Articles Posted in Burglary

ORC or organized retail crime is now a huge buzzword for Chicago police after a string of robberies and burglaries targeting valuable retail merchandise. Police now have a man in custody who is believed to be a “ringleader” of a smash and grab ring that netted over $175,000 in capital. The ringleader is facing nine counts of burglary charges. He is suspected in dozens of more burglaries targeting various retail stores in the Chicago area. 

According to police, the suspect was apprehended by his car after private security footage caught the individual and three others dumping cash registers and other merchandise. Police are now targeting the crew employed by the ringleader to carry out the specific burglaries. If precedent has any say, the ringleader will be more than happy to provide any information the police want in exchange for a reduction of his sentence. However, the ringleader must be both willing and able to provide that information. Typically, prosecutors will not want to trade down to get lower-level contributors. The idea is generally to work in the other direction. However, law enforcement has been known to work the opposite way when it benefits them. 

Understanding Burglary Charges

The law is seldom funny, yet here we are. Two women are being charged with felony burglary and battery after breaking into a man’s apartment and glitter bombing him during a dispute. Police say they have the altercation on video and at one point, one of the women threw the glitter can at the victim. Police later traced the women’s vehicle to their home. Police found evidence of glitter within the vehicle. 

How Serious are These Charges?

The two women are facing life in prison in Florida, where the crime occurred. Why? Because they burglarized a home and committed battery at the same time. Burglary + Battery + Florida = Potential Life Sentence. Florida is not a great place to play around. The Florida police are not necessarily going to make a huge distinction between someone entering a home to rob it and someone entering a home to play a prank. No matter what happened here, whether it was a domestic argument turned upside down or just a drunk prank, the actual penalties they are facing are extremely severe.

lefteris-kallergis-j1GiPlvSGWI-unsplash-copy-300x200Prosecutors say that 15-year-old Javon Wilson was shot to death over a pair of Air Jordan sneakers. According to his sister, Khaliyah Wilson, two teenagers brandishing guns came knocking on her door to recover the sneakers. The court has barred prosecutors from mentioning the fact that Javon Wilson is the grandson of 12-term congressman Danny Davis. The alleged gunmen, Tariq Harris and Dijae Banks, were 16 and 17 at the time of the shooting.

According to reports, Jeremy Murphy, another brother of the Wilsons had traded a pair of pants for the sneakers on a temporary basis. Banks had come to reclaim the sneakers but Javon Wilson would not return them without first getting the pants. The whole thing went sideways when Khaliyah Wilson attempted to kick the boys out. The argument turned into a fist fight and eventually, one of the boys pulled a gun and fired at Javon Wilson. The bullet entered into his neck where it struck an artery. The boy died there.

What Will Happen to These Boys?

ben-white-194220-copy-300x200In Bloomington, a verdict hangs in the air around a 2016 home invasion case. An armed robbery occurred in the home of a Bloomington couple, and the defendant is being charged with attempted murder, armed robbery, home invasion, and a weapons charge. One member of the group of three posed as a pizza delivery man and made his way into the home, at which point the group demanded $40,000 in cash from the couple. While the details of the cash remain contested, and the total number of men involved and their degree of involvement is debatable, what remains clear is that home invasion happens all too frequently. When it does, victims need an attorney with a history of fighting criminal issues in Chicago.

How to Find a Good Attorney

If you are facing a similar situation, or you too have faced a home invasion case recently, whether as the victim or the defendant, you need legal help. Hiring just any attorney will not do. You need an expert in Home invasion laws. Expert attorneys know the latest changes that Illinois lawmakers have put into effect regarding home invasions. By definition, home invasion differs from other violations in that it only covers entering an inhabited dwelling and causing injury. However, it can also cover entering an inhabited dwelling and using or threatening to use force while armed. In the case of the latter, you might need an expert in weapons cases to lead the charge in your favor after a home invasion.  

jaanus-jagomagi-377699-unsplash-copy-200x300Burglary denotes illegal entry into a building with the intention of stealing property or money. In reality, burglary covers several possible circumstances. The recent burglary attempt in Naperville is one such instance. An 18-year-old and three other teens were involved. Charges of burglary can result in serious charges, depending on the situation.

Burglary as a Criminal Offense

Illinois law has listed several situations that constitute burglary. For instance, illegal entry can signify gaining entry under false pretenses. Normally, Class 2 felony is the sentence given for burglary. This can lead to a prison term of three to seven years, depending on the case.

