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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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ignition interlock, summary suspension, Lake County criminal defense attorneyDrunk driving may, in some ways, be a relic of the past—it is not common for a person to get behind the wheel of car when he or she has been drinking and to not recognize that what he or she is doing is illegal and dangerous. Awareness about the danger and irresponsibility of drunk driving has steadily increased since the early 1990s when states began to launch serious campaigns to deter drunk drivers and police forces around the country cracked down on drunk driving offenses. Yet the problem has not, to any real extent, been eradicated, and in fact, numbers tend to fluctuate from year to year. In 2012, for example, there was a significant increase in the number of fatalities resulting from drunk driving, that after 2011 when the death toll fell below 10,000 for the first time.

That year saw a 3.3 percent increase in fatalities, causing some activists to call for ignition interlock devices to be installed in the car of every convicted drunk driver across the country. In Illinois, a person convicted of drunk driving may apply, during the period of statutory summary suspension of his or her driving privileges, for driving relief, and choose to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) installed in his or her vehicle. If a person convicted of drunk driving chooses to have the BAIID installed in his vehicle during that period of license suspension, there are no other stipulations regarding his driving rights—he is allowed to travel, even interstate, providing that the BAIID is installed.

Not all convicted drunk drivers are required to install the BAIID, however. A person may opt to adhere to the mandatory suspension period. Yet if the person is then caught driving the vehicle, whether or not he has been drinking, he is guilty of a Class 4 felony. Punishment, if you are a convicted drunk driver and caught driving without an ignition interlock device during the license suspension period, includes possible imprisonment of 1–3 years, a minimum of 30 days in jail or 300 hours of community service, and fines as high as $25,000.

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medical marijuana, Illinois law, Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyerA few months ago, a post on this blog discussed a bill that had been sent to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner that would have extended the state’s medical marijuana program. At the time, the governor had given no indication as to which way he would decide, but in the weeks and months since, his decision has left proponents of measure unsatisfied.

Hopeful Progress

Despite taking effect in January of 2014, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act still has yet to provide a single patient with legally grown and distributed medical marijuana. It has now been nearly two years and only the registration process is fully underway. In the last few weeks, cultivation centers have announced that harvesting of the first legal crops has begun, and that medical marijuana products should be reaching dispensary shelves soon. Meanwhile, some 3,000 qualified, registered patients continue to wait.

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Posted on in Juvenile crime

fake ID, underage drinking, Cook County Criminal Defense LawyerAs the new school year gets underway, many students are experiencing a whole new world of opportunity. Incoming college freshmen, in particular, may be enjoying a sense of freedom that they have never felt before. Many students will use this newfound independence to develop an identity as an adult and to practice self-discipline. For others, however, this means underage drinking and the use of fake IDs to buy alcohol or to get into bars and clubs. While they may seem like rites of passage for college students, both are against the law, and can lead to serious consequences and criminal penalties.

Several Applicable Laws

In Illinois, there are a number of statutes that expressly address the use of a falsified identification card or driver’s license. The Illinois Vehicle Code, the Illinois Identification Card Act, and the Illinois Liquor Control Act all contain provisions prohibiting the possession of a fake ID and the fictitious use of a legitimate identification card.  Depending upon the circumstances of each case, the applicable law and the subsequent penalties may vary. Prosecution, however, will generally range from a Class A misdemeanor, with a $500 minimum fine, to a Class 4 felony, with the same minimum fine but increased maximum penalties.

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