Theft/ Burglary / Robbery Defense

When a person takes something from another person without permission or the intent of returning it, that person can be charged with theft. Theft charges can take on many forms, including shoplifting, forgery, burglary and robbery. Theft can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances and the value of the property that is involved.

While cases may differ, one thing they all have in common is that a defendant can face serious jail time and be impacted for the rest of their life if they are convicted of theft. That’s why it is imperative to contact me as soon as you come under investigation related to any type of theft crime or you are charged with an actual crime. One of the keys to proving your innocence or negotiating a reduction to a lesser charge is not to make mistakes early on because those mistakes can be used against you later on. As an experienced attorney, I can shield you and protect your rights to due process and give you the best outcome possible.

Theft in all amounts

Theft cases are charged in a variety of ways, and the specific charge you face will be directly related to how law enforcement officials view the details of the case and how much value is related to the alleged theft. In some instances, you can be charged with a misdemeanor if the value involved is less than $500. However, the charges can be upgraded to a felony if one or more of several factors are present.

You can face Class 4 felony charges if the property in question was taken from a government facility, a church or a school and if it is not valued at more than $500. It is a Class 3 felony if a person steals property that is valued at more than $500 but less than $10,000. If the property is taken from a retail store, then the value only needs to be $300 or more to be a Class 3 felony. In addition, if a person pick-pockets another, that is also considered a Class 3 felony. Class 2 felonies involve property amounts of at least $10,000 but not more than $100,000. Stealing property from a government facility, school or church valued between $500 and $10,000 is also considered a Class 2 felony.

Conviction of a theft felony carries penalties ranging from one to seven years in prison, fines of up to $25,000 and repayment of the losses from the theft.

Retail Theft

Retail theft, or shoplifting as it is often known, is a crime that happens quite often. In Illinois, it carries a unique set of penalties for those who are convicted and is based on the dollar amount involved and the severity of the crime.

For example, shoplifting with a value of under $300 is a Class A misdemeanor but can still result in fines of up to $2,500 and up to one year in jail. If the total value is $300 or less, but the defendant has previous theft-related convictions, the charge may be upgraded to a Class 4 felony which carries a prison sentence of up to three years and fines of up to $25,000. Shoplifting with a combined value of more than $300 in a single or multiple transactions is a Class 3 felony and carries a prison sentence of up to three years and fines of up to $25,000.

But there is more to shoplifting than just prison time and fines. In Illinois, retailers can file a civil suit against an offender to recover damages up to the full retail value of the merchandise in question, plus attorney’s fees and court costs. In cases where the shoplifter is a minor, a parent or guardian may be held liable.

As an attorney experienced in retail theft defense cases, I have been successful in working with courts to find alternative forms of sentencing other than prison and fines for my clients. This may include court supervision, which is a sentence of good behavior that can negate a conviction if terms of the supervision are met. In other cases, I may be able to negotiate deferred prosecution which allows the defendant to complete a theft-deterrent program in exchange for a dismissal of the charges. Another alternative may be negotiating the completion of a certain number of community service hours in exchange for charges being dropped.

Forgery

Forgery is known as a deception-related crime and can involve any number instruments that allow a person to defraud someone for the purpose of financial gain or to cause financial loss to another person.

Some examples of forgery include writing bad checks, using stolen credit cards, impersonating someone else, using another person’s signature or digital signature, or using another person’s signature device, such as a PIN number) to create a false electronic signature.

Most forgery cases in Illinois are considered Class 3 felonies, punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison and a fine of $25,000. In some instances, when only a universal price code label is involved, the charge may drop to a Class 4 felony which results in a lesser prison term of 1 to 3 years.

Many people may not be aware, but forging an academic degree is also a crime and can be charged as a misdemeanor, but which can still result in a prison sentence and a fine if convicted.

Although many people have signed a document for another person at some point in their lives, what separates that act from forgery is the intent, which a prosecutor must prove exists in order to achieve a forgery conviction.

Burglary

According to Illinois law, a burglary takes place when a person enters another person’s building, car, boat or any related structure without permission for the purpose of committing theft or another felony. Often times, this entry is related to theft, but a burglary charge can also result if the person who breaks in commits assault, a sex crime, or engages in a variety of other criminal activities.

Burglary charges are considered Class 2 felonies, but if a burglary is committed in a certain facility, that can be raised to a Class 1 felony, carrying a much stiffer penalty. Some of these places include schools, day care centers, and places of worship, among others.

When a person enters another person’s home and they know that the owner is present, a burglary charge can quickly change to a more serious home invasion charge instead. This is not considered a crime based on theft, but on other possible criminal activities.

In some instances, I can negotiate these types of felony charges down to less onerous misdemeanor charges, but this will depend on the facts of your case.

Residential Burglary

Residential burglary is considered a Class 1 felony in Illinois. It is punishable by up to 15 years in prison upon conviction. Because it is non-probationable, meaning that a conviction carries a mandatory prison sentence instead of just probation, a charge of this kind should be taken very seriously.

Residential burglary is defined as a person entering another person’s home without permission with the intent to commit a felony, which many times is theft. Residential burglary charges may also be filed if a person falsely presents themselves as a representative of a government, utilities or a telecommunications company for the purpose of gaining entry into another person’s home.

A person caught with tools of the burglary trade may also face a Class 4 felony charge and up to three years in prison. Burglary tools are defined as any key, tool, instrument, explosive or device that is suitable for breaking into a building, house trailer, watercraft, aircraft or motor vehicle.

While residential burglary charges are serious, the good news is that many of them are resolved through a plea bargain. I can help you determine if this is a good solution for your case, or if we need to explore other options that could perhaps avoid a sentence completely. Often times, I am able to help a first time offender avoid jail and a felony conviction.

Robbery

The main difference between burglary and robbery is that burglary involves entering a structure or dwelling for the purpose of stealing something, while robbery is taking something from a person by using force or the threat of force. This also applies to property that is under the control of a person that you rob, such as taking money from a cash register at a store.

Robbery can oftentimes be a violent crime, but to be charged with robbery a person does not need to inflict an injury on another person. A robbery charge can also be applied if a person takes another’s property using only the threat of violence.

The most serious forms of robbery include carjackings, home invasion robberies, robberies committed against certain classes of people, or robberies involving a weapon or when deadly force is used. Sentencing for these types of crimes carries stiff penalties, and it is not uncommon to see clients facing prison terms of 20 or more years for the most violent forms of robberies.

Any form of robbery can be a life-changing event, and it is imperative to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Understanding the legal process and what options are available depending on the charges you are facing is critical to obtaining the best possible outcome for your case.

Armed Robbery

Armed robbery is a Class X felony and carries a mandatory prison sentence of 6 to 30 years in prison upon conviction.

Armed robbery takes place when a person carries a gun or another dangerous weapon while committing a robbery. It is important to note that the weapon does not need to be a gun. It can be a knife, a baseball bat or any similar item that can be used in a threatening manner to complete the crime.

Mounting a legal defense against a charge of armed robbery can be a complicated task that requires extensive knowledge and experience related to statutes and case law. There are many possible scenarios and defenses that can be employed, but the one that will ultimately be used will depend on the individual facts of a case.

Additionally, from my many years of dealing with the court system in Cook County, I can use my familiarity of the local courts, and local prosecutors to gain any and every advantage for my clients, with the goal of getting a case dismissed, charges reduced or working through a plea bargain to minimize the impacts of sentencing on my clients.