Is It Theft, Robbery, or Burglary? How Illinois Defines Each Crime
Many people use the terms “theft,” “robbery,” and “burglary” interchangeably in daily conversations. Which makes sense. After all, each term – in general – addresses the same topic.
Legally speaking, however, the terms describe three different and specific types of criminal offenses. If you’re facing criminal charges related to stealing something, you need to know the legal definition of each term.
Theft in Illinois
Illinois Statutes Chapter 720 §16-1 defines theft as obtaining the property of someone else through deception or without their permission. “Property” is defined as anything of value.
Theft of property in Illinois includes the following classifications:
- Class A Misdemeanor – property not taken from the person (directly from the person of another) and valued at $500 or less; punishment is less than one year in prison and up to $2,500 in fines.
- Class 4 Felony – property not taken from the person and valued at $500 or less and committed in a place of worship or school, or theft was of governmental property, or theft was committed by a person convicted of a similar crime previously; punishment is 1-3 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
- Class 3 Felony – property taken from the person and valued at $500 or less, or not from the person and valued at $500-$10,000; punishment is 2-5 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
- Class 2 Felony – property taken is valued at $10,000-$100,000; punishment is 3-7 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
- Class 1 Felony – property taken is valued at $10,000-$100,000 and crime was committed in a place of worship or school, or theft was of governmental property; punishment is up to 15 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
Robbery in Illinois
Illinois Statutes Chapter 720 §18-1 defines “robbery” as taking property by threatening to use force or by actually using force. Aggravated robbery, a Class 1 felony, includes the use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon. Robbery is usually a Class 2 felony, but it is considered a Class 1 felony if
- the victim is 60 years of age and over or has a physical disability, or
- the robbery occurred in a school, place of worship or daycare home or center.
Burglary in Illinois
Illinois Statutes Chapter 720 §19-1 states that a burglary is committed when, without authority, a person enters or remains in:
- a building or housetrailer
- a motor vehicle, railroad car, watercraft, or aircraft
Burglary committed in a building or housetrailer is a Class 2 felony. Burglary that causes damage to one of the listed modes of transportation is a Class 2 felony, and if no damage was done, a Class 3 felony. A Class 1 felony has been committed if the burglary occurred in a school, a place of worship, or a daycare home or center.
Statute of Limitations in Illinois
In general, misdemeanors in Illinois have a statute of limitations of 18 months. In other words, once 18 months have passed after the date of a crime, you can’t be charged with that crime. The statute of limitations for felony theft, depending on the value of property stolen, is 18 months, three years, or seven years.
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.