I have written in the past on the issue of mass incarceration in the United States.In my opinion, one of the reasons our prisons are so overcrowded is because We lock people up for nonviolent “crimes” Usually there are no victims.
The truth is, the 50 states that make up our great country have thousands of laws that can put anyone in jail depending on the mood of the local prosecutor, and it really messes up our criminal justice system and prison system . From my perspective, it’s hard to answer the question about what crime will land you in jail because there is absolutely no equality in the system.
I know this may sound stupid to some, but the Attorney in your county/city is one of the most powerful people in local government. They decide whether to prosecute any case that comes across their desk. They don’t have to press charges if they don’t want to, regardless of the crime.
If the system is so broken that we don’t hesitate to put non-violent criminals in jail, what about when someone actually becomes violent? Can you go to jail for criminal damage?
In today’s blog post, I will cover the following topics:
- What is criminal damage?
- What is the penalty for criminal damage?
What is criminal damage?
Criminal damage is essentially the crime of destroying property. This offense is committed when a person intentionally damages another’s property without permission. Definitions vary by state, but the following acts can be defined as criminal damages:
- Deliberately engaging in acts that cause damage to another’s property
- Acting recklessly, damaging property with fire or explosion
- Deliberately starting a fire on land belonging to someone else
- Intentionally injuring a pet that belongs to another person
- Destruction of property to collect insurance premiums
In some states, intentionally causing damage to another’s property is called “malicious damage to property,” but that’s pretty much the same thing as criminal damage.
The important thing to remember about this type of crime – whether so-called criminal damage or malicious damage – is that someone willfully and intentionally causes damage to the property of another person.
However, in some states, you may be charged with criminal damage for gross negligence or reckless conduct if the damage caused was serious.
What is the penalty for criminal damage?
Penalties vary as each state’s laws govern criminal damage to property. Depending on the severity of the damage, this crime can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony.
Often, the cost of repairing the damage done determines whether someone is charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. For example, in South Carolina, it is a misdemeanor if the cost of repairing the damage is $2,000 or less. The penalty is a fine of up to $1,000 and/or 30 days in prison.
A criminal damage charge is a felony if the damage is between $2,000 and $10,000. This can come with some jail time. In South Carolina, the penalty for felony criminal damage is imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
If the damage exceeds $10,000, the penalty is up to 10 years in prison. These felony convictions may also be punishable by fines, as determined by the sentencing judge.
In Illinois, criminal damage charges are misdemeanors if the damage does not exceed $300. This could result in up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. The offense is a felony if the value of the property damage is more than $300 but less than $10,000. It carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
For Illinois damages worth more than $10,000 but less than $100,000, five years in prison and a $25,000 fine are possible.
In Missouri, first degree criminal property damage occurs when someone intentionally causes damage worth $750 or more. This is considered a Class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
No matter which state you are in, the sentence for a misdemeanor is a sentence in a city or county jail. Felony convictions are served in state prisons.
What is the penalty for criminal damage in your state? Are the penalties based on the value of the damaged property? Let us know in the comments below.