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No More Mandatory Minimums for Retail Theft Crimes in Illinois

An 18-year-old girl was recently accepted into the University of Chicago with an athletic scholarship. She is a great student and dedicated to swimming. However, on a recent shopping trip to celebrate their upcoming graduation, her friends suggest it would be funny to steal a pair of wireless earPods from the Apple store. She goes along with them, and they all get caught by the store’s security guard. Now she is facing harsh penalties for the retail theft that could put her future in jeopardy.

What Constitutes Retail Theft in Illinois?

Shoplifting is a serious crime in Illinois. That said, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has said that she will not prosecute retail theft crimes if the goods stolen are worth less than $1000. Illinois has some of the harshest laws for stealing from a retail store for amounts over that, however. Anyone charged with retail theft for the first time will probably be surprised at how easy it is for prosecutors to charge them with a felony. The crime of retail theft involves the following:

  • Knowingly taking possession of, carrying away, or transferring
  • Any merchandise displayed, held, stored, or offered for sale in a retail mercantile establishment
  • With the intent of retaining the merchandise or depriving the merchant permanently of it
  • Without paying the full retail value

There are various other types of retail theft, as well. These acts include changing price tags, under-ringing, making a false return, using a jamming device, and keeping property after the lease expires.

Illinois Has Harsh Penalties for Retail Theft

The penalty for retail theft depends on the dollar amount of the goods taken from the retail location. When the stolen goods are valued at over $1,000, the defendant faces Class 4 felony charges. Class 4 felony charges carry a sentence of one to three years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

When the defendant has a prior conviction of retail theft or another theft-related offense, prosecutors will automatically charge him or her with a Class 4 felony. Illinois’ recent criminal justice reform law allows a judge to reject mandatory minimum sentencing for retail theft crimes under certain conditions. Instead of imposing a mandatory minimum jail sentence, the court can sentence the offender to probation or conditional discharge. The court can choose to sentence the defendant to a lesser term of imprisonment as long as it is appropriate and in the interest of justice.

Contact an Illinois Defense Lawyer Today

Have you been charged with retail theft? If so, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. At Glasgow & Olsson, our award-winning criminal defense lawyers have a proven track record of success in many high-profile state and federal criminal cases. Contact Glasgow & Olsson today to schedule your initial consultation to learn how our legal team can fight for your rights.

Illinois’ Police Reform Law Changes the Definition of a “Habitual Criminal”

Illinois recently passed one of the most significant criminal justice reform laws in the country. The law, which is nearly 764 pages long, revamps the entire Illinois pre-trial system. This comprehensive reform law is a combination of three different bills that have been pending since 2019. The law changes nearly every aspect of the criminal justice system, from pretrial detention and sentencing to police accountability. The law also redefines what it means to be a “habitual criminal.”

How Does the New Law Change the Definition of a “Habitual Criminal”?

Under Illinois law, repeat criminal offenders are given a more severe punishment if they have had previous criminal convictions and are considered a “habitual criminal.” Illinois’ new criminal justice reform law has amended Illinois law to change the definition of a habitual criminal. Under the new law, a defendant can only be considered a habitual criminal when his or her first offense was committed when he or she was 21 years of age or older. Legislators who favored the change wanted to acknowledge that committing a crime as a 19-year-old is different from committing a crime as a 30-year-old.

Class X Felony Charges

A Class X felony is among the most serious types of felony offenses in Illinois. When an Illinois court convicts a defendant of a Class X felony, the defendant cannot receive a probation sentence. Instead, the judge must sentence the defendant to a minimum of six years in jail. The defendant must meet certain requirements to be tried for a Class X felony. Until recently, the prosecution would need to prove that the defendant had been previously convicted of any forcible felony, unlawful use of a weapon, or possession of a controlled substance.

The new law also adds the word “forcible” to provisions related to charging defendants as Class X offenders, restricting who can be considered a Class X offender. Previously, a defendant convicted of Class 1 or 2 felonies after two convictions of Class 1 or 2 felony would be considered a habitual criminal. Now, procurers must demonstrate that the defendant committed “forcible” felonies to classify them as a Class X offender. As a result, under Illinois habitual criminal statute, the defendant must be sentenced as a Class X offender when:

  • The defendant is over the age of 21 years
  • The defendant is convicted of Class 1 or 2 forcible felony
  • After two prior convictions of Class 1 or Class 2 forcible felony

When a defendant can avoid being classified as a Class X felony, he or she has a better chance of securing probation instead of jail time. The punishment for a Class X felony is typically a mandatory sentence of three to 60 years in prison with additional penalties and fines.

Contact a Cook County Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

At Glasgow & Olsson, our award-winning criminal defense lawyers have a proven track record of success in many high-profile state and federal criminal cases. You can see defense attorney Thomas Glasgow on local Chicago news when he fought to get a former police officer’s conviction vacated. Contact Glasgow & Olsson today to schedule your initial consultation to learn how our legal team can fight for your rights.

A New Bill Would End Police Officers’ Qualified Immunity in Illinois

In February, Governor Pritzker signed a police reform bill that ended cash bail and significantly reformed Illinois’ criminal justice system. Now, a bill that would end qualified immunity for Illinois police officers is making its way through the House of Representatives. The bill, called the Bad Apples in Law Enforcement Accountability Act of 2021, would allow citizens to sue police officers for depriving “any individual rights guaranteed under the Illinois constitution.” Officers who fail to intervene on behalf of citizens who are being abused can also face civil liability.

How Would This New Law Affect Police Officers?

The past two years have been challenging for police officers across the country. Some groups are calling for police departments to be defunded, and Illinois just increased the penalties for police brutality. The law discussed above would make it easier for victims of alleged police brutality to bring a civil lawsuit against an individual police officer for damages.

Facing Criminal Charges as a Police Officer

If passed, this law will allow victims of police brutality to sue police officers. However, police officers can also face criminal charges for not adhering to Illinois’ new police reforms. If the Bad Apples in Law Enforcement Accountability Act of 2021 passes, it would be possible for a police officer to face a civil lawsuit for monetary damages for engaging in police brutality.

The Illinois Police Reform Bill was signed into law on February 22nd, 2021. The law holds police officers to a higher standard when it comes to arresting suspects. Now, police officers can face penalties if they fail to provide facts regarding incidents that the officers are investigating or withhold knowledge of another police officer’s misrepresentation. When police officers fail to comply with their department's policy or Illinois state law, they violate the new law, as well. These crimes are prosecuted as class 3 felonies.

Additionally, it is much harder for police officers to justify using deadly force under the new law. They must meet multiple conditions to use deadly force. Without all four elements, police officers will not be justified using deadly force and can face criminal charges if they do so. Police officers also have a duty to render aid.

Because police brutality is in the national and local spotlight, local prosecutors take the police reform law seriously. If you have been charged with violating Illinois police reform law, you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible.

Are You a Police Officer Facing Criminal Charges? We Can Help

At Glasgow & Olsson, our award-winning criminal defense lawyers have a proven track record of success in many high-profile state and federal criminal cases. You can see defense attorney Thomas Glasgow on local Chicago news when he fought to get a former police officer’s conviction vacated. Contact Glasgow & Olsson today to schedule your initial consultation to learn how our legal team can fight for your rights.