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shoplifting, Lake County criminal defense attorneyShoplifting is one of the most common crimes in the country, but it can have effects that are far-reaching to businesses, lawmakers, and to society as a whole. The crime is so common, in fact, that there is a National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, working to both reduce the number of shoplifting incidents in the United States and to discourage would-be shoplifters from committing such crimes. More than 10 million individuals have been arrested or accused of shoplifting in the last half decade, and current estimates suggest that 1 in every 11 people in the United States have shoplifted at one time or another.

Common Misconceptions

Because it is frequently a minor misdemeanor crime, shoplifting is often considered alongside crimes committed by juveniles, which are often offenses that do not, and cannot, affect one’s permanent record. Yet, the effects of shoplifting do, in fact, stay on a person’s record for a long time and can effect a person’s ability to find work—perpetuating an ugly cycle that, in many instances, led to the incident in the first place.

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shoplifting, retail theft, Lake County criminal defense attorneyWhile shoplifting may seem to be a rather victimless crime—the offense affects a corporation, rather than the livelihood of an immediate person—shoplifting is in fact a crime that affects us all, from law enforcement to retail managers to the legal system. Dealing with small or misdemeanor crimes such as retail theft costs money and time for communities from the ground up. And with more than 27 million shoplifters nationwide (that comes down to about one in every 11 people across the country), it is no small problem.

Surprising Statistics

Contrary to popular opinion, adults actually shoplift more than kids: three-quarters of all shoplifters are adults at the time of the alleged incident, though more than half of these admit to having begun shoplifting in their teenage years. Methods for shoplifting vary, but it is common that a person would buy something at the same time that he or she shoplifts, which some researchers say is thought to be a “cover” for these thieves. The crime is difficult to pinpoint, however, in part because the vast majority of these incidents are not pre-meditated; 73 percent of adult and 72 percent of young shoplifters report that they did not plan to steal in advance.

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search warrant, illegal search, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneyThe Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable search and seizures of their property by law enforcement. In most cases, police are required to obtain a warrant before they are allowed to search. However, the amendment does not guarantee against all search and seizures without a warrant. There are situations where the courts will allow evidence obtained without a warrant to be admitted.

Exceptions to a warrantless search of a person’s home are as follows:

  • The police have been given permission to search;
  • The person has already been arrested, and the house has been deemed in the person’s control. This is legally referred to as “search incident to arrest (SITA)”;
  • The evidence is in plain sight; and
  • The police officer feels there is probable cause to search. The legal definition and standard used for probable cause is “a reasonable amount of suspicion, supported by circumstances sufficiently strong to justify a prudent and cautious person's belief that certain facts are probably true.”

Exceptions to a warrantless search of a person’s vehicle include:

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hate crime charges in Illinois, Rolling Meadows criminal attorney"This is my damn block!" Along with a string of other expletives, these were the last words that a 24-year-old woman heard when she was walking home with her friend on a warm summer night in 2013.

Immediately thereafter, a young man and about ten other people savagely beat the two women. The 24-year-old woman suffered a broken rib along with serious cuts and abrasions. Last month, the lead attacker pleaded guilty to two counts each of hate crimes charges and aggravated burglary. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

Local authorities aggressively prosecute hate crimes. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office has taken 44 people to court under the hate crimes statute since 2011.

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Tagged in: hate crime charges

For years, law enforcement has been able to access prescription drug databases to see if a person suspected of criminal activity is using any controlled substances. Defense attorneys have argued that these database inquiries by law enforcement amount to warrantless searches and violate the privacy rights of the individual.

However, there appears to be a shift in attitude of some courts, as well as lawmakers, to restrict what law enforcement can and cannot access without a warrant.

All but two states in the country, Nebraska and Missouri, have prescription drug databases for oxycodone and other strong narcotics. Seventeen of those states require police to obtain a warrant before they are able to search the databases. The other states – except Vermont – allow police to search without warrants, as long as there is an active investigation taking place. The Vermont system, however, is closed completely to law enforcement.

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