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Rolling Meadows Theft Defense Lawyer

Rolling Meadows Theft Larceny Fraud Defense Attorney

Criminal Theft Defense Attorney Serving Cook County and DuPage County

The crime of theft, as defined by Illinois law, encompasses a variety of offenses ranging from pickpocketing, to scams against the elderly, to the stealing of large amounts of cash, expensive electronics, or other goods.

Because theft does not involve physical trespassing or physical force, the crime may seem relatively minor. In fact, most cases of theft are felony charges that can cost you a year or more in jail. In addition, a felony charge will show up on a background check for years or sometimes forever and can prevent you from getting a good job, loans, or housing.

If you have been charged with theft, do not face the criminal justice system alone. You need an attorney who can argue intelligently and decisively to protect your rights and freedom. At Hartsfield Law, you will find a seasoned criminal defense attorney ready to handle any type of theft case; an attorney who will be at your side from start to finish, providing sound counsel. No matter what evidence the State has, there are many legal ways to counter their claims. We will work diligently to secure the best possible outcome for you.

Definition and Types of Theft Crimes in Illinois

Under Illinois law (720 ILCS 5/16-1), theft crimes are defined as an unauthorized taking of property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of it. In other words, theft is stealing, not borrowing. The theft statute encompasses several types of actions:

  • Theft of property: This includes theft directly from a person's body, such as pickpocketing or purse-snatching, that occur without the threat or use of force. If force is involved, the crime is termed robbery. It also includes thefts "not from the person," such as theft from a public space, your employer's office, or from a home to which you were invited. If the theft involves trespassing into a building or vehicle with the intent to steal or commit a felony, that is the crime of burglary. If the theft is specifically from a retail store, that is termed retail theft.
  • Theft by deception: This crime requires an intent to deceive the victim. One example of threat by deception involves posing as a representative of a landlord and collecting rent from tenants. Another example is running a home repair scam where money is taken from a homeowner with no intent to complete the work properly.
  • Theft by threat: This crime involves a threat to the victim; however, rather than a threat to use physical force against the victim, the offense involves a form of blackmail or extortion.
  • Possession of stolen property: This means knowingly taking possession of stolen property. It is treated the same as if you yourself had stolen the property from its true owner; the penalties are the same, based on the value of the property involved.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony Theft Crimes and Penalties in Illinois

Under Illinois law, the penalties for theft crimes primarily depend on the value of what was taken. Penalties are stiffer when aggravating factors are involved, such as taking property directly from the body of the victim ("from the person") and whether deception or fraud was involved.

Theft offenses are classified as follows. Note, however, that the classification goes up one level if the theft was of governmental property or if the theft was committed in a school or place of worship.

  • Theft of $500 or less:
    • Not from the person (petty theft) - Class A misdemeanor, rising to a Class 4 felony if the offender has a prior conviction for theft or a related crime such as robbery or burglary.
    • From the person - Class 3 felony.
  • Thefts over $500, not covered elsewhere:
    • $501 to $10,000 - Class 3 felony.
    • $10,001 to $100,000 - Class 2 felony.
    • $100,001 to $1 million - Class 1 felony.
    • Over $1 million - Class X felony.
  • Theft by deception, defrauding a victim age 60 or older of $5,000 or more: Class 2 felony.
  • Theft by deception, posing as a landlord to collect money from tenants: $500 or less is a Class 3 felony. $501 to $10,000 is a Class 2 felony. $10,001 to $100,000 is a Class 1 felony. Over $100,000 is a Class X felony.
  • Electronic fencing (knowingly selling stolen property using the internet): Value of $300 or less is a Class 4 felony. Over $300 is a Class 2 felony. (720 ILCS 5/16-40)

The maximum punishment for a Class A misdemeanor is up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $2,500. A felony theft is punishable by one to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. However, a sentence of probation-only is possible for theft crimes where the value stolen does not exceed $500,000. You may even be eligible for Second Chance Probation which, similar to court supervision, means the offense can ultimately be cleared from your record. A skillful attorney can make a strong case for a positive disposition of your case.

Call a Rolling Meadows Lawyer Experienced in Theft Defense

The penalties for theft, particularly those involving deception or other aggravating factors, can be harsh. If you have been charged with petty or felony theft in Cook County or DuPage County, contact a Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. A skillful theft defense lawyer will conduct a detailed investigation of your case, ensure that your civil rights are not violated, and work to minimize the charges and penalties. For a free consultation in our Rolling Meadows, Oakbrook Terrace, or Chicago office, call Hartsfield Law at 312-345-1700.

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