In Illinois, a person commits burglary by knowingly entering or remaining in a building without authorization and with intent to commit a felony or theft. Penalties for burglary vary depending on the type of building (dwelling or other structure) and the circumstances involved.
Illinois law divides burglary-related crimes into the following categories of offenses:
Traditionally, burglary was defined as breaking and entering into a home at night with the intent to commit a felony inside. Today, most states (including Illinois) have done away with these requirements, and a person commits burglary by entering into a building or dwelling without permission and with the intent to commit a crime inside.
Burglary offenses in Illinois share certain common elements. Generally speaking, burglary offenses involve an unauthorized entry of a building with the intent to commit theft or a felony (a crime punishable by a state prison term). Below are definitions of these common elements.
Entry. An “entry” occurs when any part of an intruder’s body enters the building—this could be the intruder’s hand or foot pushing open an unlocked door or window. Entry also includes intrusion into the building by an instrument used to commit the offense, such as an intruder poking a gun through a door or breaking a window by hitting it with a bat. An intruder’s entry does not require an actual “breaking” or force to constitute burglary. An unauthorized entry through an open door or unlocked window is still burglary.
Intent to commit a crime. In order to convict people of burglary, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the intruder entered with the intent to commit a crime inside. This intent must exist before or at the time of intruder’s unauthorized entry. If the intruder entered the house and decided to commit a crime after entry, the crime isn’t burglary. In most cases, the defendant’s illegal intention can be inferred from the circumstances. The prosecutor doesn’t need to establish exactly what was going through the defendant’s head. For example, if two people break down the door of a home and take a television and a laptop, the jury could infer that the people entered the home to commit a crime. Even if police stopped the people before they escaped with the stolen goods, they could still be convicted of burglary (and attempted theft). The crime of burglary occurs as soon as the defendant enters into the building or vehicle with the illicit intent, even if the intended felony or theft never occurs.
A person commits the crime of burglary by entering or remaining in a building or vehicle (including a housetrailer, motor vehicle, aircraft, boat, or railroad car) without authority and with the intent to commit theft or a felony.
A person who burglarizes a building or vehicle without causing damage commits a Class 3 felony punishable by two to five years' prison time and a fine up to $25,000. If the burglary results in property damage, the crime is a Class 2 felony and carries a prison sentence ranging from three to seven years and a fine up to $25,000. It’s a Class 1 Felony to burglarize a school, childcare facility, group daycare home, or place of worship. A person convicted of a Class 1 felony faces four to 15 years in prison and a fine up to $25,000.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/19-1 (2020).)
A person commits residential burglary when they knowingly and without authority enters or remains in another’s dwelling with intent to commit a felony or theft. A dwelling means any building or enclosed space used or intended for use as a home or residence, including a house, apartment, mobile home, trailer, RV, tent, or other living quarters. It doesn’t matter if the structure is currently inhabited or not, only that it be habitable.
A person who breaks into an empty home intending to steal a television commits residential burglary. The offense can also be committed by someone pretending to be an employee of the government, a construction company, or a utility company in order to gain access into the home. A person convicted of residential burglary commits a Class 1 felony, punishable by four to 15 years in prison.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/2-6, 5/19-3 (2020).)
Home invasions are the most serious of the burglary-related offenses. Residential burglaries become home invasions when the intruder knows or has reason to know someone is present in the dwelling and the intruder:
For home invasion, an intruder includes a person who maintains a residence at the home but is barred from entry by a divorce decree, protection order, or other court order.
Affirmative defense. Would-be home invaders can raise a defense to home invasion charges if they can prove they immediately left the dwelling or surrendered upon realizing another person was present in the home. (They could still be charged with residential burglary or another offense.)
Penalties. A person who commits a home invasion faces Class X felony charges, punishable by six to 30 years’ imprisonment. If the intruder was armed with a firearm, the court can add additional prison time (15 to 25 years or life) to the person’s sentence.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/19-6 (2020).)
Like many states, Illinois makes it a crime to possess any key, explosive, tool, or instrument that can be used to break into a building, vehicle, safe, or vault with the intent to use it to commit a felony or theft. Selling a key or lock pick designed to be used for burglary is also a crime. Both crimes are Class 4 felonies and carry a prison term of one to three years. For more information on how even everyday items can become burglar’s tools, see Burglary Tools.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/19-2, 5/19-2.5 (2020).)
A person commits criminal trespass by:
Real property. A person who commits a criminal trespass faces Class B misdemeanor charges and up to six months in jail. If a person trespasses onto agricultural property (used for crops or livestock) using a motor-powered vehicle, the crime is a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in up to one year’s jail time and a fine of $2,500.
Residence. Criminal trespass of a residence also constitutes a Class A misdemeanor. The crime becomes a Class 4 felony if the person knows or has reason to know a person is present in the home. A Class 4 felony carries a sentence of one to three years’ incarceration.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/19-4, 5/21-3 (2020).)
If you are charged with burglary or a related crime, speak with a criminal defense attorney. An attorney can explain the law to you and help you navigate the criminal justice system.