Burglary at a residential location is taken very seriously in Illinois. The state legislators have categorized it as a distinct category with separate laws and punishments. Home invasion charges are tried as Class X felony by the law-enforcement agencies. This is part of an effort to ensure that residents have complete security and peace of mind in their homes.State Legislation
Home invasion is covered under 720 ILCS 5/19. A person commits home invasion when he or she knowingly, and without authority;
- Enters the dwelling place of another with full knowledge that one more persons are present there.
- Enters and stays at the dwelling place of another after permission to remain there has been retracted.
- Enters the dwelling place of another by falsely representing himself or herself as a governmental employee or a service provider.
In order to be charged with home invasion, the person must have also committed one of the following acts while on the dwelling place of another.
- Uses force or threatens the use of force on any persons at the dwelling place while armed with a dangerous weapon or a firearm.
- Causes an injury to any person within the dwelling place intentionally.
- Uses force or threatens the use of force on any persons at the dwelling place and personally discharges a firearm, regardless of whether it causes an injury or not.
- Personally discharges a firearm that causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, disfigurement or death of another person within the dwelling place.
The law does not apply to a peace officer, such as a fireman or law enforcement officer, who enters a residential dwelling while acting in the line of duty.
Home invasion is a Class X felony punishable by 6 – 30 years in prison. The defendant may also be fined with up to $25,000.
If the accused is armed with a firearm an additional 15 years shall be added to the imprisonment term.
If the accused personally discharges a firearm, an additional 20 years shall be added to the imprisonment term.
If the use of a firearm results in injury, permanent disability or death of another person, an additional 25 years shall be added to the imprisonment term.Considerations
There are some similarities between home burglary and home invasion. Both involve breaking into the residential property of a person. However, not every residential burglary results in home invasion.
For example, if a burglar enters a residential property, discovers that there are people within and immediately leaves, they cannot be charged with home invasion. The law specifically allows the affirmative defense in this case where the would-be home invader leaves or surrenders upon realizing that there is another person inside the home.Examples and Court Cases
In a recent case, Thaddeus Jones 21 was charged with home invasion as well as related charges of aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping and possession of a stolen vehicle.
According to the law enforcement officers, the man allegedly broke into the home of an elderly woman and forced her to withdraw money from her bank. After returning home, she was able to fight off the suspect and escaped. The man then stole her car and left the home. He was later apprehended at a nearby motel.
In another case, home invasion charges were dropped against two men in Urbana after the prosecution was unable to build a strong case.
Anthony Wilkins, 22, and Nevalle Booker,19, had been charged with home invasion and aggravated robbery at the residence of an 87 year old man.
The prosecution accused that the duo, along with two other suspects, had broken into the home of the victim and robbed him for thousands of dollars in cash, guns, collector coins and jewelry. The victim had also been threatened by the intruders with a gun.
The police had already caught one suspect David Austin,19, of Champaign who had pleaded guilty to the charges. They also caught Jamar Holbrook 19 and relied on his testimony to convict Wilkins and Booker.
According to the DAs office, the co-defendant Holbrook refused to testify even though he had been made an offer. His testimony was crucial to the prosecution’s case.
Another female witness who had agreed to testify earlier also recanted her previous statement. The elderly victim was unable to make personal identification of any of the burglars. Forensic evidence also turned up negative.
There was simply no evidence or witness testimony that would hold up against a strong defense team in this case and the prosecution decided to drop the charges.
In a separate case, two residents from Elgin were convicted for home invasion and other related offenses.
The charges were filed after the police learnt that a female was being held in her home against her will. When the police arrived at her house they found the 18 year old woman with visible injuries.
The victim informed the officers that she was at her home when four females entered and beat her up. They forcibly removed her from the house, put her into a vehicle and drove her around while beating her.
The suspects were later arrested and pleaded guilty to the charges of home invasion, kidnapping and causing injury to another.
Ruby Gomez was sentenced to ten years in prison. Kassandra Delgado was sentenced for nine years. Charges against the other two defendants continue.Possible Legal Defenses
In order to be tried for home invasion, the prosecution must prove that the defendant;
- Knowingly entered the residential property of another person without permission.
- Carried a weapon or firearm and used force or threatened the use of force against a person on the property.
The most common defense strategy is to attack one of the two elements that prove home invasion. For instance the defense may argue that the accused was not aware of not having permission to enter the building.
This works in cases where the accused is related to the home owner in some way. For example a woman may bring charges against her boyfriend invading her home. This happens quite often in home invasions charges. The defendant may be able to build a good defense in using the first strategy.
The second strategy is to argue that the defendant was not carrying any weapons and did not threaten any use of force. This is a more reasonable defense and commonly used in home invasion cases. The defendant’s behavior during home invasion plays an important part when determining if this strategy would work.