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Illinois Criminal Code of 1961

Article 21: Damage to Property

Many laws in the Illinois criminal code were created with the intent to protect private property. In this section, the law protects property rights by prohibiting anyone from damaging someone elses property. There are many situations in which a defendant might find himself facing charges of criminal damage to property. A few of these include knowingly damaging the property of another person, starting a fire on someones land, tampering with a fire hydrant, or shooting a firearm at a railroad train, among many others. Depending on the nature of the crime, a sentence may qualify anywhere from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class 2 felony.

If the defendant damaged any government-supported property, such as a city hall, he or she could be convicted of a separate crime described in this section: criminal damage to government-supported property. Depending on the amount of monetary damage caused, a violation could be up to a Class 1 felony. A fine equal to the value of the damage may also be imposed.

Crimes involving vandalism are also explained in this section of Illinois law. These include institutionalized vandalism and criminal defacement of property. Although the two are similar, there are differences between them. A person commits the former when he or she damages a religious, school, or community building due to prejudice against individuals based on race, religion, or national origins. Depending on the extent of damaged incurred, a convict defendant could find himself facing either a Class 2 or Class 3 felony. The latter violation applies often in the case of unwanted graffiti. If a defendant has knowingly damaged someone elses property using paint, etching, or any writing instrument without consent, he or she could be found guilty of criminal defacement of property. The sentence varies according to the amount of damage caused, but a conviction could carry up to a Class 4 felony status.

Need an Illinois criminal defense attorney? If you've been arrested for damaging property in Illinois, call our Chicago criminal defense attorneys today at (312) 466-9466 to discuss your case.

The text below comes from Article 21 of the Illinois Criminal Code of 1961. This law may have changed -- please read the important legal disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 - Article 21

Sec. 21-1. Criminal damage to property.
    (720 ILCS 5/21-1)

(1) A person commits an illegal act when he:

(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 his consent; or

(e) 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; or

(f) damages any property, other than as described in subsection (b) of Section 20-1, with intent to defraud an insurer; or

(g) knowingly shoots a firearm at any portion of a railroad train.

When the charge of criminal damage to property exceeding a specified value is brought, the extent of the damage is an element of the offense to be resolved by the trier of fact as either exceeding or not exceeding the specified value.

It is an affirmative defense to a violation of item (a), (c), or (e) of this Section that the owner of the property or land damaged consented to such damage.

(2) The acts described in items (a), (b), (c), (e), and (f) are Class A misdemeanors if the damage to property does not exceed $300. The acts described in items (a), (b), (c), (e), and (f) are Class 4 felonies if the damage to property does not exceed $300 if the damage occurs to property of a school or place of worship or to farm equipment or immovable items of agricultural production, including but not limited to grain elevators, grain bins, and barns. The act described in item (d) is a Class 4 felony if the damage to property does not exceed $10,000. The act described in item (g) is a Class 4 felony. The acts described in items (a), (b), (c), (e), and (f) are Class 4 felonies if the damage to property exceeds $300 but does not exceed $10,000. The acts described in items (a) through (f) are Class 3 felonies if the damage to property exceeds $300 but does not exceed $10,000 if the damage occurs to property of a school or place of worship or to farm equipment or immovable items of agricultural production, including but not limited to grain elevators, grain bins, and barns. The acts described in items (a) through (f) are Class 3 felonies if the damage to property exceeds $10,000 but does not exceed $100,000. The acts described in items (a) through (f) are Class 2 felonies if the damage to property exceeds $10,000 but does not exceed $100,000 if the damage occurs to property of a school or place of worship or to farm equipment or immovable items of agricultural production, including but not limited to grain elevators, grain bins, and barns. The acts described in items (a) through (f) are Class 2 felonies if the damage to property exceeds $100,000. The acts described in items (a) through (f) are Class 1 felonies if the damage to property exceeds $100,000 and the damage occurs to property of a school or place of worship or to farm equipment or immovable items of agricultural production, including but not limited to grain elevators, grain bins, and barns. If the damage to property exceeds $10,000, the court shall impose upon the offender a fine equal to the value of the damages to the property.

For the purposes of this subsection (2), "farm equipment" means machinery or other equipment used in farming.

(3) In addition to any other sentence that may be imposed, a court shall order any person convicted of criminal damage to property to perform community service for not less than 30 and not more than 120 hours, if community service is available in the jurisdiction and is funded and approved by the county board of the county where the offense was committed. In addition, whenever any person is placed on supervision for an alleged offense under this Section, the supervision shall be conditioned upon the performance of the community service.

This subsection does not apply when the court imposes a sentence of incarceration.

(4) In addition to any criminal penalties imposed for a violation of this Section, if a person is convicted of or placed on supervision for knowingly damaging or destroying crops of another, including crops intended for personal, commercial, research, or developmental purposes, the person is liable in a civil action to the owner of any crops damaged or destroyed for money damages up to twice the market value of the crops damaged or destroyed. (Source: P.A. 95-553, eff. 6-1-08; 96-529, eff. 8-14-09.)

Sec. 21-1.1. Criminal Damage of Fire Fighting Apparatus, Hydrants or Equipment.
    (720 ILCS 5/21-1.1)

Whoever wilfully 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, is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. (Source: P.A. 78-255.)