800px-Compact_bolt_cutters_215mm-300x134Crimes or accusations of inference and supposition ought to be relatively easy to defend because of the lack of clarity surrounding them. However, the reality is that the legislation has been written in such a way as to favor the prosecutor and the accusing officer. The basic tenets of the law under the provisions of statutory instrument number 720 ILCS 5/19-1 are that if you are caught with paraphernalia that could be used to commit a crime; then the authorities are well within their rights to accuse you of the intention to commit that crime.

That is not always the case in all crimes, but in the case of burglary the principle more or less operates as described above. That then leads the defense counsel to determine what exactly constitutes crime-related paraphernalia. In this, as in many other things, the law is still lacking in clarity. For example, something like a bolt cutter could be used for legitimate carpentry operations as part of a professional undertaking. At the same time, it remains one of the most common tools that home burglars use in order to gain access.

Developing the Rules Through Experience

file000340814082Home invasions have been the fodder for criminal defense attorneys in Illinois for ages. Recently there has been a growing conversation around the response of the homeowner and whether he or she is legally protected. States like Florida have a stand-your-ground provision which has sometimes led to tragic consequences. To make matters worse, some of these incidents are alleged to involve an element of racial animus. One need only look back at the circus surrounding the George Zimmerman case to realize that self-defense is never as simple as it looks on paper when the laws are first drafted.

Burglaries are going to continue and defense lawyers are going to continue to use every trick in the book to get an acquittal or generous sentence for their clients. This article highlights some of the important considerations for the law as it stands but also the implications for defendants and homeowners.

A Law that is a Series of Compromises and Interests

According to a report from the Oak Lawn Patch, four men were arrested in connection to an early morning robbery on July 10. At around 1:12 a.m. on July 10, police responded to a call that three people were robbed at gunpoint by two men. Both alleged gunmen reportedly fled in a Ford SUV. Police canvassed the area and found an SUV that matched the description. After following the vehicle briefly, it was stopped, and the police recovered the stolen property and a weapon from the SUV. The victims identified the men as the robbers.4251992459_ec92a8530b

Three of the men were charged with aggravated armed robbery. The fourth man was charged with one misdemeanor count of mob action. Bail was set at $100,000 for two of the men, $50,000 for the third, and $120 for the individual charged with mob action.

Robbery  and Accomplice Liability in Illinois

In general, robbery in Illinois involves taking the property of another by using force or by threatening to use imminent force. If, during the robbery, the defendant either carried a weapon, discharged a firearm, or discharged a firearm within proximity to the crime that caused great bodily harm or death to another person, it is considered armed robbery. Additionally, Illinois treats the robbery of a motor vehicle differently and considers it vehicular hijacking.

A robbery charge can become an aggravated robbery charge if  the defendant takes the property of another by force or threat of imminent force and either verbally indicates that he or she is armed with a weapon, or the defendant drugs the victim without consent using a controlled substance.

Here, the two alleged gunmen were charged with aggravated robbery, indicating that there may have been a verbal exchange where they stated they were armed with a weapon since there was no evidence of drugging. A third person was also charged with aggravated robbery, presumably because he was an accomplice as the driver of the vehicle.

These forms of robbery are all considered felonies in Illinois. Plain robbery is a Class 2 felony, which carries a sentence of three to seven years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000, with a mandatory parole period upon release of two years. If the robbery occurred in a school, day care center, child care facility, or place of worship, it is a Class 1 felony with a possible sentence of four to fifteen years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000. Similarly, it has a mandatory parole period upon release of two years.

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A prolific shoplifter, who was previously convicted of stealing $ 2 million in merchandise from Toys “R” Us stores in 2012, was arrested and charged with burglary for attempting to steal paintbrushes from a Hobby Lobby in Lombard, IL.  According to a report, the suspect, Ignatius Pollara of Tamarac, IL, served two years in jail for the Toys “R” Us thefts, which involved 139 store locations in 27 states.  He now faces charges in DuPage County.10882873714_a225ec87c4

Allegedly, Pollara took paintbrushes from a Hobby Lobby in Lombard, IL and hid them in his pants near the small of his back.  After doing so, Pollara tried to leave the store and was immediately apprehended.  Police in DuPage and Cook County were alerted beforehand that Pollara was planning a trip to the Chicago area from Florida. They tailed Pollara in the Chicago area, where he spent four nights in different motels, each near a major shopping center.  Additionally, police placed a tracking device on Pollara’s rental car, and a search of the vehicle revealed suspected stolen merchandise. He is charged with one count of felony burglary.

