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Illinois Criminal Trespass Laws

When you think of trespassing, you may not take it seriously. However, trespassing isn't merely an example of rude behavior; it's an invasion of privacy and an interference of someone else's property rights. Although it's generally a minor offense, people who engage in trespassing may not only be liable for a civil lawsuit, but they may also be charged criminally depending on the situation. It can be an offense on its own and can also lead to other crimes such as theft or vandalism. In Illinois, three main incidents of criminal trespass are: criminal trespass to real property (land), criminal trespass to a residence, and criminal trespass to vehicles.

Notice Requirements

When it comes to trespass to real property, one of the ways to commit a trespass is by entering property when you have received prior notice that entry is forbidden. A person is considered to have received notice from the owner if he or she has been notified personally, either orally or in writing, or if a printed or written notice forbidding entry has been posted at the main entrance to the land or the forbidden part. "No trespassing" signs are an obvious indicator, but in Illinois purple paint also signifies notice. Owners may mark the property by placing identifying purple marks on trees or posts around the forbidden area.

Illinois Criminal Trespass Laws at a Glance

The chart below provides a summary of laws related to Illinois' criminal trespass laws, including links to important code sections.

Statutes and Elements of the Crime

Criminal trespass to real property: 720 ILCS 5/21-3
Criminal trespass to a residence : 720 ILCS 5/19-4
Criminal trespass to vehicles: 720 ILCS 5/21-2

Criminal trespass to real property occurs when you:

  • Knowingly enter a building or remain there without permission
  • Enter an individual's property after already receiving notice that entry is forbidden
  • Remain on an individual's property after being ordered to leave
  • Use false documents to get permission from the owner to enter or remain in a building
  • Enter land being used or capable of being used for agricultural purposes or an orchard in or on a motor vehicle and remain on the land after being given prior notice that entry is forbidden

Criminal trespass to a residence occurs when you:

  • Knowingly enter/remain within any residence where an individual resides.
  • Knowingly enter/remain within the residence of another and you know or have reason to know that people are present.

Criminal trespass to vehicles occurs when you:

  • Knowingly enter/operate a vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, or snowmobile without permission.

Penalties and Sentencing

  • Real Property: In most instances, trespassing is a Class B Misdemeanor except it becomes a Class A Misdemeanor when the trespasser enters land used or capable of being used for growing crops or uses a motor vehicle if the marked area is an orchard.
  • Residence: In most instances, this is a Class A Misdemeanor, but if you knowingly enter or remain in a residence when you know or reasonably should know that people are present, it is a Class 4 Felony.
  • Vehicle: Criminal trespass to vehicles is a Class A Misdemeanor.

Possible Defenses

  • Lack of intent
  • Consent: You were given permission by the owner to enter the property.
  • Necessity

Related Offense

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Illinois Criminal Trespass Laws: Related Resources

Discuss Your Case with an Illinois Attorney

Illinois' criminal trespass laws can be very confusing. If you're facing these charges, you probably want someone on your side who understands how to navigate the law. Consider discussing your case and your legal options with an Illinois attorney near you today.

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