When people hear the words burglary and robbery, they may think they are the same crime. Although similar in nature, there are differences that make them separate in terms of penalties. Whether or not a weapon was involved in committing the act also factors into the legal consequences. Burglary is when a person illegally enters a building in order to commit a crime while inside. Robbery involves taking money or property from a person without permission by force or intimidation with the intent to keep the property permanently. In Illinois, both burglary and robbery convictions are serious crimes and can result in significant prison time in addition to steep fines.
Penalties for Burglary and Robbery
In most cases, burglary is considered a felony. Illinois laws determine burglary penalties based on certain factors such as:
- The type of crime the offender intended to commit inside the building;
- If the perpetrator was armed with a weapon;
- The type of building involved; and
- If the building was occupied at the time
The penalties for a burglary conviction depend on the felony class. Typically, burglary is a Class 2 felony in Illinois, which may result in a prison sentence of three to seven years. In some situations, burglary can be charged as a Class 1 felony, which can result in four to 15 years in prison. For felonies that are Class 2 or Class 1, the state may increase the sentence if the defendant has prior convictions for Class 2 felonies or higher. The state may also require a fine up to $25,000.
The majority of the time, robbery is also a felony. A robbery conviction can result in extended prison time and stiffer fines, especially if the crime involves a weapon. Illinois laws state robbery is a Class 2 felony, which carries a possible prison sentence of three to seven years. Aggravated robbery is when the offender tells the victim that he or she has a dangerous weapon while committing the crime. Aggravated robbery is a Class 1 felony, punishable by a sentence of four to 15 years in prison.
Armed robbery is committed if the perpetrator uses a gun or any dangerous weapon while committing the act. This is a Class X felony, resulting in a mandatory prison sentence of six to 30 years if convicted.
The most basic burglary defense is that of actual innocence. This defense involves proving to the court that the defendant did not commit the acts in question. The prosecution must prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, in order to overcome a burglary charge, the defendant must show there is some doubt as to whether the prosecution’s evidence shows that he or she committed the crime. This can be done by having an alibi or discrediting forensic evidence.
An acquittal is likely if there is any doubt in the jurors’ minds based on the following defenses:
- Defendant had permission to enter the property;
- Lack of intent to commit a crime; or
- Entrapment by law enforcement.
A defendant can argue that he or she had prior consent of the owner of the property to enter, and therefore he or she was authorized to enter the building. Since burglary also involves the actual intent to commit a crime once inside a structure, a defendant will sometimes use intoxication as a defense since it prevented him or her from thinking rationally and forming the intent prior to the crime.
Lastly, the defendant could say that someone entrapped or forced him or her to commit the crime when he or she otherwise would not have. Entrapment is difficult to prove, but it can work as a defense if there is sufficient evidence.
Contact a Joliet Criminal Defense Attorney
Burglary and robbery are similar crimes, but they can result in different penalties. If you or someone you know is facing any of these serious criminal charges, you need legal advice to plan the best possible defense. The diligent lawyers at McNamara, Phelan, McSteen, LLC have experience in both burglary and robbery defense cases. Call a skilled Will County burglary defense lawyer today at 815-727-0100 to schedule a free consultation.