You matter less, Part III

I’m hoping that somebody somewhere steps up soon and explains this stuff to me.  Even as an attorney I’ve never understood, and I still don’t, why normal people- people like you and I- are the least important people in criminal law.  Break my stuff? That’s bad. Break the government’s stuff?  That’s really bad, right?  Steal my stuff? That’s bad. Steal from a corporate retailer, though? That’s somehow worse.

On that note, I came across this little gem the other day.  Like the first link above, it talks about damaging property:

[section_alt background_color=”]
(720 ILCS 5/21-1) (from Ch. 38, par. 21-1)

Sec. 21-1. Criminal damage to property.
(a) A person commits criminal damage to property when he or she: (1) knowingly damages any property of another…
* * *
(d) Sentence.
(1) A violation of subsection (a) shall have the following penalties
* * *
(B) A violation of paragraph (1), (2), (3), (5), or (6) is a Class A misdemeanor when the damage to the property does not exceed $300.
C) A violation of paragraph (1), (2), (3),(5), or (6) is a Class 4 felony when the damage to property does not exceed $300 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 or property which memorializes or honors an individual or group of police officers, fire fighters, members of the United States Armed Forces, National Guard, or veterans…
[/section_alt]
For those arm-chair attorneys not scoring at home, I went ahead and highlighted the nonsense part: the part where if somebody breaks your stuff it’s a misdemeanor.  Unless your stuff memorializes a cop or group of cops.  Then it’s a felony.

There is no doubt that it’s a bad idea to break anybody’s memorial of anything.  You shouldn’t do it, obviously.  Every attorney would advise you against it.  I don’t understand, though, why breaking your cop memorial license plate is somehow worse than damaging my “Land of Lincoln” non-memorial license plate.  Was Lincoln not important?

 

The reality is that everybody who is being memorialized is special to some person or group of people- otherwise the memorial wouldn’t exist.  There’s really not a reason for the legislature to pick-and-choose just whose memory is more important.

Author: matthaiduk

Matt Haiduk is a criminal defense lawyer in Illinois. He loves his dog. And pizza.

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