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DuPage County criminal defense attorney retail theft

While the holiday season is usually a time of peace and joy, running into trouble with the law can cause difficulty for a person and his or her family during this time. Theft is an issue that can affect many people during the holidays, and it can take multiple different forms. Retail theft often increases during the holiday shopping season due to crowded stores. Package theft, in which items are stolen from a person’s porch or doorstep, is also likely to occur during the holidays, especially in 2020, when many people are shopping from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who have been accused of committing theft should be sure to understand the specific criminal charges that may apply, and they will want to secure legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help them determine how they can achieve a positive outcome to their case.

Criminal Theft Charges in Illinois

The penalties for a conviction on theft charges will depend on the circumstances of the theft and the value of the property that was allegedly stolen. Under Illinois law, a theft involving property that is not taken directly from a person is a Class A misdemeanor if the value of the goods is $500 or less. However, for goods valued between $500 and $10,000, this type of theft is charged as a Class 3 felony. 

When considering charges of package theft, the value of items that were allegedly stolen will often fall under $500, and a conviction can result in a prison sentence of up to one year and fines of up to $2,500. However, if a stolen package contained electronics or other goods worth more than $500, a conviction could result in a prison sentence of two to five years and fines up to $25,000.

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DuPage County criminal defense attorney juvenile theft

Being arrested and charged with a crime can be a frightening experience for anyone, but it can be especially worrisome for minors. Children who are still maturing may make mistakes without realizing the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, juvenile offenses can impact a child’s future, affecting his or her ability to find a job or pursue education. Juvenile theft is one of the most common charges that minors may face, and parents will want to understand the procedures that will be followed in juvenile courts and the potential consequences their child may face.

Juvenile Court Cases Involving Theft

Minors may be charged with multiple different types of theft. Charges related to shoplifting or retail theft are among the most common, but children may also be arrested on suspicion of offenses such as motor vehicle theft or theft of property. The severity of the charges will depend on the value of the property stolen. For example, retail theft of items valued at $300 or less is a Class A misdemeanor, but retail theft of property worth more than $300 is a Class 3 felony.

When minors are arrested on suspicion of theft, they will be taken into police custody. In some cases, officers will choose to release a child without charging him or her with a crime, or they may give a child a “station adjustment” in which he or she is released to the parent or guardian without being formally charged with a crime as long as he or she meets certain conditions, such as performing community service.

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DuPage County criminal defense attorney retail theft

It is not uncommon for someone to try to test the limits at least once in his or her life. For some individuals, this may involve stealing a low-priced item. Perhaps you put a candy bar in your pocket or slipped a cheap bottle of nail polish in your purse. Technically, you have committed a criminal offense, though the charges would be minor since the price of the item stolen is so low. The proper legal term for shoplifting is known as retail theft and there are actually a number of ways that this crime can be committed. Depending on the price of the item taken, the criminal charges can vary from a low-level misdemeanor to a serious felony in Illinois.

What Is Considered Retail Theft?

Illinois legislation names several different actions that all fall under the category of retail theft. Some of these descriptions are fairly obvious, while others you may not have known are considered theft at all. All of the following actions are considered retail theft and you can face criminal charges for knowingly doing any of the following:

  1. Taking possession of, carrying, or transferring merchandise, without paying the full price, in order to deprive the owner of the item.

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Wheaton shoplifting lawyer,  sweethearting, sweetheart shoplifting, theft, Illinois shopliftersShoplifting is an epidemic throughout our country. Some individuals convicted of the crime explain they only did it to feed their families, indicating a community failure to aid those in need of assistance. Others do it for the sheer thrill of the experience. No matter the reason, statistics show shoplifting is only caught once in 48 incidents. Despite these dismal numbers, management watches security cameras only 1 percent of the time, enabling a new rise in shoplifting by customers and employees alike. 

Sweetheart Shoplifting 

“Sweethearting” is the term coined for incidents where an alleged thief pays for some but not all of his or her items. This maneuver is completed solely by the shopper, or while working in conjunction with the cashier. The two most common situations include the following:

  • The shopper puts all but a few items on the conveyor belt for the cashier to scan, leaving one or two unnoticed items in the cart, thus walking out of the door without paying for those items; or
  • The cashier gives the customer a “sweetheart” of a deal by intentionally not scanning all of the merchandise, either by bypassing the scanner or covering the barcode.

How Big is the Problem?

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Wheaton criminal defense attorneyWhen someone is thought to be shoplifting, there are a variety of officials that may become involved. In a mall or retail store setting, the first-responders typically include store employees, store management, and any security officers retained by the establishment. After they have the suspicious person detained, the local police officers then become involved. Just as with police making an arrest, personnel must complete a series of actions before creating a case.

Before Detaining a Suspect

It is important to understand your rights if you are being detained by store personnel or a security officer for shoplifting. Often, these employees overstep their authority, typically either out of their ignorance of what they can do legally or because they are relying on your naiveté of the situation. If they detain a suspect without probable cause, they are opening themselves up for false arrest claims. Therefore, before apprehending anyone, they must:

  • See the item belonging to the store, not brought in from outside the location;
  • Watch that concealment occurs;
  • Never lose visual of the individual;
  • Witness failure to pay for the merchandise; and
  • Observe the citizen leaving the store.

Taking Custody of Suspect

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