Chicago Property Crime Lawyer

Property crimes are those that involve knowing, reckless, or intentional damage or destruction of someone else’s property. Property crimes could include actions such as spray-painting graffiti on the side of a building, smashing someone’s window, or setting fire to someone’s property.

Illinois treats property crimes seriously, particularly when the damage is done to an occupied building or results in physical harm to another person. Property crimes can be misdemeanors — or they can be serious felony offenses with harsh statutory penalties, depending on the circumstances of the offense.

Being found guilty of a property crime such as arson or criminal damage to property in Illinois can result in:

  • A jail or prison sentence that disrupts your life
  • Payment of fines, fees, and restitution you may not be able to afford
  • A lifelong criminal record that can cause employers to refuse to hire you
  • Liability in a civil court if the victim chooses to sue you
  • Problems obtaining or keeping a professional license to work in your chosen career
  • Immigration consequences, including loss of your visa or work permit, denial of your citizenship application, or deportation

A property crime offense can have far-reaching effects on your life. However, with the help of a skilled Chicago property crime lawyer who mounts a strong defense on your behalf, you may be able to avoid or limit those consequences.

Common Types of Illinois Property Crimes

The phrase “property crimes” is a relatively broad term that can describe a number of different actions for which you may be charged in Illinois. Some common examples of property crimes include:

  • Arson — You may be charged with arson in Illinois when you use fire or explosives to knowingly damage another person’s property. If a person is present or someone is injured, you can be charged with aggravated arson. Arson and aggravated arson are both felony offenses in Illinois. Learn more about how these two offenses are defined and the potential penalties for a conviction.
  • Trespassing — You may be charged with criminal trespass when you knowingly enter someone else’s building or land without their consent or through the use of deception or remain there after you have been told to leave. Criminal trespass is a misdemeanor offense in Illinois. Learn more about what it means to trespass and the possible penalties if you’re convicted.
  • Criminal Damage to Property — In general, when you knowingly damage someone else’s property, you can be charged with the crime of criminal damage to property in Illinois. The law defines a number of specific actions that may result in criminal damage to property charges in 720 ILCS 5/21-1. Criminal damage to property can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the damage and other factors. Learn more about the offense of criminal damage to property and the possible consequences of a conviction.
  • Institutional Vandalism — When you’re suspected of damaging a religious building, cemetery, school, community center or personal property contained in those types of places because of another person’s race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, or belief system, you can be charged with a felony in Illinois. Learn more about the crime of institutional vandalism and the possible penalties if you’re convicted.

Even misdemeanor property crimes may be punished with a jail sentence. If you’ve been charged with arson, criminal trespass, criminal damage to property, institutional vandalism, or another property crime, your best chance at avoiding the consequences of a guilty finding is with the help of an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney.

Contact a Qualified Chicago Property Crime Lawyer

When you’re charged with a crime, it’s not a foregone conclusion that you’ll be found guilty. Every person is innocent unless proven guilty, and it’s the burden of a prosecutor to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. You may have options for fighting your charge with the help of a strong Chicago property crime lawyer.

Michael O’Meara is a Chicago criminal defense attorney with more than 20 years of experience that includes trying cases both for the prosecution and for the defense. This experience gives him a unique view of the criminal process in Chicago and the surrounding area — and an ability to build a case that anticipates how a prosecutor thinks and how that prosecutor will argue against you in court.

O’Meara is a skilled criminal trial lawyer who has achieved successful results on behalf of countless people charged with crimes. Contact O’Meara Law LLC today at to learn how attorney O’Meara can put his skill and experience to work for you.