The holiday season is a popular time of year for criminals. The number of residential burglaries committed across the country tends to rise as families join together and leave their homes unattended. Police in Lansing recently arrested a pair of individuals that they believe are responsible for a string of burglaries in the area over the past two months. The pair were linked to the crimes after using stolen credit cards to make some online purchases earlier this month. They will face criminal charges for each of the residential burglaries they are accused of committing.
What is Burglary?
When we think of burglary, we may think about a person dressed in all black, sneaking into someone’s home under the cover of darkness. Contrary to popular belief, however, a burglary does not have to take place at night. In fact, a burglary does not even have to involve an act of theft. In Chicago, the crime of burglary (as defined in 720 ILCS 5/19-1) occurs when you unlawfully enter another person’s property with the intent to commit a crime once you are inside. This crime can be theft, but it can also be something entirely different. In fact, any felony offense will satisfy this element of the crime.
Burglary, without aggravating factors, is a Class 2 Felony in Illinois. This means that a conviction can land you behind bars for 3-7 years and put you on the hook for up to $25,000 in fines. If a burglary is committed in a school day care, or place of worship the crime is aggravated to a Class 1 Felony. A Class 1 Felony conviction is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
While burglary is a specific crime, there are actually different types of burglary that can be committed. In Illinois, a burglary can be committed in a “building, housetrailer, watercraft, aircraft, motor vehicle, [or] railroad car.” Residential burglary occurs when the property that is entered is another person’s home. Specifically, residential burglary, as defined in 720 ILCS 5/19-3, occurs when a person:
- Knowingly and without authority,
- Enters or remains within the dwelling place of another,
- With the intent to commit a felony or theft.
Under this law, it is a crime to enter without the occupant’s knowledge or to fraudulently gain access to the home. A person could fraudulently gain access by posing as a cable technician, inspector, or government agent. This also means that it can be a crime to remain in a home without permission. If you are explicitly asked to leave, or simply exceed the length of your invited stay, and subsequently commit a crime, you can also face charges of burglary.
Residential burglary is a Class 1 Felony in Illinois, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and $25,000 in fines.
Proving Burglary Charges
Unless the defendant is caught in the act of burglarizing property, the prosecution will have to gather evidence to support criminal charges. What kind of evidence can be used to prove burglary charges in Chicago? In the Lansing burglary case, the suspects were linked to at least one burglary because they were found in possession of property that was reported stolen. This can be key evidence in supporting criminal charges for burglary. Other evidence that may be used to support criminal charges of burglary include:
- Possession of tools commonly used in burglaries, including lock picks;
- Video footage;
- Photographs of the defendant in and around the burglarized area;
- Eyewitness testimony; and
- A history of committing similar crimes.
Defending Residential Burglary Charges in Chicago
When you face criminal charges you have the right to defend yourself. This is generally done by asserting legal arguments that help to explain or justify your alleged behavior. Arguments that are persuasive will help your attorney to secure a favorable outcome in your criminal case. In some cases, this can mean getting the charges reduced or dismissed. Defenses that may be helpful in a criminal case for residential burglary include:
- Mistaken identity;
- False accusation;
- Illegal search or seizure;
- Illegal arrest;
- The property was not used as the dwelling for another person;
- Lack of required intent to commit a felony or theft;
- Permission of the property owner to be on the premises; or
- The mistaken belief you had permission to enter the premises or engage in certain conduct.
Fighting Residential Burglary Charges in Chicago
The best way to secure a positive outcome in a criminal case is by hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you are facing residential burglary charges in Chicago do not hesitate to contact the Kostopoulos Law Group for help. We know that your future is on the line and will do everything in our power to limit the consequences of your arrest. We will thoroughly investigate your alleged crime, create a custom legal defense, and fight tirelessly on your behalf. Call our Chicago burglary attorneys today to schedule a free consultation and learn more.
Kostopoulos Law Group
125 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 300 A
Chicago, IL 60606