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Illinois Burglary Laws

Overview of Illinois Burglary Laws

Burglary is one of various types of property scrime in Illinois. In general, someone can commit burglary by entering another person's property with plans to commit another crime once on the property or inside the premises. Simply breaking into a property is not enough to support a burglary charge. When someone enters property without an intent to commit a crime, the state might pursue a trespass charge instead of a burglary charge.

See FindLaw's Property Crimes section to learn about related crimes.

To prove a burglary, a state prosecutor must show that the defendant entered a property without permission or stayed on the premises after permission to enter the property had expired. In addition, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant entered the property knowingly -- with awareness and purpose -- and with an intent to commit a theft or a felony.

The types of property eligible for burglary include buildings, aircrafts, boats, motor vehicles, and others. Although most types of property qualify the burglary as a Class 2 felony, schools and places of worship increase the offense to a Class 1 felony, a more serious offense with increased penalties. Burglaries of dwellings, which include homes and residences, also become Class 1 felonies under Illinois burglary laws.

Criminal offenses related to burglary, including the unlawful possession of burglary tools, are crimes that qualify as less serious classes of felonies. If the state prosecutor can prove criminal trespass, but cannot establish an intent to commit a felony or theft, the state may pursue the lesser charge of criminal trespass as a Class A misdemeanor or Class 4 felony.

Defenses to Burglary Charges

  • Defendant had permission to enter the property
  • Lack of intent to commit a crime after entering the property
  • Entrapment by law enforcement

See Burglary Defenses for more details.

Penalties and Sentences

The punishment for a burglary conviction depends on the class of felony. In general, burglary is a Class 2 felony according to Illinois burglary laws, which may result in a term of imprisonment for three to seven years. Under some circumstances, Illinois state laws allow the prosecutor to charge a burglary as a Class 1 felony, which can result in a term of imprisonment for four to fifteen years. For either a Class 2 or Class 1 felony, the state may be able to increase the sentence if the defendant's criminal history includes prior convictions for felonies of Class 2 or higher. The state may also require a fine in an amount up to $25,000.

In addition, state law allows the court to consider whether probation would be an appropriate alternative to prison time. See Burglary Penalties and Sentencing for more details.

Illinois Burglary Laws: Statute

Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 section 19-1--19-3 (scroll down for sections)

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact an Illinois criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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