Schoolyard pranks are likely not foreign to any American teenager. However, schoolyard pranks that end up with pranksters facing charges for felony crimes are a different story. Although schoolyard pranks may not have the same sound of severity as drug crimes or violent crimes, felony charges for damage to property are prosecuted rigorously in Illinois, and come with many penalties and consequences. Two Chicago teens are facing this reality after a large-scale prank on a west suburban high school.
The Chicago Tribune reports that a group of over 100 students played a prank on Riverside-Brookfield High School earlier in October. Most of the students spread and threw toilet paper around the school and spayed shaving cream on the grounds, which police believe is a Riverside-Brookfield High School tradition around homecoming time. However, in addition to the traditional follies, police discovered much more dubious pranks on the school grounds, including a crate of live chickens, spray-painted surfaces and foam sprayed in door locks, pieces of furniture, and pornographic pictures with notes referring to school staff. The overall price tag of the prank rang in at about $3,500 in damage to the school’s property.
18-year-old Fard C. Johnson and 17-year-old Raul A. Garcia of North Riverside were charged this week in connection with the prank. They both face charges of felony criminal damage to state-supported property after video footage revealed that Mr. Johnson spray-painted the building and Mr. Garcia damaged the school’s locks. Mr. Johnson was arrested and was released on bond, while Mr. Garcia is being held by the police until his bond hearing.
Under Illinois criminal law 720 ILCS 5/21-1, a person is guilty of committing criminal damage to property when he or she knowingly damages the property of another person. This can also include acts such as recklessly damaging property by using explosives, starting a fire on another person’s property, injuring a domestic animal, and using a stink bomb in a building. Generally, violations of the law result in misdemeanor charges when the damaged property does not exceed $300 in value. However, damage to school property, or other state property, places of worship, and certain farm areas or equipment under $300 is a Class 4 felony. Damage to property of such places in an amount between $300 and $10,000 is a Class 3 felony. Felony charges can bring with them jail time, fines, penalties, and other severe consequences.
Although felony criminal damage to property may not be as high-profile a crime as robbery, murder, drug crimes, or other violent crimes, it is still seriously prosecuted in Illinois. Young offenders and older offenders alike likely face more than a criminal record if convicted of felony criminal damage to property.
If you have been charged with violating Illinois criminal laws, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. A defense attorney can help explain the charges against you and can determine the best defense strategy for your case. Contact an attorney at Goldman & Associates today for a confidential consultation.