Many people don’t stop to think about the potential legal ramifications of taking a shortcut through someone’s property or going urban exploring at an abandoned site. However, you and other Illinois residents may want to consider the fact that you could face criminal charges for trespassing, no matter how innocent your intentions were.
According to FindLaw, trespassing is usually considered a misdemeanor offense in Illinois, although the situation can determine the severity of the charge you face. Criminal trespass involves entering property without permission on a property owner’s land, in a residence or building or in someone else’s vehicle. Trespassing usually applies to entering the property while knowing you are not permitted there, or not leaving after being ordered to do so. When the trespass involves land or a building, posted signs and other evidence that you are not allowed to be there without permission can also apply. If you enter a residence without permission when people are there or you had reason to believe others would be present, you can face a felony charge. Additional charges may occur if theft, vandalism or injuries were involved with the trespassing.
Trespassing can be a complicated area of defense. You may have mistakenly thought you had consent to go on the property, or you could have unwittingly trespassed out of necessity – for example, you went onto private property because you heard someone calling for help. Or, you might not have realized that the property was private, such as taking a walk through a forested area that you thought was a public park. Therefore, this information should not serve as legal advice.