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What Is the Difference Between Theft and Burglary in Illinois?

 Posted on May 09, 2023 in Criminal Defense

naperville criminal defense lawyerIn general, property crimes include offenses where property owned by one person is stolen or damaged by someone else. While these charges will often involve accusations of theft, other offenses, such as burglary, may also apply in some situations. These crimes may seem similar, but they have different legal definitions and consequences. Understanding the nature of these offenses and the potential penalties that may apply if a person is convicted can be crucial for anyone who is being investigated or prosecuted for property crimes.

Misdemeanor or Felony Theft Charges

Theft generally involves taking someone's property without their consent with the intent to deprive them of it. There are numerous actions that could potentially lead to theft charges, including purposely stealing items that belong to someone else or failing to return property that was rented or borrowed. These cases may sometimes involve misunderstandings, such as when there is confusion about who is the actual owner of an item, although they will often be based on accusations that a person took money or property that they knew was owned by a person or company with the intention of keeping it for themselves.

In Illinois, theft can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the money or goods that were allegedly stolen. In general, theft of property worth less than $500 that was not directly taken from a person is a Class A misdemeanor. The punishments for a Class A misdemeanor may include a sentence of up to a year in jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,500.

When a person is accused of stealing more than $500, or if a case involves other circumstances, such as taking something directly from a person or committing theft in a school or church, felony charges may apply. Depending on the value of the money or property that was allegedly stolen, the charges may range from a Class 4 felony with a prison sentence of one to three years to a Class X felony with a sentence of six to 30 years. In Illinois, all felony offenses have a maximum fine of $25,000.

Burglary Related to Theft or Other Felonies

Burglary involves entering a building, a home, a vehicle, a boat, a railroad car, or another enclosed space without permission with the intent to commit theft or a felony. Burglary is a felony offense, and these charges may apply in addition to charges for other offenses committed at the same time. The penalties for burglary can vary depending on the location where the alleged offense occurred:

  • Burglary in a boat, aircraft, or freight container - This may be charged as a Class 3 felony if the property was not damaged. A Class 3 felony carries a sentence of two to five years in prison. However, if damage to a vehicle, boat, aircraft, or freight container occurred, Class 2 felony charges may apply, and a person may be sentenced to three to seven years.

  • Burglary in a building - This offense may be charged as a Class 2 felony. However, if burglary occurred in a school, day care center, or other child care facility, Class 1 felony charges may apply. A Class 1 felony may result in a sentence of four to 15 years.

  • Residential burglary - Entering a home or other dwelling place with the intent to commit a felony or steal property, including when a person falsely represents themselves as a government employee, construction worker, or utility or communications technician, is a Class 1 felony.

Contact Our DuPage County Property Crimes Defense Lawyer

If you are facing charges for theft, burglary, or other property crimes, it is essential to work with a lawyer who can explain your options and provide you with a strong defense. With the right legal representation, you can navigate the criminal justice system with confidence. To learn how the Naperville theft and burglary defense attorney at Law Office of Philip R. Nathe can assist with your case, contact us at 630-416-7600 and set up a free consultation.


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