What is Criminal Trespass

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Illinois law defines three types of criminal trespass: to real property, to a residence, and to a vehicle. Charges of criminal trespass in Illinois often accompany other charges such as burglary, battery , or criminal damage to property (vandalism) .

Criminal Trespass to a Residence

You commit the offense of criminal trespass to a residence when you knowingly enter or remain in a residence without authority. If you know that a resident is present, the crime is a Class 4 felony; otherwise, it is a Class A misdemeanor (720 ILCS 5/19-4). If you accidentally enter a home thinking it is the location of a party to which you were invited, and you leave when you realize your mistake or when asked to leave by the homeowner, you would not be charged with criminal trespass to a residence. However, if you crash a party and refuse to leave, you could be charged with criminal trespass. If you enter a residence with the intent to commit a crime, you could instead be charged with burglary.

Criminal Trespass to Real Property

You commit the offense of criminal trespass to real property when you knowingly enter or remain in a building or on another person’s land without authority (720 ILCS 5/21-3). If you enter a public building believing it to be open to the public, you would not be guilty of trespass. However, if you enter another person’s land which has been properly posted as “private, no trespassing,” then you could be charged with trespassing.

This offense is generally a Class B misdemeanor. However, it is a Class A misdemeanor to enter an agricultural property in or on a motor vehicle, including an ATV or dirt bike. A person who damages agricultural land while trespassing may also be required to pay restitution to the owner for damages, and parents can be required to pay for damages caused by a trespasser under the age of 16.

Criminal Trespass to a Vehicle

You commit the offense of criminal trespass to a vehicle when you knowingly and without authority enter any part of or operate any motor vehicle, aircraft, boat, or snowmobile (720 ILCS 5/21-2). If you drive off in a vehicle with the intent to return it after a short time, and then do return it without damage--an activity commonly referred to as “joyriding”--you would be guilty of criminal trespass to a vehicle. This offense is a Class A misdemeanor.

A Will County Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a trespassing offense--perhaps in conjunction with charges of theft, property damage, or domestic violence--consult a savvy Joliet criminal defense lawyer with more than a decade of experience in the criminal courts of Will County. While these may only be misdemeanor charges and not felonies, they will still go on your criminal record and appear on background checks for jobs. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation with Attorney Jack L. Zaremba.