Suppose you were visiting a public building. You had business in the building and had every right to be there. But while there, you entered an office marked “private,” and stole some cash off a desk. Does that make you a burglar?

In Illinois, the answer is yes. You commit burglary when you enter a building or any part of that building without authority and with the intent to commit a felony or theft. According to Illinois case law, you still entered the office without authority even though you had a right to enter the building itself. The private area need not have a door so long as the space is off limits.

The fact you didn’t know part of the building was off limits may not matter. Illinois courts have held that when a person enters part of a building “with the intent to commit a theft or felony, that person enters that part without authority, regardless of whether that part of the building is normally held open to the public and regardless of whether that person entered the building as a whole with authority.” (See People v Gharrett).

If you have been charged with burglary or another crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most criminal offenses, the state must prove you guilty of each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state prove that you lacked authority to be in a building or that you intended to commit a crime? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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