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Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
Former Cook County Felony Prosecutor

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Residential Burglary or Home Invasion: An Important Distinction in IL

What’s the difference between residential burglary and home invasion? We’ll describe the legal differences and penalties in this post, then explain how a skilled Illinois criminal attorney can help you fight your charges.


Let’s start by looking at a recent case.


Recent Home Burglary Case in Wilmette


A Wilmette woman was recently arrested on three felony charges for home burglary incidents.


One home on Leyden Lane was allegedly burglarized on June 29. The homeowner was a former acquaintance of the woman who he says was looking through items on his bedroom floor. He asked her to leave and she complied, then he called the police to file a report.


On July 1, the owner of a home on Romona Road noticed a broken window and basement door that had been forced open. He reported that the same woman from the June 29 incident was walking outside the window near items that had previously been stored in his basement.


The woman was reportedly seen escaping the scene in a maroon car driven by a man. Police tracked the car and arrested the woman, then chased down the driver to arrest him as well.


What Does Wilmette Case Tell Us about Residential Burglary in Illinois?


According to the law, residential burglary is entering or remaining inside a habitation without permission, and with the intent to commit a felony or theft while inside. A habitation is a home, apartment, trailer, mobile home, recreational vehicle, or any other place where someone lives.


The crime that is committed inside will be penalized in addition to burglary charges.  Anyone who pretends to be an employee of a utility company, a construction company, or a government agency to gain fraudulent access to the home can be charged with residential burglary.


In most cases, circumstantial evidence is enough to prove the defendant’s intent to commit a crime while inside the habitation, and the intended crime doesn’t actually have to occur. However, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant’s intent for a conviction to occur.


Residential burglary is a class 1 felony in Illinois. If a conviction occurs, the sentence will include four to 15 years in prison.


How Does Illinois Home Invasion Differ?


Home invasion is entering or remaining inside a dwelling without permission, knowing that people are inside, and then threatening to use force or causing injury to people when inside. This crime is treated incredibly seriously by the Illinois court system.


Home invasion can involve threats made with or actual use of a firearm or other type of weapon, an assault, or sexual crimes. Home invasion is different from criminal trespass or residential burglary because the defendant allegedly acts with knowledge that people are inside the dwelling or habitation and then harms or threatens to harm them.


Home invasion is a class X felony in Illinois. If a conviction occurs, the sentence will be at least six to 30 years in prison, and can be enhanced to 15 to 25 years to life in prison depending on the circumstances.


Knowing the Difference between These Crimes Can Be the Difference


Chicago Burglary Lawyer

Even though both of these crimes are punished quite severely in Illinois, you can easily see that home invasion comes with more extensive consequences. This means two things:


  • You absolutely want to work with a Chicago criminal attorney who understands the difference and will know if the prosecution is charging you with the correct offense – and argue against the charges if they have made mistake.
  • Arguing that you actually committed residential burglary instead of home invasion (or fighting for a plea deal that reduces the charges from one to the other) is a worthwhile endeavor because of the difference in the extent of the penalties you face.

Is something like this possible in your situation? The best way to know is to set up a free initial consultation with our office.



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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