Burglary and robbery are often used interchangeably by the media, movies, and people in their everyday conversations. However, under Illinois law, burglary and robbery are actually two different and separate felony crimes. It is important for people to understand the difference between burglary and robbery, especially when facing felony criminal charges for stealing property. Two recent stories out of Illinois demonstrate the difference between the two felony crimes.

The first story occurred in mid-August, in Chicago’s Orland Park. According to the Chicago Tribune, 64-year-old Frank Williamson, who was already imprisoned for two counts of burglary, was charged with another count of burglary for breaking into, entering, and stealing property from a condominium. In January, Mr. Williamson broke into the condo unit located on the 7200 block of 157th street, and stole electronics from the home, including a laptop and a Playstation. Mr. Williamson’s fingerprints were left in the unit, which led investigators to him. Mr. Williamson had been scheduled for court in August.

Under Illinois criminal law, a person commits burglary when he or she knowingly enters or remains in a place or property without the authority to be there, and intends to commit a felony or a theft in that place. It is important to note that under Illinois criminal laws, a person can be guilty of burglary even if the place that he or she entered was not a typical house. A person can be guilty of burglary if he or she enters any type of building, housetrailer, watercraft, aircraft, motor vehicle, or railroad car, or any part of any of those places.

Burglary is a Class 2 felony under Illinois criminal laws. However, a burglary committed in a school, day care center, day care home, group day care home, or part day child care facility, or place of worship is a Class 2 felony.

As the next story out of Evanston demonstrates, the crime of robbery does not require the breaking or entering of a building. According to chicago.cbslocal.com, earlier this month, a man, robbed the Grove Street branch of Chase bank by implying that he had a gun. The man, who has not yet been identified, handed a bank teller a note and demanded money. The teller handed over more than $2,600, and the man left the bank without further incident. At no point did anyone see that the robber actually had a weapon with him. The FBI is still investigating the matter, and has offered an award for information leading to the man.

Stealing from the bank by threatening to use a gun is a robbery under Illinois law. Under 720 ILCS 5/18-1, a person is guilty of robbery when he or she knowingly takes property (except for a car) from another person, in the presence of another person, by the use of force, or by threatening imminent use of force. Robbery is also a class 2 felony.

Robbery and burglary are serious crimes under Illinois law, and, aside from jail time, can bring severe penalties and consequences that may follow a person for the rest of his or her life. If you have been charged with a felony crime in Illinois, such as burglary or robbery, you should immediately speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Goldman & Associates today for a confidential consultation.