The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola


47 DuPage Court, Elgin, IL 60120

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Posted on in Theft

shoplifting, Elgin criminal defense attorneyThe National Association for Shoplifting Prevention reports that over 10 million people have been caught shoplifting in the last five years. Even more surprising, they estimate that about one out of every 11 people in the U.S have shoplifted. Many people consider shoplifting to be "no big deal" or even see it as a rite of passage for young people. The truth is that retail theft is a crime, and depending on the circumstances, can result in serious criminal penalties.

What is Considered Shoplifting?

The most common example of shoplifting occurs when a person attempts to take merchandise from a store without paying for it. He or she may hide the items in a coat or bag while shopping and then attempt to leave the store without paying for those items. Often, a loss prevention officer (LPO), or an employee who is tasked with preventing shoplifting, confronts the person attempting to steal from the store.

Other tactics used by shoplifters include changing price tags on merchandise in order to pay a lesser price for an item, making fraudulent returns in order to receive cash or store credit, and keeping property after a lease has ended. Interestingly, store employees are also a big shoplifting risk. Sometimes a cashier will pretend to ring up a customer as usual but actually, they are not charging the customer for all of the merchandise he or she is leaving with.

Illinois Penalties for Shoplifting

If you are caught shoplifting and the police are called, the extent to which you are held criminally accountable will depend on the value of the goods stolen (or attempted to steal) as well as any prior criminal convictions. If the items cost $300 or less, you will probably be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. The penalties for this charge include fines up to $2,500 and up to one year of imprisonment. If you have prior convictions of theft or related crimes, stealing or attempting to steal items worth less than $300 can result in being charged with a Class 4 felony and being fined up to $25,000. You are also at risk of being imprisoned for one to three years.

Shoplifting property which is valued at more than $300 is a Class 3 felony and can result in fines up to $25,000 and between two and five years of imprisonment. If you use an emergency exit when leaving the store with stolen goods, that charge is increased to a Class 2 felony. The penalties for this include fines up to $25,000 and three to seven years’ imprisonment.

Criminal Defense Attorneys Who Will Fight for Your Freedom

If you have been charged with shoplifting, contact experienced Elgin, IL retail theft attorney Brian J. Mirandola for guidance with your case. Call 847-488-0889 for a free, confidential consultation today.


Last modified on

Posted on in Criminal Defense

hate crime, Illinois criminal defense attorney"Hate crime" is a phrase often used in the media and in casual conversation about certain types of criminal acts. Under state and federal law, "hate crime" has a specific meaning. Hate crimes are unique in that punishment for the crimes are enhanced specifically because of the criminal’s motives for committing the crime. How Illinois Defines "Hate Crime"

You commit a hate crime in Illinois if you commit a one of the specifically listed offenses because of "an actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin of a person or group". This means that you can commit a hate crime against a person even if you are mistaken about someone’s characteristics. It also means that not just any crime can be a hate crime. The crime must be one of the crimes listed in the law. For example, rape and murder are not listed as possible hate crimes in the Illinois statute.

The offenses that can be considered hate crimes include:

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Theft
  • Criminal trespass to a residence
  • Criminal trespass to real property
  • Mob action
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Harassment

Enhanced Penalties for Hate Crimes

The Illinois hate crime law increases the penalties for actions that are already criminalized. In almost all cases, a hate crime is a felony, even in cases where the "regular" crime is only a misdemeanor. This means that the maximum penalty for a hate crime could be up to thirty years in prison, depending on the facts of the case.

Defenses to Hate Crimes

If a prosecutor is going to charge a crime under the hate crime laws, he or she will have an extra burden at trial. The prosecutor will need to show a judge or jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed the crime, and that they also were motivated by the one of the conditions listed in the statute.

A criminal defense lawyer may try and show this the defendant could not have committed the underlying crime. However, in some instances, the evidence is overwhelming that the defendant did commit the crime. In those cases, the best defense may be to explain the motives of the defendant in committing the crime were something not addressed by the hate crime law. A good defense can create doubt in the minds of the jury about the motives of the defendant.

If you have been charged with an offense that could potentially be prosecuted as a hate crime, you need help right away. Contact an experienced Elgin criminal defense attorney today to schedule your free initial consultation.


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