What are the Penalties for Vandalism in Illinois?

Updated on 04/10/2023 / Under

There are strict penalties for vandalism in Illinois, ranging from misdemeanors to felonies resulting in jail time. The severity of punishment depends on the degree of criminal property damage, from fines to long prison sentences. A misdemeanor can result in a maximum fine of $2,500 and up to one year in prison, while a felony can lead to fines of up to $25,000 and incarceration for up to three years. The offender may also be required to pay restitution for any damage caused.

Ktenas Law is a criminal defense firm located in Chicago, Illinois. Our dedicated criminal defense lawyers at Ktenas Law specialize in defending clients from felony convictions and protecting their rights in court. They understand that facing a felony conviction for criminal damage can be frightening and intimidating, and they are dedicated to providing their clients with the best possible defense.

Call Ktenas Law today and receive a 100% free consultation about your case!

What is Considered Vandalism in Illinois?

In the state of Illinois, vandalism is considered a serious offense. The law (720 ILCS 5 § 21-2) states that intentionally opening a fire hydrant or causing damage to someone else's personal property through the use of fire or explosives, whether done recklessly or not, can result in criminal charges.

Knowingly damaging another person's property, starting a fire on someone else's property, or planting a stink bomb on another person's land or building are also considered criminal acts. These charges are taken very seriously and can result in jail time and heavy financial penalties for those convicted of vandalism.

someone doing graffiti on a wall in Illinois

The consequences and forms of punishment for the defacement of property can be severe. Those convicted of committing crimes such as malicious destruction of public or private property may face fines up to $1,000 and even up to 12 months in jail depending on the severity of the crime.

Furthermore, it is not unheard of for property owners associated with vandalism cases to seek civil action to recover any lost value resulting from the destruction caused by the criminal act; thus further increasing costs and felony charges for those found guilty.

In Illinois what is Considered an Act of Vandalism?

Vandalism is any intentional damage to public or private property to gain attention, provoke fear, or simply show disrespect for the object of destruction.  Criminal damage can take many forms, from minor graffiti to the destruction of a historical building. Common acts of criminal defacement include spray painting walls, writing offensive words on public buildings and monuments using a writing instrument, knocking down street signs, smashing windows on a railroad train or farm equipment, egging someone else's home or car, and defacing a park bench with graffiti.

Quick Tips: 5 Things Your Criminal Defense Attorney Should Be Doing For You!

The scope of damage to property done by these acts varies widely and often depends on how much time and intent the vandal puts into their destruction. Vandalism is not only about destruction; it is often seen as a sign of disrespect toward a community or group that holds something important to them. Unfortunately, anyone can suffer damage to property due to such actions. 

What is the Consequence of Vandalism in Illinois?

Vandalism is an act of malicious damage or destruction of property and in Illinois, it’s punishable by fines and even prison time. The severity of the defacement of property charges determines the level of penalties an offender may face, ranging from misdemeanor to felony. For example, tampering with firefighting equipment without proper authorization is a Class B misdemeanor and incurs a fine of up to $500. Engaging in non-consensual harassment of a domestic animal is considered a Class 4 felony, which may result in a fine of up to $25,000 and a three-year prison sentence.

Similarly, shooting at any portion of a railroad locomotive is considered a Class 4 felony. However, lesser acts of vandalism causing less than $500 in damages are considered mere misdemeanors and only carry fines worth up to $2,500 and/or imprisonment for less than one year. On the other hand, if the damages caused reach between $500 -$10,000 then the criminal will face serious consequences such as being charged with a Class 4 felony due to its aggravated nature when compared to the other forms of vandalism.

Juvenile Vandalism Laws

Vandalism is one of the most common juvenile crimes in Illinois and can lead to various penalties. Punishments range from community service to incarceration, depending on the severity of the property crime, acts of vandalism committed, and the offender's age. The aim is to teach youth responsibility and accountability while protecting public and private property.

For first-time offenders, if found guilty, they may pay restitution or fines. Substantial fines are considered effective in discouraging subsequent offenses.  Counseling or therapy may also be ordered. Penalties can be tailored not to disrupt schooling or parental support. 

windows after being heavily graffitied

The juvenile court system handles the case, and judges and prosecutors determine appropriate penalties based on several factors. Potential penalties include probation or community service, depending on the crime's severity and circumstances. Juvenile detention center confinement is possible, but the sentence depends on the judge's evaluation of each case. 

The Restorative Justice Model

In Illinois, restorative justice is an alternative model to traditional criminal offense prosecution for teen vandalism. This approach encourages accountability and repair for the damage caused by vandalism to private and public property. It also allows for a resolution that involves both the victim and offender in the process of determining appropriate consequences.

Restorative justice emphasizes repairing harm done to the community or individual rather than solely focusing on punishment. This model takes into consideration the individual’s criminal history and circumstances to create an outcome to restore and heal relationships.

What Conditions May Result in a Vandalism Offense That Leads to a Civil Lawsuit?

A conviction of vandalism can lead to the offender facing a civil lawsuit. The victim can sue the offender in civil court and ask for compensation for any harm to property caused by the offense. Some states acknowledge that victims of vandalism deserve compensation for their losses, and permit them to file a civil suit against the offender. Even if the offender was previously charged with criminal vandalism, the victim might still have the option of filing a separate civil suit for damages to property crimes.

Helpful Hints: Check Out the Benefits of a Criminal Defense Lawyer vs. a Public Defender

A victim can bring a claim in civil court asking for payment of damages that are equal to or greater than what was lost due to the vandalization. These damages include repair costs or replacements for properties damaged during the incident. Depending on the severity of the crime, a judge may also award punitive damages intended as further punishment and deterrence on top of regular compensatory damages. 

Contact Ktenas Law Today!

Accused of vandalism? In Illinois, penalties vary based on the severity of the damage. Charges can range from a fine to a prison sentence. Criminal mischief, property damage, and burglary charges may apply. Ktenas Law Chicago can help create a strong defense strategy to avoid fines and jail time.

If you are wrongly accused of criminal damage in Illinois, seek legal counsel for mistaken identity from a criminal defense attorney. Ktenas Law's legal team can protect your rights and work towards the best possible outcome for your case. Contact us today at (312) 756-8652 for a free case review.