LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Mitchell Scott Sexner | Apr 16, 2010

Theft, Robbery and Burglary Criminal Offenses in Illinois

In Illinois, theft involves taking something that does not belong to you without authority or without the permission of the owner. Whether this is a result of deception, force or threat does not matter, as all such circumstances constitute theft. Theft cases may be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on many factors, including the value of the item and the criminal history of the defendant. When the item is taken from a retail store, the laws are different than when an item is taken from a person, an auto, a house or a place of business. It is vitally important that an experienced criminal attorney carefully examines the particular facts of your case.

When the item is taken from a person by force, the crime may also be charged as a felony robbery, whether is involves a purse snatching, picking a pocket or simply grabbing an item from someone's possession. Robbery is more than just a stick up with a gun. Just like theft, the specific circumstances of the crime may make the possible punishment more severe. When a weapon is used, the charge will likely be armed robbery. When a motor vehicle or car is taken by force, the charge will likely be vehicular hijacking, also known as car jacking.

When someone enters another person's property or home without permission, the defendant will often be charged with criminal trespass or criminal trespass to vehicle. But when the person enters a building or vehicle with the intent to commit a felony or theft, the much more serious burglary or residential burglary may be charged, which may result in penitentiary time. Despite what many people believe, it does not really matter if the home or car is unlocked, if anything was damaged, or even whether something was actually stolen.

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The best outcome for a person facing such a charge is to convince the prosecution to dismiss the case. However, if the prosecution is unwilling to dismiss the case, experienced attorneys can review your case to determine whether a defense may apply. In most cases, the prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, so if an agreement cannot be reached with the prosecutor or judge, your criminal defense attorney will be properly prepared to take your case to trial.

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