You were invited to a party at the apartment of someone you didn’t know very well. The party was fun, and you drank a lot. Shortly after you left early in the morning, you realized you forgot your coat. You thought you remembered the apartment, but when you rang the bell, no one answered. The door was unlocked, so you figured you’d just go in and get your coat. You knew the host wouldn’t mind. But to your horror, you entered the wrong unit. The residents had been sleeping and immediately called the police. You ran away, but the police picked you up down the street. Now you are charged with criminal trespass to a residence.

What is that? What can you do?

Under 720 ILCS 5/19-4, criminal trespass to a residence means that you knowingly entered or remained: (a) without authority within any residence, including a house trailer that is the dwelling place of another. This is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail; or (b) in someone’s residence when you knew or had reason to know that someone else was present. This is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison. For apartment buildings, a residence means the actual apartment unit and not the common areas.

If you are charged with criminal trespass, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. As with most crimes, the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Were the residents able to identify you? Did you knowingly enter without authority or did you believe you had permission? Did a third party let you in? 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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