, Stealing from a Car – Even an Unlocked One – Is Burglary in Illinois
, Stealing from a Car – Even an Unlocked One – Is Burglary in Illinois
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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.

, Stealing from a Car – Even an Unlocked One – Is Burglary in Illinois

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.

 

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The use of marijuana has been a controversial topic for decades.

Many have argued that the use of marijuana is a relatively harmless act and that criminalizing it is a waste of law-enforcement resources. On the other hand, even a small possession charge held severe consequences in most states. That is, until relatively recently.

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Stealing from a Car – Even an Unlocked One – Is Burglary in Illinois

Burglary

For many, burglary and theft are two very different things – one just means taking things that don’t belong to you, while the other refers to breaking into a house or store to take those things. While there is some truth to that line of reasoning, it’s not completely correct. The legal definition of burglary can be much different, and more encompassing, than what most people often assume.

Take, for example, the case of three teenagers who were arrested in [...]

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