When we hear burglary, we think of someone breaking into someone’s house and stealing something. However, as this article by Bruno Law Offices explains, burglary does NOT require any breaking and entering. Nor does it mean a theft has to occur. As the article explains, burglary means knowingly trespassing on someone’s property with intent to commit either a theft or a felony. Thus, breaking and entering isn’t required. The trespass portion of the definition means that someone could enter another person’s property unlawfully, or it means that someone can remain on someone else’s property longer than they are supposed to.

Consider this example to illustrate the trespass portion of the definition of burglary. Suppose John walks into a Home Depot at 8:00 PM, which is one hour before the store closes at 9:00 PM. He plans to hide in the store, wait for it to close, and then when no one is around, he plans to take a power drill. As you can see, there is no breaking and entering involved. In fact, John lawfully entered the Home Depot. However, because he stayed longer than he was lawfully allowed, he satisfies the trespass portion of the above-mentioned definition of burglary.

Additionally, note that the definition of burglary does not require that someone steal something after the trespass. Rather, they must have the intent to commit either a theft or a felony. So, the usual example of someone that breaks in and enters some building to steal something falls within this definition, but it also includes much more conduct.

For example, suppose John knowingly trespasses onto someone else’s property and then intends to commit an aggravated assault, and eventually he does commit the aggravated assault. While John stole nothing, he still had the intent to commit a felony. This would satisfy the second portion of the above-mentioned definition of burglary.

Another interesting thing to note about the definition of burglary is that it only mentions the intent to commit a theft or felony. It does not require the actual carrying out of the theft or felony. It only specifies the intent. This intent is also required upon the unlawful entrance of the property. So, if the intent to commit theft or felony comes way after the unlawful trespass, this may not constitute burglary as defined above. However, intent can be very tricky to prove in a court of law, because it is tough to get in someone’s mind.

As you can see, burglary, as defined by the helpful article written by knowledgeable Champaign theft and burglary lawyers, does not only include the individual that breaks and enters a home to take some item. While this type of conduct is included under the umbrella of burglary, burglary covers much, much more. All in all, there are three main points that make burglary unique: the trespass requirement, the intent requirement, and the theft or felony requirement.