If you are charged with residential burglary, several strategies may be available to help you in getting your charges dropped, dismissed, or reduced, or in avoiding conviction at trial. In two recent Illinois cases, a few of these strategies came into play.
In one case, a 19-year-old male and a female juvenile had been present at a pool party in Walnut Hill. The two allegedly returned later to steal items and cause property damage. Marion County State’s Attorney Bill Milner originally filed home invasion charges against the pair, but then decided to reduce the charges to residential burglary since they had initially been granted permission to enter the home.
In another case, three Illinois football players were charged with residential burglary and aggravated robbery. They allegedly broke into another student’s dorm room wearing masks and toting a BB gun, though the alleged victim thought it was real. While the players went through the victim’s belongings, he recognized one of the players by voice. The players said they were not intending to commit a crime and only wanted to play a prank on the alleged victim.
What Is the Legal Definition of Residential Burglary?
Let’s take a look at what constitutes residential burglary in our state. Illinois statutes describe residential burglary as entering a building or structure with the intent to commit theft. Penalties increase if the burglary site is a school, daycare, or place of worship. Additional charges arise if a burglary tool was used. If you break into a building that is not a place of residence, it is termed a general burglary.
By contrast, home invasion is committing a burglary when you know someone is in the building. Burglary may be termed a home invasion if a firearm is present, if force is used or threatened, or if you injure or sexually assault someone in the building.
Sentencing is three to seven years in jail for general burglary, four to 15 years for residential burglary, six to 30 or more years for home invasion, and one to three years for possession or sale of burglary tools. All of these charges are felonies.
Your residential burglary charge may be dropped or reduced using these six strategies:
- Claim innocence. You will need to convince the jury that you did not participate in the acts under prosecution.
- Create plausible doubt. You may have an alibi or other sensible explanation to refute the charges. You must be able to prove that you are innocent beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Call evidence into question. If you can prove that the evidence is faulty, you may have a way to fight the charge.
- Admit behavior, but not intent. To receive a reduced sentence, you may agree that you committed the crime of trespassing, which is entering a property without permission. Trespassing is a misdemeanor instead of a felony, so this charge is definitely preferable.
- Use the defense of intoxication. If you were under the influence of a controlled substance, you may be able to fight the charge that you intended to commit a crime.
- Use the defense of entrapment. Even though this is a tough defense to prove, your situation may warrant the argument that someone else forced you into participation against your will.
When you face a charge of residential burglary, you need experienced legal counsel to help you. Contact us today for a free legal consultation, and we will work to protect your rights.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes.