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Posted on in Burglary

IL defense lawyerRobbery and burglary are two theft crimes that are sometimes spoken of interchangeably, but in reality, they are very different, at least under Illinois law. One is generally charged more highly than the other, but there are always exceptions. Either way, it is important to understand that each charge has very specific criteria that must be met if you are to be convicted. By knowing this, it may be possible to focus your efforts (that is, your attorney’s) on attacking specific pillars of the relevant charge.

Burglary Basics

Burglary is defined as someone entering into or remaining “without authority” in a building or vehicle (many types of vehicles qualify under the statute, including automobiles and boats, among others) with the intent to commit a theft or felony therein. The statute was just modified in recent years to include more areas than simply buildings (previously, only buildings were implicated in the law explicitly). It is important to keep in mind that while it is not enumerated in the law itself, the courts recognize residential burglary as somewhat more serious due to the nature of the crime, which is why it is usually charged as a Class 1 felony, while regular burglary is a Class 2 felony, which can in some cases be pled down to probation.

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property crimeWhen you think of “property,” your mind likely goes straight to your house, apartment, or land. Keep in mind that there are actually two types of property: personal property and real property. Real property is anything that is attached in a permanent state to land, while personal property is everything else. Personal property can be tangible, i.e. a cell phone, or intangible i.e. securities (stocks and bonds).

The Felony Class System in Illinois

Regardless of whether the crime committed involves real or personal property, being convicted of these crimes can have severe consequences. For example, in Illinois, a residential burglary conviction is a Class 1 felony. which requires a sentence between four and 15 years. The class system in Illinois provides for four “classes,” plus a fifth, “class X,” which was recently added to the system. Class X is considered the most severe, followed by Classes 1, 2, and 3. Class 4 is the lowest level felony, meaning it carries the shortest sentences. However, it is still a felony, which means it can have a significant impact on one’s future personal and professional life.

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Article 18 of the Illinois Criminal Code makes a distinction between what crimes are considered aggravated robbery and what crimes qualify as armed robbery.  While it's possible for an individual to be charged with either when committing a robbery, each charge carries different prerequisites by law.

A person commits armed robbery when he or she:

  1. “Carries on or about” their person a firearm or a dangerous weapon.
  2. Personally discharges a firearm during the course of the crime.
  3. Personally discharges a firearm during the course of the crime that “proximately causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, permanent disfigurement, or death to another person”

Armed robbery is classified as a Class X Felony offense, the highest class of felony in the state of Illinois.  If convicted of armed robbery, a person will have 15-25  years of imprisonment added to his or her sentence.

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