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Damaging political signs in Connecticut could result in fines and prison time

In Connecticut, people can face theft and/or trespassing charges for removing or damaging political signs.

ENFIELD, Conn. — The November 8th Election is just two weeks away and the yard signs showing support for political candidates or proposals are spread out across the state.

In Enfield, signs placed at a local business have stirred up discussion about which party was allowed to have signs posted after security footage shows people removing the opposing parties' signs. 

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The Enfield Police Department said they received a complaint and it is “under investigation by detective division personnel.” Both Democrats and Republicans have signs posted up now.

Milford Republicans posted more than 60 signs have “disappeared.”

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Those who remove or damage these signs can face possible monetary punishments and/or prison time, a report by the Connecticut General Assembly Legislative Library Research Office found. 

“It’s not that I’m against anyone it’s just that I’m favoring somebody,” Roger Russell, Enfield, said. “I think it’s part of the community that more people should get involved with. I know a lot of people don’t like the signs on their lawns. They don’t like to show who they’re picking for.”

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He says people altering others’ signs is out of line. Christina Lange says signs should stay where they have been permitted to stay and it should be up to those whose property it is on to take them down, not others.

“Keep the signs up, talk to people, even when you find it difficult. That’s what the signs are supposed to do get us to talk to each other,” the Enfield resident said. “If the signs were put in a place where the property owner gave permission, then signs stay there.”

According to the report, no statute was found criminalizing lawn sign theft or vandalism but those who remove or damage them could still face charges.

It says those who steal them could face larceny charges punishable by up to three months in prison, up to a $500 fine, or both. They could also face trespassing charges ranging from an infraction to a misdemeanor. Infractions are only punishable by fines. A misdemeanor charge can come with up to a year in prison, up to a $2,000 fine, or both.

The report found six states including Maine, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire have statutes against theft or destruction of political message signs. In Rhode Island, for example, a person could face up to 10 days in prison, a fine ranging from $100 to $500, or both for “willfully or maliciously displacing, removing, injuring, or destroying a political advertisement.” There is nothing in Connecticut that does that.

“I believe that we’ve been fractured and polarized for more than a couple of decades now. It’s been sneaking up on us, and Americans need to act like we have a sense of community now,” Lange said. 

Tony Black is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tblack@fox61.com. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


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