Retail Theft vs. Burglary

Here, Pollara was charged with burglary. A person commits burglary in Illinois if he or she enters or remains in a building, house trailer, watercraft, aircraft, motor vehicle, railroad car without authority; and does so with the intent to commit a felony or theft inside. Prosecutors have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the charged individual entered (or remained) with the intent to commit theft or some other felony. Pollara was apprehended attempting to leave the Hobby Lobby with hidden items taken from the store. His pattern of staying in motels near retail stores, along with stolen merchandise found in his car, may be used as evidence to prove that he entered the hobby lobby with the intent to commit theft inside.

Illinois has stringent retail theft or shoplifting laws. In Illinois, a person is guilty of retail theft if he or she knowingly takes possession of, carries away, transfers, or causes to be carried away or transferred any merchandise displayed, held, stored, or offered for sale in a retail establishment with the intention of retaining such merchandise of depriving the merchant permanently of the possession, use, or benefit of such merchandise, without paying the full retail value.

If the value of the items was $300 or less, the retail theft is a Class A misdemeanor. If the value was greater, the defendant can be charged with a Class 4 felony. However, if the defendant has a prior conviction of retail theft, or any theft-related offense such as robbery, armed robbery, residential robbery, possession of burglary tools or home invasion, the offense is automatically a Class 4 felony.

Burglary Penalties

Burglary is considered a Class 2 felony in Illinois, which is punishable by three to seven years in prison.  However, if the suspect had not been convicted of a class 2 felony or greater within the previous ten years, up to four years of probation may be available. If the burglary involved someone’s home, it is considered residential burglary, which is much  more serious. It becomes a Class 1 felony, which is punishable from four to fifteen years in prison and probation is unavailable.

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Ronald E. Kelley Jr., originally from Carterville, IL, was convicted of burglary and attempted residential burglary on April 7 according to a news report.  On June 24, he was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for attempted residential burglary and eight years for burglary. He was also required to serve a three-year period of mandatory supervised release on each count.6283422937_acc69eafd1

Kelley was charged with burglarizing an automobile before trying to enter a home in Murphysboro, IL. A woman who lived at the home told dispatchers that she saw a man halfway through her bathroom window. He retreated from her window and fled when she confronted him. The woman later identified the man as Kelley.

According to the police, the woman and car burglary victim gave the same description at the time of the alleged incidents. Officers later found Kelley walking down a road near the homes and searched him. During the search, they found property on Kelley which they identified as having been stolen from a third victim.

Illinois Burglary Law

Under Illinois law, a person commits burglary if he or she enters or remains in a building, house trailer, watercraft, aircraft, motor vehicle, or railroad car without authority, and does so with the intent to commit a felony or theft inside. If convicted, burglary is considered a Class 2 felony in Illinois, which is punishable from three to seven years in prison.  Up to four years of probation may be available if there are no convictions of a class 2 felony or greater within the previous ten years. However, if the burglary involved someone’s home, it is considered residential burglary, which is much more serious and considered a class 1 felony. Residential burglary is punishable from four to fifteen years in prison and probation is unavailable.

Possible defenses to burglary may include negating the first element of the offense by proving that the individual had the consent of the owner or occupier of the property to enter.  In these cases, there would be no unauthorized entry.  Even if the defendant misunderstood the owner and erroneously believed he had permission, the belief in the consent, if reasonable, may be enough to defeat a charge of burglary.

Also, burglary requires that a person have the specific intent to commit theft or a felony once inside the property. If a person was intoxicated, it may be a valid defense to the degree that it kept the defendant from forming the specific intent.

The Reliability of Eyewitness Testimony

As in the case above, eyewitness testimony is often the lynchpin evidence used by prosecutors to achieve a burglary conviction.  However, according to the Innocence Project, eyewitness misidentification is the greatest contributing factor to wrongful convictions proven by DNA testing.  Eyewitness testimony plays a role in more than 70% of convictions overturned through DNA testing nationwide. In eyewitness identifications, witness memory is often impacted by a variety of factors that occur from the time of the crime onwards, and human memory is vulnerable and easily contaminated. Therefore, eyewitness testimony is often not as accurate as juries often believe it to be, and police eyewitness identification procedures can have a major effect on the accuracy of identifications.

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