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Vandalism in Illinois

In Illinois, vandalism is considered criminal damage to property. According to 720 ILCS 5 § 21-2, a person can be charged with criminal damage to property if they intentionally open a fire hydrant without proper authorization or recklessly cause damage to someone else’s property by using fire or explosives. A person also commits criminal damage to property when they knowingly:

  • Damage someone’s else property
  • Start a fire on someone else’s property
  • Plant or detonate a stink bomb or any offensive smelling compound on someone else’s property (i.e. on land or in a building that belongs to someone else)
  • Injure someone else’s pet without their consent
  • Damage someone else’s property (not as defined in § 20-1(2a)) with the intent to defraud an insurer
  • Shoot a firearm at a railroad train
  • Cut, injure, damage, deface, destroy, or tamper with any fire hydrants, public or private firefighter equipment, or apparatuses connected with firefighting equipment without proper authorization

What Is Considered an Act of Vandalism?

Vandalism involves deliberately destroying or damaging public or private property. Vandalism can include:

  • Altering or knocking down a street sign
  • Breaking someone’s windows
  • Defacing a building or park bench with graffiti
  • Egging someone else’s home or car
  • Keying someone else’s car or motorcycle
  • Slashing someone’s tires
  • Any act that damages someone else’s property

What Is the Punishment for Vandalism in Illinois?

Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony for vandalism or any act of criminal damage is dependent on the fiscal amount of damages caused or the type of property that was damaged.

  • Opening a fire hydrant or damaging or tampering with firefighting equipment is a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500.
  • Harming someone’s pet without their consent is a Class 4 felony, which is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment for up to three years.
  • Shooting a firearm at any part of a railway train is also a Class 4 felony.
  • Committing the other acts of vandalism and causing damage amounting to no more than $500 is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and imprisonment for less than a year.
  • Committing the other acts of vandalism and causing damage amounting to $500-$10,000 is a Class 4 felony.

For acts of vandalism, excluding shooting a firearm at a train, tampering with firefighting equipment, or opening a hydrant, offenders can be charged with a:

  • Class 3 felony, if the damage totals $10,000-$100,000 or totals $500-$10,000 and involved a school, farm equipment, a place of worship, immovable agricultural production item (i.e. grain elevator, grain bin, etc.), or a memorial for an individual member or group of police officers, firefighters, veterans, or National Guard/Armed Forces. A Class 3 felony is punishable by a fine of no more than $25,000 and imprisonment for up to five years.
  • Class 2 felony, if the property damages totals over $100,000 or totals $10,000-$100,000 and involved a school, farm equipment, a place of worship, immovable agricultural production item (i.e. grain elevator, grain bin, etc.), or a memorial for an individual member or group of police officers, firefighters, veterans, or National Guard/Armed Forces. A Class 2 felony is punishable by a fine of no more than $25,000 and imprisonment for up to seven years.
  • Class 1 felony, if the damages exceed $100,000 and involved a school, farm equipment, a place of worship, immovable agricultural production item (i.e. grain elevator, grain bin, etc.), or a memorial for an individual member or group of police officers, firefighters, veterans, or National Guard/Armed Forces. A Class 1 felony is punishable by a fine of no more than $25,000 and imprisonment for up to fifteen years.

It is also important to note that in cases where the damages are over $10,000, the court will impose a fine that equates to the amount of property damage. Offenders may also be required to complete 30-120 hours of community service, and parents or guardians can be held liable for injuries, losses, and/or damages that their minor (i.e. child age 11-18) caused because of Illinois’ Parental Responsibility Law.

Get Legal Help

What may have started as a Senior prank or dare between friends can result in serious consequences for teens. If you or a loved one have been arrested for criminal damage to property, contact our team as soon as possible. Known for providing clients with quality legal counsel throughout the entire process, our attorney can help you develop a solid defense strategy, such as:

  • Mistaken identity. We can argue that the witness wouldn’t be able to accurately identify you because of visibility issues (i.e. nighttime limitations, grainy photo or video, etc.).
  • Consent. If the owner of the property gave the alleged offender permission to mark the property (with graffiti, writing, paint, etc.), the charges may be dismissed.
  • Lack of probable cause. We can poke holes in the prosecution’s assertions or case by claiming they cannot irrefutably prove the elements of the offense.

Need help beating vandalism charges? Contact the Law Office of Steven Fine online or via phone (312) 436-0638 today.

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