broken rear windshield

Is Breaking into a Vehicle a Felony in Illinois?

Many think that theft crimes, when compared to violent acts, are much less severe. Though morally this may be true, in the eyes of the law, these charges are taken very seriously, especially in Illinois. If you’ve been charged with burglary to a motor vehicle, understanding the penalties you can face for this crime is critical. The following blog explores what you must know about these charges and how a Peoria theft lawyer can assist if accused of breaking into a vehicle.

What Warrants Burglary to a Motor Vehicle?

Burglary to a motor vehicle occurs when someone enters a person’s home, motor vehicle, or other property with the intent to commit a felony or theft. As such, any time you enter someone’s car in the hopes of taking property from inside of the car, you are committing burglary. It’s important to understand that whether or not the car was locked does not change these charges.

Generally, this is often charged in tandem with criminal trespass to a vehicle, which is charged to anyone who enters a vehicle and operates it. This also applies to boats and snowmobiles.

What Are the Penalties for Breaking into a Vehicle?

The penalties for vehicle burglary can be intense. Generally, Burglary to a motor vehicle is deemed a Class 3 felony. This charge carries two to five years in prison and a fine of up to $25,00. The charges will increase to a Class 2 felony if you damage any part of the vehicle while attempting to enter. You can face a Class 1 felony if you burglarize a vehicle in a school, daycare center, or place of worship.

Generally, criminal trespass to a vehicle is a Class A misdemeanor, which is a lighter charge than the aforementioned offenses. This traditionally carries up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Are There Any Possible Defenses?

Though it may seem impossible, there are potential defenses you can employ when facing a burglary to a motor vehicle charge. If you can prove you had permission to enter the vehicle or even held a genuine belief you had permission, you may be able to get the charges dismissed. For example, if you entered another car of the same make and model as your own, you may be able to show that this was simply a mistake and nothing malicious. This is because you had no intention of committing a crime or taking anything.

You may be able to prove that the evidence collected against you was obtained illegally. This means it would violate your rights as a criminal defendant, and the evidence may then be deemed inadmissible in court, which can help your case.

If you are facing criminal charges related to vehicle burglary, it’s imperative to connect with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. At Giraudo Law, we have the necessary experience to help you navigate the complexities of this matter. Connect with our team today to learn how we can guide you through this process.

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