Sec. 21-1.2. Institutional vandalism.
    (720 ILCS 5/21-1.2)

(a) A person commits institutional vandalism when, by reason of the actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion or national origin of another individual or group of individuals, regardless of the existence of any other motivating factor or factors, he or she knowingly and without consent inflicts damage to any of the following properties:

(1) A church, synagogue, mosque, or other building, structure or place used for religious worship or other religious purpose;

(2) A cemetery, mortuary, or other facility used for the purpose of burial or memorializing the dead;

(3) A school, educational facility or community center;

(4) The grounds adjacent to, and owned or rented by, any institution, facility, building, structure or place described in paragraphs (1), (2) or (3) of this subsection (a); or

(5) Any personal property contained in any institution, facility, building, structure or place described in paragraphs (1), (2) or (3) of this subsection (a).

(b) Institutional vandalism is a Class 3 felony if the damage to the property does not exceed $300. Institutional vandalism is a Class 2 felony if the damage to the property exceeds $300. Institutional vandalism is a Class 2 felony for any second or subsequent offense.

(b-5) Upon imposition of any sentence, the trial court shall also either order restitution paid to the victim or impose a fine up to $1,000. In addition, any order of probation or conditional discharge entered following a conviction or an adjudication of delinquency shall include a condition that the offender perform public or community service of no less than 200 hours if that service is established in the county where the offender was convicted of institutional vandalism. The court may also impose any other condition of probation or conditional discharge under this Section.

(c) Independent of any criminal prosecution or the result of that prosecution, a person suffering damage to property or injury to his or her person as a result of institutional vandalism may bring a civil action for damages, injunction or other appropriate relief. The court may award actual damages, including damages for emotional distress, or punitive damages. A judgment may include attorney's fees and costs. The parents or legal guardians of an unemancipated minor, other than guardians appointed under the Juvenile Court Act or the Juvenile Court Act of 1987, shall be liable for the amount of any judgment for actual damages rendered against the minor under this subsection in an amount not exceeding the amount provided under Section 5 of the Parental Responsibility Law. (Source: P.A. 92-830, eff. 1-1-03.)

Sec. 21-1.3. Criminal defacement of property.
    (720 ILCS 5/21-1.3)

(a) A person commits criminal defacement of property when the person knowingly damages the property of another by defacing, deforming, or otherwise damaging the property by the use of paint or any other similar substance, or by the use of a writing instrument, etching tool, or any other similar device. It is an affirmative defense to a violation of this Section that the owner of the property damaged consented to such damage.

(b) Criminal defacement of property is a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense if the aggregate value of the damage to the property does not exceed $300. Criminal defacement of property is a Class 4 felony if the aggregate value of the damage to property does not exceed $300 and the property damaged is a school building or place of worship. Criminal defacement of property is a Class 4 felony for a second or subsequent conviction or if the aggregate value of the damage to the property exceeds $300. Criminal defacement of property is a Class 3 felony if the aggregate value of the damage to property exceeds $300 and the property damaged is a school building or place of worship. In addition to any other sentence that may be imposed for a violation of this Section that is 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 or the unit of government to abate, remediate, repair, or remove the effect of the damage to the property. To the extent permitted by law, reimbursement for the costs of abatement, remediation, repair, or removal shall be payable to the person who incurred the costs. In addition to any other sentence that may be imposed, a court shall order any person convicted of criminal defacement of property to perform community service for not less than 30 and not more than 120 hours, if community service is available in the jurisdiction. The community service shall include, but need not be limited to, the cleanup and repair of the damage to property that was caused by the offense, or similar damage to property located in the municipality or county in which the offense occurred. If the property damaged is a school building, the community service may include cleanup, removal, or painting over the defacement. In addition, whenever any person is placed on supervision for an alleged offense under this Section, the supervision shall be conditioned upon the performance of the community service. For the purposes of this subsection (b), aggregate value shall be determined by adding the value of the damage to one or more properties if the offenses were committed as part of a single course of conduct.

(Source: P.A. 95-553, eff. 6-1-08; 96-499, eff. 8-14-09.)

Sec. 21-1.4. Jackrocks.
    (720 ILCS 5/21-1.4)

(a) A person who knowingly sells, gives away, manufactures, purchases, or possesses a jackrock or who knowingly places, tosses, or throws a jackrock on public or private property commits a Class A misdemeanor.

(b) As used in this Section, "jackrock" means a caltrop or other object manufactured with one or more rounded or sharpened points, which when placed or thrown present at least one point at such an angle that it is peculiar to and designed for use in puncturing or damaging vehicle tires. It does not include a device designed to puncture or damage the tires of a vehicle driven over it in a particular direction, if a conspicuous and clearly visible warning is posted at the device's location, alerting persons to its presence.

(c) This Section does not apply to the possession, transfer, or use of jackrocks by any law enforcement officer in the course of his or her official duties. (Source: P.A. 89-130, eff. 7-14-95.)

Sec. 21-1.5. (Repealed).
    (720 ILCS 5/21-1.5)

(Source: P.A. 93-596, eff. 8-26-03. Repealed by P.A. 94-556, eff. 9-11-05.)

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DISCLAIMER: These excerpts from the law are provided for reference purposes only. Visitors to our Chicago criminal defense lawyer website should be aware that Illinois criminal laws have been amended many times and that Illinois crime laws posted on this site may not be current. In addition, Illinois criminal case law defines precedents for legal determinations that are not defined in the original laws.

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