The crime of criminal damage to property is defined in Illinois by 720 ILCS 5/21-1 as follows. Criminal damage to property is commonly thought of as “vandalism” but can also cover other offenses in Illinois. A person commits criminal damage to property when he or she:
(1) knowingly damages any property of another;
(2) recklessly by means of fire or explosive damages property of another;
(3) knowingly starts a fire on the land of another;
(4) knowingly injures a domestic animal of another without his or her consent;
(5) knowingly deposits on the land or in the building of another any stink bomb or any offensive smelling compound and thereby intends to interfere with the use by another of the land or building;
(6) knowingly damages any property, other than as described in paragraph (2) of subsection (a) of Section 20-1, with intent to defraud an insurer;
(7) knowingly shoots a firearm at any portion of a railroad train;
(8) knowingly, without proper authorization, cuts, injures, damages, defaces, destroys, or tampers with any fire hydrant or any public or private fire fighting equipment, or any apparatus appertaining to fire fighting equipment; or
(9) intentionally, without proper authorization, opens any fire hydrant.
The severity of a criminal damage to property charge in Illinois depends upon the amount of damage caused, and other circumstances.
- For property damage of under $300, criminal damage to property is Class A Misdemeanor. The maximum sentence is a year in the county jail.
- For property damage that is greater than $300 but less than $10,000, then the charge is a Class 4 Felony, which can result in a term of 1 to 3 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections (prison).
- For property damage of more than $10,000 but under $100,000, the charge is a Class 3 Felony, which can carry a prison term of 2 to 5 years.
- For property damage that exceeds $100,000 then the charge is a Class 2 Felony in Illinois, calls for a 3 to 7 year prison term.
In cases where the property that was damaged is government owned, or part of a church or other religious institution, or is an animal, or is part of a farm, those penalties are increased.
As the foregoing makes clear, criminal damage to property is a serious offense in Illinois. For that reason, a person who is charged with criminal damage to property is wise to seek an attorney at once.