The Christmas and New Year’s holidays saw a rise in burglaries all over Illinois. During this time, cars and homes might have been targeted due to an increase in the presence of money or expensive gifts.
If you have recently been charged with a burglary crime – especially a residential burglary crime – it’s important to understand both the charges and the penalties associated with those charges.
Burglary vs. Residential Burglary
Generally speaking, burglary is committed when a person enters or stays in a building or vehicle (or any part of a building or vehicle) without permission and with the intent to commit a theft or felony crime. If the building is a school, day care center, or place of worship, burglary charges are taken even more seriously.
A residential burglary charge takes place when someone enters or remains inside someone’s dwelling without permission and with the intent to commit a theft or felony crime. A dwelling can be a house, apartment, trailer, mobile home, or any place where a person lives or plans to live.
Someone impersonating a government employee or an employee of a construction or utility company in order to commit a crime inside someone else’s dwelling can also commit residential burglary.
If you break into someone’s house with the intent to steal a computer, you’ve committed a residential burglary. If you break into a vacant or uninhabitable building with the intent to commit a crime, you’ve committed burglary since a vacant building is not a dwelling.
So a burglary charge is different from a residential burglary charge. And you can only commit one of the crimes depending on the type of building you entered or remained in.
It is also illegal in Illinois to possess burglary tools. A burglary tool is any tool, key, explosive, or instrument that can be used to break into a building or vehicle with the intent to commit a crime.
If a residential burglary involves violence or other acts, the burglary can become a home invasion.
Home invasions are treated as very serious crimes. Home invasions are essentially residential burglaries, but with a few additions. With a home invasion, the offender knows that someone is home. A residential burglary can also become a home invasion if the defendant:
- Has a firearm or other weapon and uses force or threatens to use force
- Injures someone in the dwelling
- Uses force or threatens to use force and fires a gun
- Commits a sex crime
Since part of a home invasion charge involves knowing that someone is home, an offender could possibly beat a home invasion charge by leaving the house or surrendering once he realizes the house isn’t empty. While this might clear you of a serious home invasion charge, you may still be charged with a lesser offense such as trespassing.
Trespassing is a crime where someone enters onto property without the owner’s permission. Residential trespass is where someone enters or stays in someone else’s residence without permission. If someone is at home during a residential trespass, it will be punished more severely than if the residence was empty.
Depending on the type of building and whether the building was occupied can dramatically change your charge and punishment.
General burglary is a Class 2 felony punishable by 3 to 7 years in jail.
Residential burglary or burglary of a school, day care center, or place of worship is a Class 1 felony and punishable by 4 to 15 years in jail.
Home invasion is a Class X felony punishable by 6 to 30 years in jail. Sometimes additional terms of 15 to 25 years to life could even be added depending on the specific circumstances of your case.
Trespassing is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine up to $2,500, and up to 2 years of formal supervision probation. Residential trespass where someone is at the home is a Class 4 felony punishable by 1 to 3 years in jail.
Possession of or the sale of burglary tools is a Class 4 felony punishable by 1 to 3 years in jail.
If you have been charged with a residential burglary crime or a similar burglary crime, you should contact an experienced burglary lawyer to understand your rights. Depending on the circumstances of your case, a lawyer can help to reduce your charges or possibly get them dropped or dismissed.
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.