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Defending Against Residential Burglary Charges – Illinois Criminal Defense Counsel
It is a crime to enter into a building with the intent of committing a crime within the premises, whether that building is a residence, business, school, public facility, or place of worship. There are a number of crimes that are classified as burglary crimes. These crimes include home invasion and residential burglary. Under Illinois law, it is illegal to burglarize a home and this offense is charged as a specific crime. This offense is charged as a Class 1 felony. A person who is convicted of this crime faces a punishment of between four and 15 years in prison. See 720 ILCS 5/19-3. When a person is facing these serious felony charges, it is critical to obtain the representation of a skilled and dedicated criminal defense attorney.
Attorney David L. Freidberg has fought for the rights of his clients for nearly two decades. Focusing on individuals charged with crimes in Cook County, Illinois and the surrounding area, Mr. Freidberg is committed to providing a zealous defense to those accused of a crime. Residential burglary charges are extremely serious felonies. A first-time offender faces mandatory prison time if he or she is convicted and does not qualify for diversionary programs, so it is crucial to defend against these charges aggressively. At the Law Offices of David L. Freidberg, P.C., our team of legal professionals will pursue every avenue of defense to get the right outcome for our clients.
The Elements of a Residential Burglary Charge
An individual may be charged with residential burglary if he or she:
- Enters the residence of another without authority or remains in the residence of another without authority – there must be a demonstration that the person took this action knowingly; and
- Enters or remains in the residence with the intent to commit a theft or other felony act; or
- Gains entry to a residence with the intent to commit a theft or other felony act by misrepresenting himself, including through the pretense of being with a utility or telecommunications company.
A person may be charged with the crime of illegally entering a residence of another person with the intent to steal something even if he did not actually move any property from the location. The prosecutor merely has to demonstrate the defendant’s intent to remove property that does not belong to him or commit some other felony criminal act inside the premises. The crime of residential burglary is charged when there is a home involved in the criminal activity. The person will not be charged with the additional offense of simple burglary under these circumstances.
The following locations satisfy the definition of a residence under 720 ILCS 5/19-3:
- A one-family dwelling, duplex, or townhome;
- An apartment or condominium unit;
- A mobile home or trailer;
- A watercraft with living quarters; and
- A recreational vehicle.
Locations that will not qualify as residences are those that are no longer habitable or have not yet been made habitable. Therefore, a condemned building or structure that has not been completed will not form the basis for a charge involving illegally entering a residence with the intent of stealing property.
The critical element of this crime is the intent to commit a crime inside. Many times, the prosecutor relies on circumstantial evidence to prove this. For example, when a person has entered a single family home without permission and removes a flat-screen television and tablet, the prosecuting attorney can use the act of removing the property as evidence that the person possessed the requisite intent before entering into the premises. Even if the alarm being triggered prevents the person from carrying out his or her intent, the prosecutor can rely on the totality of the circumstances to make his case.
A person can be charged with a more serious criminal offense, home invasion, if he or she has a weapon and threatens people in the house with the use of force, actually injures someone during the commission of the crime, discharges a firearm, or sexually assaults someone during the commission of the underlying burglary.
Penalties for Residential Burglary
A general burglary charge is a Class 2 felony. However, when the burglary involves a personal residence, then it is charged as a more serious Class 1 felony. If convicted, the defendant could be sentenced to between four and 15 years in an Illinois prison. Burglarizing a residence may be pled down to a charge of trespass in an occupied residence, which is a Class 4 felony that carries with it the potential prison sentence of between one to three years in prison. There also is the potential for a charge of criminal trespass to a residence, which is a Class A misdemeanor eligible for a sentence of court supervision. In addition to prison time, the court also may impose legal fines for these various crimes, with the amount of the fine dependent on the severity of the charges.
Defending against Burglary Charges
Although there are many different defenses based on the facts of the person’s situation, cases involving entering a residence with the intent to commit a crime often involve eyewitness testimony. It is important to mount a careful strategy to challenge the testimony and discredit the witness. In addition to the direct attack on the testimony, it is important to challenge the other evidence, including how it was collected and handled. When there are overzealous prosecutors and law enforcement officers, they may take shortcuts in obtaining evidence, which may have compromised a defendant’s rights. As part of the overall defense strategy, each element of the prosecutor’s case will be examined so that the defense attorney can develop an effective strategy based on the unique facts of the case.
David L. Freidberg Fights Tenaciously for Individuals Charged with a Crime
Prosecutors and police officers take crimes involving residences very seriously. When a person is charged with illegally entering a person’s home with the intent to commit a theft or felonious act, it is crucial to retain an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney who has the skills to successfully overcome these charges. If the defendant is convicted of this type of crime, the felony conviction likely will lead to serious prison time. After the person has completed the sentence, the criminal record will follow him as he tries to rebuild his or her life. At the Law Offices of David L. Freidberg, P.C., our team of legal professionals will analyze each piece of evidence, look for inconsistencies or dishonesty in witness testimony, and challenge the procedures followed by the investigating officers and prosecutors in order to get the best possible results for our clients. Although we never hesitate to proceed to trial, if the circumstances warrant it, we will attempt to negotiate a preferential deal if it is the right decision for our client. Please do not hesitate to contact or call the office at (312) 560-7100 or (800) 803-1442 in order to schedule a free consultation. We are available 24/7 for your convenience.
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