Articles Tagged with chicago theft attorney

maique-madeira-256088-copy-300x200Retail theft in Chicago, Illinois is a serious topic. It should not be taken lightly because it can lead to severe penalties. However, with the help of a qualified retail theft lawyer, you can take a step forward to lessen or most likely even drop the charges against you.

What is Retail Theft?

Retail theft refers to the stealing of merchandise from a shop. Additionally, retail theft also includes the removing, altering, or changing of a price tag, label, or other such actions aimed toward robbing the retail value of the store’s property or merchandise. Under Illinois law, a retail theft is a felony or misdemeanor as per the criminal background of the defendant and the value of the items stolen. The retail theft can be expunged if some conditions are fulfilled.

chris-lawton-357168-copy-300x200For purposes of the law in Chicago, vehicular hijacking covers a range of vehicles, including boats. The key issues that arise when facing such a charge can be understood by looking at the example of a rather hapless Chicago teen who stole an SUV belonging to the FBI. There were several criminal matters arising out of that act that would all be considered during the trial.

First of all, the teenager was on probation and already had an extensive criminal record. The probation violations were dealt with as a separate issue but also one that could aggravate the crime despite the fact that the perpetrator  was a minor. His lawyers inevitably wanted to minimize evidence of his past crimes as much as allowable under the current law.

Compounding and Relevant Factors

esther-tuttle-280714-copy-300x200There are instances in which the crime of being in possession of a stolen motor vehicle is a carrier or access crime. You need a team of competent lawyers in order to avoid upgrading the charges unnecessarily. The car being the instrument for committing the crime or getting away from the crime, it is often a minor charge when compared with the principal charge of robbery or even homicide. The case of Jamie Thurnau and Jorge Chavez demonstrates the wide range of possible charges after the arrest. The actual charge sheet included the possession of a stolen car and also resisting arrest. Further charges of burglary, aggravated battery, and fleeing police were later added.

The fact that the offenders injured a law enforcement agent during the commission of the crime is an aggravating feature that will be considered by the court during the sentencing phase. A prior warrant of arrest was being executed when the pair drove off from a Walmart parking lot. The accumulation of charges brings into question the Mens Rea element of the criminal conduct. The acts of fleeing and even injuring the police may have occurred as described by the prosecutor, but it is an entirely different matter to prove that these acts were foreplanned with malice in mind. This is often the crux of the defense strategy. They may acknowledge the factual basis of the case but then dispute the motivations in order to throw doubt on the case.

Ranking Different Crimes that Occur at the Same Moment

clem-onojeghuo-173534-copy-300x205Shoplifting is classified under the theft statutes. The key provisions are contained in statutory instrument number 720 ILCS 5/16-1. It is at the lower end of the crimes of dishonesty but can still be prosecuted and lead to terms of imprisonment. Over the years, there have been many changes that were designed to reform the regime. For example, there are some new sophisticated techniques for shoplifting that may not have been covered by the original statutes in Chicago. That is why defense attorneys have to ensure that they are up to date with the latest versions of the law. This is one of the most prosecuted crimes not because of its seriousness but rather its frequency of occurrence. Shoplifting is an occupational hazard for marketplaces because there are always people who want to take things without paying for them.

Contrary to popular belief, this is not a crime that is consigned to the lower orders of society. Rather, it cuts across, and there have been instances of perfectly wealthy people who have been caught shoplifting. Sometimes, it is a case of temporary economic deprivation; other times, the defendant may be suffering from psychosocial problems such as kleptomania. It is imperative that the defense attorney explores all the possible explanations before the client is either found guilty or sentenced. The existence of a recognized condition might be a mitigating factor in such cases. It is also important to advise the client not to accept higher charges in order to avoid appearing in court because the resultant criminal record can become a hazard.

Protections for the Defendants

An unidentified person allegedly stole jewelry from inside a home during a Skokie estate sale last week. The case is interesting because it raises a number of different issues that the prosecution will need to overcome if an arrest is made and charges filed, as well as many possible defense strategies to explore.

Proving Skokie Theft CaseDSCF4929

At the outset, the prosecution faces an uphill battle in obtaining a positive identification of the alleged thief. In reference to the estate sale, individuals were no doubt going in and out of the home. Any forensic evidence found at the scene – such as fingerprints, clothing fibers, or other DNA evidence – cannot provide a smoking gun. Here, the suspect was “invited” into the home for purposes of the sale. Absent any forensic evidence tying the suspect to the scene, an eyewitness identification is strongly in doubt. With the family talking to dozens of people while trying to make sales, without any distinguishing characteristics on the suspect’s part, it will be difficult for eyewitnesses to testify with certainty that the suspect was present in the home.

Even if caught – for example, if a local pawn shop reports purchasing the stolen jewelry – it is difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect was the person who stole the jewelry. Without a positive identification or any forensic evidence tying him to the scene, there are any number of possible reasons the suspect could have come into possession of the jewelry. He could have purchased it from a different pawn shop, received it as a gift, or even found it discarded in a trash can or on the side of the road.

Skokie Defense of Theft

From the defense side, there are several issues to explore regarding the estate sale itself that could help cast doubt on the suspect’s guilt:

  • Was there a “free” table at the sale? If there was, it raises the possibility that another attendee, or even a family member, mistakenly laid the jewelry on that table, leading the suspect to believe it was free for the taking;
  • How many people were in charge of handling transactions? If there was more than one person handling sales, it is possible that the suspect actually paid for the item. Lack of communication between salespeople could cause the sale to not be properly recorded, thus leading to a misunderstanding that the item was stolen;
  • Do any of the people running the estate sale carry a criminal history of theft or similar crimes themselves? It is possible one of the salespeople simply pocketed the money from the sale and reported it as stolen to cover his tracks;
  • Is there animosity among the family members set to inherit the estate? Proceeds from the estate sale are deposited into the estate and used to pay estate bills before they are ultimately distributed to the heirs. If there was a disagreement amongst family members as to who should receive the allegedly stolen piece of jewelry, a decision of the majority of the heirs would win. A disgruntled family member who wanted the jewelry may have pocketed it and concocted the theft story to deflect blame.

Each of these scenarios would cast serious doubt on the defendant’s guilt, and are all avenues that David L. Freidberg would explore in working to get the charges dropped or the case dismissed.  Continue reading