Category Archives: Theft

St. Charles robbery burglary defense attorneyContext is important in almost any situation. A word or phrase that is used interchangeably in everyday conversation cannot necessarily be used in the same way in the legal system. One such example of this is the use of the words theft, robbery, and burglary. Though many people use these terms to mean the same thing during personal conversations, these refer to separate criminal charges when used in legal situations. There are specific differences between the three crimes, and they each come with their own punishments. This is why it is important to know the differences if you have been charged with any of these crimes. 

Theft

According to the Illinois Criminal Code, a person commits theft when he or she:

  • Obtains unauthorized control over property; or
  • Uses threat or deception to obtain control over property; or
  • Obtains control over property, knowing the property was stolen; and
  • Intends to permanently deprive the owner of the use or benefit of the property

Sentencing for a theft charge depends on the situation surrounding the theft, how much the stolen property was worth, and whether or not the property was taken directly from a person. Charges can range from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class X felony.

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St. Charles package theft defense lawyerTaking packages from doorsteps or porches may seem like a somewhat harmless, or “soft,” crime to commit, but the consequences of such theft are serious. After all, one may think that the recipient of the package could easily blame the company for not shipping the item, or FedEx, USPS, UPS, or another carrier for losing the box along the route, and then simply have another item delivered at no cost to them. However, package theft is a serious crime, and anyone who has been connected to a single theft or a string of package thefts in a community needs to understand the predicament that they are in. If you have been charged or accused of package theft, you should contact a Naperville criminal defense lawyer immediately, even if you know that the allegations are a complete mistake. 

The Rise in Package Theft has Increased Law Enforcement Vigilance

One in five homeowners has been the victim of package theft in the last 12 months alone, losing an average of $140 in products. Law enforcement officials and prosecutors are cracking down on offenders with increasing vigor, particularly during the holiday season when package delivery skyrockets. Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve is the busiest time for the post office, which ships a total of 16 billion items during that time period, including 750 million packages. UPS ships at least 750 million packages as well during the holiday season. These numbers do not include other shipping giants such as FedEx. 

Mail Theft

An even more serious offense than traditional theft is mail theft, which is a federal crime under 18 U.S. Code § 1708. A mail theft charge, regardless of the price of the property taken, carries up to a five year prison sentence for each offense, and federal prosecutors usually aim for the maximum sentence possible.

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Geneva shoplifting defense attorneyShoplifting, the act of stealing from a retailer, is also known as retail theft. Like many other offenses, shoplifting is a serious criminal charge. Although the penalties for a shoplifting conviction are often not as steep as they are for other theft convictions, it is always worth your time to fight a shoplifting charge, because being convicted of shoplifting will subject you to certain civil and criminal penalties. In addition, a conviction on your criminal record can impact the potential penalties for any future charges that you may face. 

If you are facing a shoplifting charge, you should start working on your legal defense strategy with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The defense strategy you create will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. Below are a few potential strategies you may be able to use when you are facing a shoplifting charge:

It Was an Innocent Mistake

People make mistakes. You might accidentally walk out of a store without paying for an item because you were distracted or because the item was nestled among other items you paid for. Your defense strategy could involve demonstrating that you did not intentionally take an item without paying for it, or at least showing that there is not enough evidence to show you intentionally stole the item.

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St. Charles retail theft defense lawyerYou might think that only law enforcement has the right to detain individuals suspected of criminal acts. This is actually untrue. Shopkeeper’s privilege is a store owner’s legal right to detain you for a reasonable amount of time, question you, and call law enforcement to potentially make an arrest if he or she suspects that you have committed a criminal offense, such as shoplifting, in the store. 

Although a store owner or employee may detain and question you in this situation, they do not have the same authority as law enforcement. When you are held for longer than is appropriate for the situation, you may have grounds for a false imprisonment claim against the store owner.

When Can a Shopkeeper or Security Guard Detain Me?

You may only be legally detained in a store when the following circumstances occur:

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Naperville criminal defense lawyer, shoplifting, criminal defense strategy, stealing merchandise, misdemeanorShoplifting is a form of theft. Like other forms of theft, such as identity theft and fraud, many different actions constitute an act of shoplifting. In its most basic sense, shoplifting is the act of stealing merchandise from a retailer. Stealing money from a retailer is not an act of shoplifting, though stealing merchandise is a roundabout way of stealing money. Breaking into a store to steal from a cash register or forcing a cashier to hand over cash under threat of violence are burglary and robbery, respectively.

Below are four different ways an individual can commit the offense of shoplifting. In Illinois, shoplifting can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the item allegedly stolen.

Concealing Items in Clothing or a Purse

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