Chicago Burglary Lawyer
Burglary consists of illegally entering a building in order to commit a crime. The building can be a home or business, and contrary to popular belief, the crime does not necessarily have to be theft. It can be vandalism, homicide, or any other illegal activity. Burglary and robbery are two different crimes. Robbery typically involves threatening people to hand over their money and other possessions. Burglary is often done when no one is home. There is no force must be involved.
If you have been accused of burglary, protect your legal rights and get help right away from a Chicago burglary lawyer. The outcome of your case will likely depend on how effectively your lawyer can navigate the pretrial stage of the case.
To increase your chances of success, call O’Meara Law today at 312-909-0706 for a free and confidential consultation.
How Does Illinois Law Define Burglary
Traditionally, burglary was a crime that applied to the breaking and entering of houses at night. The definition has expanded since then to include businesses as well. In addition, the crime can occur during the day.
To obtain your conviction for burglary, a prosecutor will need to prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The unauthorized entry
- Into a home, building, or other structure
- With the intention of committing a felony crime or theft
Breaking and entry can consist of actually breaking down a door, picking a lock, or pushing a door open. Simply sticking a hand through a window is enough to constitute entry. It can also entail using non-physical force such as fraud or threats.
The second element involves a home or structure that can house people or property. This includes sheds, garages, office buildings, and stores. If the structure in question is a store or office, it can be burglarized only while it is closed. If the crime occurs during normal operating hours, then it is considered shoplifting or theft. In addition, abandoned buildings and fenced areas – such as park – may not be the subject of a burglary.
The intent to commit a crime is the third and final element. If you break into a building and do nothing, then it’s not burglary. The time at which you decided to commit the crime is important. If the breaking and entering was premeditated, then it becomes a more serious offense than if you did not intend to commit a crime until you entered the building.
Penalties for Burglary
Most burglary cases are Class 2 felonies. These are punishable by three to seven years in prison. If the burglary occurs in a residence, school, or place of worship, then the charge becomes a Class 1 felony, which is punishable by four to 15 years in prison. You could also be fined an amount up to $25,000. If you have prior offenses, the court has the authority to increase the sentence.
Burglary is a crime that can follow you the rest of your life. Having a conviction on your criminal record can result in any of the following collateral consequences:
- Inability to obtain a good job
- Difficulty getting accepted into college
- Ineligibility for certain professional licenses
- Barring from receiving certain government funded welfare or housing assistance
- For felons, inability to own or even use firearms
- For non-citizens, the likelihood of deportation proceedings
How O’Meara Law Can Help
Burglary offenses can come with hefty penalties, so it’s important to have a Chicago burglary lawyer on your side before you enter the courtroom. By hiring a lawyer early in the process and challenging the prosecutor’s evidence or the basis for your arrest, you may even get the charges dropped.
O’Meara Law can help you build a solid defense. If you plead not guilty, the prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A skilled legal advocate may be able to plant the seed of doubt in the minds of the jury with a reasonable alibi or exculpatory evidence.
A conviction for burglary must be based on all three elements of the offense discussed above. This means that if you show there is even a sliver of doubt as to one of the elements, such as your intent to commit a crime once inside, or whether you actually forcibly entered, an acquittal is a very real possibility. You can also attempt to prove that you had permission from the owner to enter the property.
Chicago criminal defense lawyer Michael O’Meara has two decades of experience in the courtroom, including the defense of felony and theft crimes. If you’re facing burglary charges, contact O’Meara Law today at 312-909-0706 to find out how we can defend your rights and obtain a positive resolution of your case.