Most people think of robbery, burglary, and theft as one crime. However, the laws of Illinois make distinctions between all three offenses. In this post, we’ll detail the differences for you and let you know how an experienced Illinois criminal attorney can help you with your charges.
Theft in Illinois
The state’s definition of theft reads as follows:
“A person commits theft when he or she knowingly:
- Obtains or exerts unauthorized control over property of the owner; or
- Obtains by deception control over property of the owner; or
- Obtains by threat control over property of the owner; or
- Obtains control over stolen property knowing the property to have been stolen or under such circumstances as would reasonably induce him or her to believe that the property was stolen; or
- Obtains or exerts control over property in the custody of any law enforcement agency which any law enforcement officer or any individual acting in behalf of a law enforcement agency explicitly represents to the person as being stolen or represents to the person such circumstances as would reasonably induce the person to believe that the property was stolen, and
- Intends to deprive the owner permanently of the use or benefit of the property; or
- Knowingly uses, conceals or abandons the property in such manner as to deprive the owner permanently of such use or benefit; or
- Uses, conceals, or abandons the property knowing such use, concealment or abandonment probably will deprive the owner permanently of such use or benefit.”
(720 ILCS 5/16-1) (from Ch. 38, par. 16-1)
Theft involves physical objects that can be moved or transported from place to place. It is one of the most common offenses, and it is punishable by the value of the items that were stolen. Lower level theft convictions may require fines, restitution, and community service. Higher level theft convictions will include prison sentencing and fines. If you have been accused of committing theft, it’s wise to consult with a knowledgeable Chicago defense attorney as soon as possible.
Burglary in Illinois
Under state law, burglary is defined as follows:
“A person commits burglary when without authority he or she knowingly enters or without authority remains within a building, housetrailer, watercraft, aircraft, motor vehicle, railroad car, or any part thereof, with intent to commit therein a felony or theft.”
(720 ILCS 5/19-1) (from Ch. 38, par. 19-1)
Burglary may or may not involve the crime of theft. In fact, you can be charged with burglary whether or not you commit another crime.
All that the prosecution needs to prove is that you intended to commit a crime while inside. Something important to know is that intentionally extending an object or a body part inside a structure is enough to constitute a burglary charge.
Burglary charges are a Class 2 or 3 felony in Illinois. If convicted, you can expect to receive a sentence of several years in prison plus thousands of dollars in fines. A skilled Illinois burglary attorney can help you fight your charges with a strong and aggressive defense.
Robbery in Illinois
The state law defines robbery in this way:
“A person commits robbery when he or she knowingly takes property, except a motor vehicle covered by Section 18-3 or 18-4, from the person or presence of another by the use of force or by threatening the imminent use of force.”
(720 ILCS 5/18-1) (from Ch. 38, par. 18-1)
Robbery is charged as a Class 1 or 2 felony, and a conviction will include prison time and significant fines.
Defenses to robbery charges include lack of intent, no threat made, no force used, mistake of fact, acting under duress, and more.
The Big Difference between Illinois Theft, Burglary, and Robbery
The big difference between theft, burglary, and robbery is that the latter is a violent crime, though no one has to actually experience injury for the charge of robbery to apply. The threat of force alone is enough to constitute a robbery charge.
Additionally, a robbery only occurs in the presence of another person. This is true whether the property taken is on a person, such as a purse or wallet, or within the person’s control, such as cash inside a register.
Because of the heightened nature of the penalties associated with robbery charges, it is very important that you fight back if you believe that you are being charged with the wrong crime. A skilled lawyer will be able to look at the facts of your situation and tell you whether or not this is the case.
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.