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Lombard Criminal Defense LawyerWhile most people recognize that shoplifting is wrong, there is a common perception that it is a fairly minor criminal offense with few serious consequences. However, according to Illinois law, shoplifting or retail theft can sometimes be charged as a felony, with penalties that can be quite serious. If you are facing theft charges, it is important to understand how severe they may be and to work with an experienced attorney who can help you build a strong defense.

When is Retail Theft a Felony?

The Illinois Criminal Code defines the severity of theft offenses in large part based on the value of the property stolen. Most shoplifting or retail theft offenses involve property worth less than $300, and as such, they are charged as Class A misdemeanors. Even this is a serious offense that could result in a sentence of imprisonment for less than one year.

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Lombard Criminal Defense LawyerBeing accused of a criminal offense can be a shocking experience. For many criminal defendants, the moments during and after an arrest are a blur. Unfortunately, many criminal defendants hurt their cases by making statements to police officers that are later used against them. Most people know that they have a “right to remain silent” during a police interaction but few realize just how profound this right actually is.  

Avoiding Self Incrimination

Whether you have been arrested before or you simply enjoy police procedural television shows, you have probably heard the statement, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do may be used against you in court.” The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the foundation of our right to remain silent. The Fifth Amendment states that criminal defendants cannot be compelled, or forced, to testify against themselves. In other words, they have a right against self-incrimination.

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Criminal Defense attorney DuPage CountyIn the state of Illinois, retail theft is committed when an individual knowingly takes an item from a retail establishment without proper payment or authorization. While there are many different types of retail theft, shoplifting is arguably the most common. In any scenario involving retail theft, the evidence surrounding the case could be your best defense. If you have been detained by a store employee who has accused you of retail theft, it is imperative to seek the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Merchant Detention

According to section 720 ILCS 5/16-26, any merchant with a reasonable belief that an individual has committed retail theft may apprehend the suspected person. The detention may take place on or off the property of the retail establishment and must be in a reasonable manner and length of time. It is important to note that detention may only take place off of the retail establishment if there is an immediate pursuit of the suspected individual. A merchant may detain a suspected shoplifter for the following reasons:

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IL defense lawyerLeaving the scene of an accident is a serious crime, and Illinois prosecutors might not take kindly to your argument that you were too confused or shaken to stop. Even if the accident only caused property damage, you might face a criminal charge under Illinois statutes. Please contact a criminal defense lawyer in DuPage County for help with your defense.

What the Law Says about Stopping

Several laws lay out a driver’s obligations after an accident. Collectively, they require the following:

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IL defense lawyerEvery criminal case turns on evidence. Without it, the state cannot secure a conviction for even the lowest-level crimes, and defendants can walk free. Sometimes evidence is contradictory, and it is up to the judge or jury to decide who is telling the truth or what evidence is most believable. At Aldrich & Siedlarz Law, P.C., our team will aggressively review all evidence found by the state and go even further, looking for exculpatory evidence to clear your name of a retail theft charge. Our team includes a Polish-speaking attorney, so please do not delay contacting us.

Your Own Statements Are Evidence

Many people convict themselves out of their own mouths soon after being stopped on suspicion of theft. Some people immediately admit they took goods, while others will come up with a story that is simply not believable. Ideally, anyone stopped on suspicion of retail theft will immediately stay quiet. There is no reason to talk to store personnel or the police, and you have a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Instead, ask for a lawyer.

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