Is Taking a Sign from Someone Else’s Yard a Crime?

During election year or when major events happen in the community, state, or country, you might start to notice signs popping up in your neighbors’ yards. Such displays may show support for a certain candidate or generate awareness about a social issue. Although they are simply rectangular pieces of plastic, they can create a lot of feelings because they concern very charged matters and might not always be positive feelings.

Not everyone agrees on the ideas or policies of a particular candidate or how an issue should be handled. Still, everyone has a right to their opinion. However, having strong feelings about the matter on display, you might not believe that the other person’s views should be expressed. To prevent the spread of the idea, you might be tempted to take the sign from your neighbor’s yard. But consider this: Taking a sign from someone else’s property is a crime. In fact, doing so can result in charges for two separate offenses: criminal trespass and theft.

Entering Property Without Permission

When you remove a sign from someone’s yard, you must enter another’s property. Likely, you won’t have permission to do so. If the owner did not consent for you to be on their property, that’s called criminal trespass. In Ohio, the offense is a fourth-degree misdemeanor.

If you’re convicted of taking another person’s sign, a court can:

  • Sentence you to up to 30 days in jail and/or
  • Fine you up to $250

Those are some pretty severe consequences for something worth about $20.

Depriving the Owner of Property

Walking onto someone else’s property without permission is just one act committed when taking their sign. You must also remove the sign. The moment you do so, and if you don’t have consent and your intent is to deprive the owner of the object, you could be charged with theft.

As noted earlier, plastic signs that pop up in yards cost around $20, which means you would specifically be facing petty theft charges. In Ohio, petty theft occurs when someone takes property valued at less than $1,000.

Although the sign is just a piece of plastic, taking it is a serious offense. It is a first-degree misdemeanor.

The conviction penalties for petty theft include:

  • A jail term of up to 180 days, and/or
  • A fine of up to $1,000

Thus, your life can be severely altered because you removed a sign from your neighbor’s yard.

If you’re facing criminal charges in Dayton, reach out to Rion, Rion & Rion, and learn what 80 years of combined experience can do for your case. Call us at (937) 223-9133 or contact us online today.

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