Exclusively Practicing Criminal Defense for
Two Decades
David Olshansky


Burglary is moderate crime that is usually charged as a Class 2 felony. However, it could be elevated to a more serious level under certain conditions such as the place where the burglary takes place. Examples include; a home invasion or burglary at a school or place of worship.

State Legislation

Criminal offenses are classified in two categories. The first type of crime is committed against a person and the second type relates to offenses against property. Burglary is a type of property crime.

Burglary is covered in 720 ILCS 5/19 under Illinois compiled statutes. A person commits burglary when he or she knowingly enters within a building, house trailer, watercraft, aircraft, motor vehicle or railcar without the authority or owner’s permission with the intent to commit a felony or theft.


Burglary is classified as a Class 2 felony with a prison term of 3 to 7 years. Burglary may be charged as a Class 1 felony under some conditions, for example, when it is committed on a place of worship, school or daycare center. A Class 1 felony is punishable by 4 to 7 years in prison.

Residential Burglary and Home Invasion

In order to prove a burglary the prosecutor must establish that the defendant entered or stayed at a property without permission. The prosecutor must also prove that the defendant had the knowledge that he or she does not have permission to be on the property. Finally, the prosecutor must also prove that the defendant had the intent to commit a felony or theft at the property.

Residential burglary is specifically covered by the Illinois statute separately from any other type of burglary. Residential burglary occurs when a person enters the dwelling place of another person without permission with the intent to commit a theft or felony.

Residential burglary can be escalated to the category of a home invasion. This occurs when the person is armed with a firearm or any other weapon. Residential burglaries are also elevated to home invasion if the defendant injures someone, uses threats of forcing violence, discharges a firearm or commits sexual assault on a person.

Home invasion is considered more serious and can be charged as a Class X felony which carries a prison sentence of 6 to 30 years.

If a person, intending to commit a felony, enters a home, but immediately leaves when he or she discovers another person is present at the dwelling, they may be able to avoid being charged with a home invasion.

Intention of Committing a Theft or Felony

In order to get a conviction, the prosecution must be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant had the intention of committing theft or felony at the property.

In cases where property is damaged or possessions stolen, intent can be established more easily. However, when no actual felony or theft is committed, the intent is determined through witness accounts or circumstantial evidence.

Burglary Tools

Certain tools are considered instrumental for committing a burglary because they allow a person to gain unauthorized access to a building, vehicle or a safe. Tools like lock-picks, specialized keys, glass and metal cutting equipment etc are considered highly suspicious.

Unless the person carrying these tools happens to be a locksmith, private detective or security employee, the court may infer criminal intent from the possession of these tools.

Examples and Court Cases of Burglary

A person can be charged with burglary for stealing items from vehicles as well as a building.

A man from Lemont was recently charged with burglary after he was arrested by the police officers. The officers were responding to a call of suspicious activity. They found items from several parked vehicles in the area in his possession. The police statement also noted that the man was wearing a mask and glove to hide his identity when they found him.

Another man, Porter from Decatur, was charged with burglary recently after he allegedly stole an ATM machine from a local business premises in 2017. The police found video footage of the man testing the ATM to figure out its weight at Carolyn’s Mega Slots during their investigation.

On the night of the burglary, someone switched off the power to the store which disabled the video camera as well. The next day, store management found the ATM missing, which had more than $24,000 at the time of the burglary.

The police found a pry bar at the scene of the crime. During investigation they found Rayford acted in an unusual and suspicious manner and they were able to trace the burglary to her boyfriend, Porter.

A man from Chicago named Pepe Martinez was charged with home invasion, possession of a controlled substance and using a dangerous weapon. The police arrested him from a home where he was demanding money. The man was armed with a knife.

The police also found that he had attempted a similar burglary earlier at another home.

In January, an 18 year old from Salem pleaded guilty to a Class 2 charge of burglary. Donald Fairchild was facing three charges of burglary against him. The prosecution dropped two charges of burglary in exchange for the plea bargain.

Possible Legal Defenses

The first strategy for defense in a case of burglary is to find out if the charges can be lowered. For example, in the case of a residential burglary, the prosecution could go for a home invasion which is a Class X felony. One defense could be to try and get the charges dropped to a Class 2 felony by arguing one of the following.

  • No weapons or firearms were involved.
  • No threats or force of violence was used.
  • The defendant was not aware of the presence of other people on the property.

In a case where the defendant is charged with a Class 2 burglary, the defense could go with one of the following lines of defense.

  • The defendant had the permission to enter the premises or was under the impression that they had permission to enter.
  • The defendant did not have the intention of committing a crime or felony at the property.

The exact defense that should be used is based on the circumstances of the case. If you or someone you know has been charged with Burglary, getting in touch with a competent legal defense team could help you get cleared or severely reduce the punishment.