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Chicago Theft Defense Lawyer
Theft charges apply to a wide range of conduct. In simplest terms, a theft charge alleges that the defendant unlawfully took property that belongs to another. Theft is generally a felony if the value is over $500, or when there are aggravating factors, such as in a robbery. Large-scale theft offenses usually result in fraud charges and involve other cybercrimes. Common Illinois theft charges include identity theft and retail theft. Illinois' theft statute is listed under 720 ILCS 5/16-1.
Identity theft is the unlawful use of another's identity to obtain goods or services, or the sale of another's identifying information with knowledge that the information is stolen. In Illinois, identity theft is a felony that is punishable by 1-30 years in prison, depending on the extent of the theft. Illinois' identity theft statute is listed under 720 ILCS 5/16G-15.
Retail Theft Charges
In Illinois, retail theft – also known as shoplifting – is a felony if the retail value of the merchandise is over $300. Although theft of merchandise under $300 is normally a misdemeanor, it may become a felony, depending on the allegations and the defendant's criminal record. Illinois' retail theft statute is listed under 720 ILCS 5/16-25.
Alternatives to Incarceration
A sentence of incarceration may be avoided depending on the value of the property taken. Possible alternatives to incarceration include a sentence of probation, paying restitution and fines, completing significant amounts of community service, and receiving treatment for underlying issues where appropriate.
What You Should Do
- Be respectful.
- Calmly record the interaction.
- Ask if you are free to leave. If you do not ask, the officer may think - and the judge may agree - that the interaction is consensual.
- If you are free to leave, go! If you are not free to leave, do not answer and questions before speaking with your attorney.
What You Should Not Do
- Do not physically resist arrest.
- Do not become aggressive or confrontational.
- Do not consent to a search. The Constitution does not apply if you consent.
- Do not answer questions without first speaking with your attorney. Police are allowed to hold you for 48 hours and they may lie to you the entire time.