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Residential Burglary: Legal Implications and Defense Strategies

What You Should Know About Residential Burglary in Chicago

Residential burglary occurs in situations where a person illegally gains entry into a house and remains unlawfully with the intention to commit theft or a felony. This crime not only robs the individual of their possessions but also their peace of mind. Statistics reveal that residential burglary rates fluctuate, with numerous factors influencing the likelihood of such incidents.

One might wonder what the legal repercussions are once caught. These questions are crucial as we delve into the complex world of property crimes. We at Hirsch Law Group bring you a detailed explanation of residential burglary, its legal implications, and how experienced criminal defense lawyers in Illinois can assist those facing such charges.

Explore with us to understand the intricacies and defense strategies involved in these cases.

Understanding Residential Burglary

According to the Illinois Compiled Statutes (720 ILCS 5/19-3), a person commits residential burglary when they knowingly and illegally enter into or remain in someone’s dwelling place with the intent to commit a felony or theft. The core elements typically include unlawful entry and criminal intent.

Unlawful Entry: This means entering a home without permission. It can involve breaking a window or door, but even an unlocked door presents unlawful entry if permission is not granted.

Intent to Commit a Crime: The person must have the intent to commit a felony offense or theft once inside, regardless of the value of the property stolen. Therefore, a petty theft will constitute a residential burglary if it meets the criteria mentioned above. It’s not enough to just enter unlawfully; there must be a criminal purpose.

Understanding these elements helps us recognize what constitutes residential burglary in Illinois and the seriousness of the crime. 

Residential Burglary vs. Burglary

Residential burglary involves breaking into a home or living space to steal or cause damage. This type of burglary deeply impacts victims due to the personal nature of their belongings and the violation of their private space. It is different from a regular burglary offense (720 ILCS 5/19-1), which can encompass various types of structures, including commercial properties, a house trailer, watercraft, aircraft, or motor vehicle.

Knowing the difference between both types of burglary can help you develop targeted strategies for your defense. Each type of burglary presents unique challenges, emphasizing the need for assistance from a skilled criminal defense attorney, which is tailored to your unique circumstances.

The Legal Consequences of Residential Burglary

Residential burglary is treated as a serious offense. The consequences vary widely depending on many factors. These factors can include the state’s laws, the specific circumstances of the crime, and the offender’s criminal history. In Illinois, residential burglary is classified as a Class 1 felony, which carries a determinate sentence of imprisonment between four and fifteen years.

An extended term for this offense attracts a prison term between fifteen and thirty years. Fines can also be significant, reaching up to $100,000 or more for felony convictions.

Aggravating Factors:

  • Presence of Occupants: If the burglary occurs while someone is home, penalties may be more severe.

  • Use of Weapons: Burglars armed with firearms or dangerous weapons often face harsher sentences.

  • Criminal History: Repeat offenders typically receive greater penalties.

Other outcomes of a residential burglary conviction include a permanent criminal record, which can affect several aspects of your life, including employment, housing, and educational opportunities. Additionally, the court may order that the defendant pay restitution for the losses incurred by the affected party. 

To avoid these severe consequences, it’s crucial to seek legal representation. Those facing charges can partner with a Chicago property crimes attorney to mount a robust defense.

Defense Strategies in Residential Burglary Cases

When facing residential burglary charges, various defense strategies can be employed.

Claim of Innocence

A common defense is the claim of actual innocence. Our lawyer can argue that you did not commit the crime. This requires showing the court that there is reasonable doubt regarding your involvement. The burden of proof lies with the prosecution.


An effective defense strategy is presenting an alibi. We can provide evidence that you were somewhere else when the burglary occurred. This might include presenting a witness testimony or video footage.

Lack of Intent

Intent plays a crucial role in burglary cases. If we can demonstrate that your entry into the property was not for the purpose of committing a crime, this could significantly impact the case. For instance, showing that you entered the premises by mistake or had permission can be persuasive.

Character Witnesses

Bringing in character witnesses can bolster your defense. Friends, family, or coworkers can testify about your good nature and law-abiding behavior. This strategy can challenge the prosecution’s portrayal of you as a criminal.


If you had permission to be on the property, we might use this as a defense. Proving that the property owner granted you access can help dismiss the charges.


Entrapment occurs when law enforcement induces someone to commit a crime they otherwise wouldn’t have. If we can show that you were coerced or tricked, it may be a viable defense.

Applying these defenses effectively requires knowledge of legal nuances, and we tailor our approach to the case’s specifics. 

How Hirsch Law Group Can Help

If you are facing residential burglary charges, our dedicated team at Hirsch Law Group is here to assist you. We offer comprehensive consultation services to help you understand your legal options.

Consultation and Case Evaluation 

During the consultation, we review the details of your case, answer your questions, and outline potential defense strategies. Our attorneys provide thorough case evaluations, assessing the evidence and identifying weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. This helps us build a strong defense tailored to your situation.


With years of experience in handling criminal cases, we have a proven track record of successful outcomes. Our knowledge of the Illinois Criminal Code includes handling various levels of burglary charges ensuring you receive skilled legal representation.

Why Choose Us?

  • Experienced Attorneys: Hundreds of cases litigated successfully.

  • Personalized Defense: Custom strategies for your unique case.

  • Strong Advocacy: Dedicated to protecting your rights.

For those in need of legal help, we invite you to contact Hirsch Law Group for a consultation. Let our experience work for you.