn more about property crimes in Illinois. You certainly don’t want to find yourself unwittingly facing criminal charges for something you didn’t realize would have significant legal ramifications.
How Does Illinois Define Damage of Property?
Criminal damage of property in Illinois is defined as when someone damages the property of another knowingly and without the owner’s consent. This doesn’t only apply to taking a hammer to your neighbor’s favorite garden statue but can also to behaving recklessly with explosives such as fireworks or shooting at empty buildings. It can even apply to the animals owned by another person, such as hurting your neighbor’s dog because it was barking too much and annoying you.
Specific Types of Damage to Property in IL
There are a variety of violations that can be classified as criminal property damage. Some of the more specific examples of property crimes include:
Possession or Use of a Noxious Substance
You may think it’s funny to sneak a stink bomb into the basement of an annoying neighbor, but it can be a criminal act. Putting a stink bomb on someone else’s property without their consent is a property crime.
Criminal mischief occurs when you intentionally damage something owned by someone else that you had no right to damage.
If you were to intentionally impair or interrupt a public utility, such as water or power, then that would constitute a property crime.
Illinois Charges Associated with Criminal Property Damage
Often the charges you face for criminal property damage are in line with the dollar amount of damage done to the property. For example:
Class A Misdemeanor
If the damage or destruction to property is $300 or less, then you’ll likely face a Class A misdemeanor. This carries a punishment of up to a year in jail and a fine up to $2,500.
Class 4 Felony
For property damage crimes valued at more than $300 but less than $10,000, you can be charged with a Class 4 felony. This also applies if the property damage took place at a school, was inflicted on farm equipment, or occurred at a place of worship and the damage done was less than $300. Punishment for this level of a felony is between one and three years in prison as well as a fine up to $25,000.
Class 3 Felony
Class 3 felonies are applied when the property damage is determined to be more than $10,000 but less than $100,000. For farms, schools, and places of worship, you can be charged with a Class 3 felony is the damage was between $300 and $10,000.
The potential penalty for this class of felony is between two and five years in jail and a fine up to $25,000.
Class 2 Felony
This felony is faced if the damage valued at more than $100,000 or it took place at a school, farm, or place of worship and is valued at $10,000 to $100,000. It can result in between three and seven years in prison as well as a $25,000 fine.
Class 1 Felony
Property damage over $100,000 to a school, place of worship, or farm can result in four to 15 years in prison and a fine of $25,000.
If you find yourself bored at home, then try starting a new project on your own property instead of tampering with the property of someone else. Or better yet, Zoom with a friend to help reduce stress and boredom.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes. His work has been recognized by Avvo, Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, and others, and he has been featured on countless news outlets for his experience and knowledge in criminal law.