Dupage County Lawyers

Criminal Mischief Charges in Illinois

Criminal mischief laws in Illinois are intended to protect property owned by individuals or the public or government. The laws are extensive and complex, as there are many acts that could be considered criminal damage to property. Punishments depend on the specifics and seriousness of the charges, and they range from misdemeanors to felonies and could include fines and even time in prison.

Crimes against property are taken seriously in Illinois, and prosecutors will attempt to get the harshest sentences possible. If you are facing these charges, you need to be represented by an experienced defense lawyer who knows what’s at stake.

The seasoned and compassionate Illinois criminal defense attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. have extensive experience in defending clients charged with criminal mischief, as well as other criminal charges.  We know the courts, the judges, and the system and are aware that there are defenses that may lead to a dismissal of your charges or result in a lesser penalty. We take a team-oriented approach to handling criminal cases and are aggressive in the courtroom.  We offer a free consultation to examine the issues in your case and determine what we can do to help fight for your rights and freedom.

With office locations in Woodridge and Chicago, we represent clients throughout the entire Chicagoland area. Call our DuPage County criminal mischief lawyers today at 630-305-0222 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.

What are the criminal mischief laws?

The laws in Illinois seek to protect property by prohibiting anyone from damaging property belonging to someone else.  Examples of property crimes include vandalism, knowingly starting a fire, tampering with a fire hydrant, shooting a firearm at a railroad train, or injuring animals. Under the Illinois Criminal Code of 1961, the laws cover damage in the following areas:

1) Criminal damage to property

It is illegal when a person:

(a) knowingly damages any property of another; or
(b) recklessly by means of fire or explosive damages property of another; or
(c) knowingly starts a fire on the land of another; or
(d) knowingly injures a domestic animal of another without consent; or
(e) knowingly sets off any stink bomb or any offensive smelling compound on another’s property; or
(f) damages any property with intent to defraud an insurer; or
(g) knowingly shoots a firearm at any portion of a railroad train.

It is a Class A misdemeanor if the damage done is valued at less than $300, and it carries a potential sentence of one year in jail and fines of $2,500.   Penalties then increase according to the amount of damage and the type of property or facility damaged.  On the high end, it becomes a Class 1 Felony if the damage is done to a place of worship, a school, or farm equipment, and the damage is valued at more than $100,000.  The potential penalty then becomes 4 to 15 years in prison and fines of $25,000.

2) Criminal Damage of Fire Fighting Apparatus, Hydrants or Equipment

It is a Class B misdemeanor if anyone willfully and maliciously cuts, injures, damages, tampers with or destroys or defaces any fire hydrant or any fire hose or any fire engine, or other public or private fire fighting equipment, or any apparatus appertaining to such equipment, or intentionally opens any fire hydrant without proper authorization.  This is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and fines of up to $1,500.

3) Institutional vandalism.
Institutional vandalism occurs when someone knowingly and without consent inflicts damage to any of the following properties:

  • A church, synagogue, mosque, or other building, structure or place used for religious worship or purpose;
  • A cemetery, mortuary, or other facility used for burial or memorializing the dead;
  • A school, educational facility or community center;
  • The grounds adjacent to, and owned or rented by these facilities, or
  • Any personal property contained in these facilities.

Institutional vandalism is a Class 3 felony if the damage to the property does not exceed $300, but it becomes a Class 2 felony if the damage exceeds $300 or for any second or subsequent offense.

 4) Criminal defacement of property.

This occurs when a person knowingly damages another’s property by defacing, deforming, or damaging the property using paint or similar substances or a writing instrument or etching.

Criminal defacement of property is a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense if damage to the property does not exceed $300, but the act becomes a Class 4 felony if the property damaged is a school building or place of worship, for a second or subsequent conviction, or if damage exceeds $300.  It becomes a Class 3 felony if the damage exceeds $300 and the property damaged is a school building or place of worship.

In addition, for offenses chargeable as a Class 3 or Class 4 felony, a person convicted of criminal defacement of property shall be subject to a mandatory minimum fine of $500 plus the actual costs incurred by the property owner to repair the damage to the property, and the defendant must perform community service, if available in the jurisdiction.

5) Jackrocks

It is a Class A misdemeanor when anyone knowingly sells, gives away, manufactures, purchases, or possesses a jackrock (a caltrop or other object manufactured with one or more rounded or sharpened points) or who knowingly places, tosses, or throws a jackrock on public or private property. Jackrocks are designed to damage vehicle tires.

6) Criminal Trespass

In addition, there are Illinois laws against criminal trespass to real property which occurs when someone knowingly and without lawful authority enters or remains within or on a building or land, field, agricultural building, or orchard after receiving notice by the owner not to do so; or falsely represents their identity to the owner, or intentionally removes a notice posted on residential real estate.

Put Your Trust In Us — Contact Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. for a Free Consultation.

If you have been charged with any crime against property in Illinois, you need to hire the best criminal defense attorney that you can find.  The experienced and seasoned Illinois criminal defense attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. will examine the facts, the individuals involved, and the evidence available in every situation.  We work with our clients throughout the criminal process to come up with an effective defense strategy and determine whether to take a case to trial. Our goal is always to minimize the negative impact of the situation and to focus on protecting your freedoms, liberties, rights, and your ability to find employment.

We are aggressive litigators and will answer all your questions and make sure you fully understand the facts surrounding your case.  We represent clients in DuPage County, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook, and the greater Chicagoland area.

Delaying can only make your situation worse, so contact us online or call 630-305-0222 today to schedule your free initial consultation.

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