Our cultural image of burglary typically involves a man in a mask breaking in to someone else’s property under cover of night and loading up on any valuables that aren’t tied down. The state of Illinois, however, takes a broader view on burglary.
Just by entering a property without permission, it is possible to be charged with a burglary-related crime. Worse, burglary charges can be extremely serious. Many people find themselves serving decades-long sentences after being convicted.
Below you’ll find information of five different types of burglary that are defined in the Illinois criminal statutes.
Illinois Burglary Charges You Need to Know About
Burglary. In general, burglary is defined by entering and/or remaining in a building without permission with the intention of committing theft or other felonies. Both part of the definition must be proved in order to secure a felony conviction. If a prosecutor cannot prove that the defendant was in the dwelling to commit a felony, the burglary charges will be dropped.
Burglary is typically a class 2 felony. However, if the incident is committed in a school, day care center, or place of worship, the charge is a class 1 felony.
Residential Burglary. When people think of burglary, they tend to imagine it occurring in a person’s home – either a house or an apartment complex. However, the term “building” also includes places like offices and other structures – even vacant lots count.
That’s where residential burglary comes in. A building where people live (or soon intend to live) is referred to as a “dwelling,” and breaking into one is more serious than the typical burglary. Residential burglary is a different crime than burglary, and the two cannot be charged at the same time.
Residential burglary is a class 1 felony.
Home Invasion. Home invasion charges are similar to residential burglary charges, but involve aggravating factors that warrant more serious penalties. If an individual enters a dwelling without permission, knowing that the residents are home, and does any of the following, the crime is considered “home invasion”:
- Has a firearm or weapon in possession at the time of the incident
- Threatens to fire or actually fires a gun
- Threatens to use force against a resident
- Assaults a resident
- Commits sexual assault or abuse
Home invasion is a Class X felony, the most serious type of charge in Illinois.
Possession of Burglary Tools. Illinois also has charges for anyone who possesses “burglary tools” with the intention of committing a felony. Burglary tools can be things like a lockpicking kit, explosives, or even simple instruments like a screwdriver. If an individual is caught with these tools and there is reason to believe that they intend to use them in the commission of a felony, they may be charged with possession. Using tools to actually commit burglary will lead to additional charges and penalties beyond those associated with burglary itself.
In the event that the defendant is a locksmith, law enforcement officer, or holds another position that would justify holding these burglary tools, they could use their position as a defense.
Possession of burglary tools is a class 4 felony in Illinois.
Criminal Trespass. Even if there is no intention to commit a felony, entering a property without the permission of the owner is still a crime – criminal trespass.
Criminal trespass is a class A misdemeanor. If the residents of the property are present when criminal trespass is committed, the charge is elevated to a class 4 felony.
With so many different crimes, navigating burglary charges can be confusing. If you have been arrested for burglary, the prosecution may change or pile on charges in addition to burglary as more evidence is discovered, greatly altering what you’re up against. Reach out to an experienced Chicago burglary defense lawyer who can guide you through this process and will work hard to get your charges dropped.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.