Is stealing or sabotaging political signs illegal? – FindLaw

A picture of a sign in the grass in a neighborhood that says yes

Political polarization is peaking online and in communities across the United States, with only weeks left before the 2020 general election. The division is evident on social media – take a look at the comments section of a political post, if you dare – and also from the growing reports of theft. Campaign Square and Sabotage banners.

Yard Yard supports President Donald Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden, and other local and local candidates targeted by those who hold dissenting views

However, while some may view the removal or mutilation of the yard signage as an act of civic speech or political activity, the law is clear on this issue: theft or vandalism of political signs is a crime in all 50 states. Trespassing on private property is a crime punishable by law in every country.

The laws for theft and vandalism vary by country

Countries take slightly different approaches to punishing theft and destroying political signals, but most states treat this behavior as misdemeanor. Although misdemeanors are petty crimes, they carry serious consequences that can be multiplied depending on the number of signs involved.

Research misdemeanor laws in your state To know which punishment can be applied. Misdemeanor fines are often up to $ 1,000 and up to 90 days or even a year in prison. In states like New York, if stolen or damaged property is worth more than $ 1,000, the perpetrator can be held accountable felony.

criminal Infringement, Which refers to the intentional entry of another person’s private property without his permission, is often treated as a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of US $ 1,000 and a fine of up to 90 days or a year in prison.

The increase in theft and vandalism of political signs prompted some landlords to try to catch intruders by installing cameras such as security cameras, smart doorbells or surveillance cameras. The snaps are used to expose people online and also help law enforcement authorities track down the perpetrators.

Being accused of any crime, including misdemeanor, can negatively affect your life, so anyone accused of stealing or mutilating political park signs should obtain advice from A criminal defense attorney.

The political arena banners are the first amendment of free speech

Avoiding criminal charges is a good reason not to steal or sabotage the political arena signals. Another is that doing this is claustrophobic freedom of expression.

The right of a property owner to post signs representing his political beliefs is rooted in First amendmentWhich protects the right of every citizen to freedom of expression.

Believes The first political milestone on the American political scene dates back to the presidential race by John Quincy Adams in 1824. The current wire-framed version of the Political Park Signals originated in the 1960s. However, the concept of political signs can be traced back to ancient Rome.

Although the digital age has changed many aspects of political campaigning (hello, Facebook), one thing that has not changed is the predominant use of political arena signals.

In addition to campaign banners for specific candidates, many landlords now put up signs in support of policies such as “Support Our Police” or social movements such as “Black Lives Matter” or public statements about Inclusiveness.

In general, the yard signage has proven to be an easy and inexpensive way to participate in public debate, and courts have recognized the protected form of expression as such.

Where can the political labels be placed?

Local laws specify when, where, and how election banners may be displayed. However, the regulations should be content neutral and specify ‘Time, place and styleRestrictions on freedom of expression.

The US Supreme Court ruled in 1994 to impose government restrictions on political banners City of Lado vs Giliu, The court ruled unanimously that the Missouri city ordinance prohibiting signage in private residences was unconstitutional.

The court ruled that the signs for residential areas are “a venerable, unique and important means of communication.” The city law was repealed, and a similar ban on political square banners has been overturned by the District Court judges since then by lower court judges citing the historic case.

When it comes to reasonable content-neutral restrictions on lawn signs, local governments can require that the signs do not pose a threat to public safety such as obstructing visibility or distracting motorists.

In addition, many local governments have imposed reasonable restrictions on the size and shape of political signs, as well as the maximum number of signs each yard can display. In addition to:

  • In some areas, campaign square banners must be removed within seven to 10 days after the election.
  • Local judicial authorities control the ability to place signage on public property, and many prohibit or restrict political signage on public property.
  • Every state has laws Constituency boundaries That creates buffer zones where political flags cannot be placed. These laws were put in place to ensure that polling places are free from campaigning on Election Day.
  • Private neighborhoods like Homeowners Associations (HOAs) may ban political signals altogether because they are private property.

When renting out real estate, it can get more complicated. Whether the tenant can post a political sign against the landlord’s desires or remove a political mark that the landlord has put forward depends on the facts including whether the tenant has an exclusive use of the yard, and whether there is a clause in the lease agreement that specifies whether it is political Or other details about the rights of each party.

If you believe the political signs have been placed in a way that violates the law, you should contact local authorities and leave it to them to remove the signs, if necessary.

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