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Right now, it’s hard to miss that it’s election season. Political signs are everywhere and in such a highly polarized political climate, the urge to do something to your neighbor’s political sign can feel overwhelming.
Take a deep breath!
While it’s not against the law to disagree with someone’s political views, it is against the law to tamper with someone else’s property. So if you mess with your Colorado neighbor’s political signs there could be legal ramifications.
In fact, getting caught for criminal tampering could make it impossible for you to cast your vote in the next election! Read on to find out more.
Criminal tampering is defined under the law as tampering with another person’s property with the intent to cause annoyance, impairment of services, inconvenience, or injury. This offense can be charged in the first or second degree.
The law in Colorado takes criminal tampering seriously. First-degree criminal tampering is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If found guilty, a person can face up to one and a half years in jail and fines up to $5,000.
For second-degree criminal tampering, a Class 2 misdemeanor, the penalties include up to 12 months in jail and fines up to $1,000.
If you’re caught messing with your neighbor’s property, then some other criminal offenses could apply as well. These include criminal mischief and criminal trespass.
Criminal mischief is when a person knowingly damages the property of another person. If convicted, the penalties depend on the value of the damaged property. If it’s less than $1,000, it’s a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and fines up to $1,000. If the property is valued at over $1,000, then it is a felony, punishable by up to 18 months in jail and fines up to $5,000.
You commit criminal trespass when you unlawfully remain on or enter someone else’s property. This crime ranges from first degree to third degree. Which level you are charged with depends on the type of property involved in the crime and your reasons for entering the property and remaining on it in the first place.
If you are caught tampering with your neighbor’s sign, then you can easily be charged with additional property crimes as a result, adding more penalties along the way.
If you are caught tampering with your neighbor’s property, then there are some defenses an experienced property crimes attorney can employ to help you.
Since property crimes such as these require the defendant to be intentional, it is possible to say that what happened was accidental or a mistake.
It’s also reasonable to claim you didn’t realize your actions would result in the damage to property that occurred or that you didn’t realize the property belonged to someone else.
In today’s political climate, people are quite polarized. This manifests itself in a variety of ways, but if you’re looking to deface or destroy your neighbor’s political sign you may want to think twice. After all, there’s not a lot you can do to have your voice heard in the next election if you’re sitting in a jail cell.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been recognized by countless legal organizations for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was also named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys for 2020 and is Lead Counsel rated.