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Examining Self-Defense Laws in Illinois

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In some situations, you may have to commit an act of self-defense in order to protect yourself, others, or your property. An act of self-defense is usually an act of force that would, in other circumstances, be illegal. The state of Illinois recognizes that there are some situations in which you might need to use force against another person to protect yourself from harm. These self-defense laws can be found in the Illinois Criminal Code of 2012 under Justifiable Use of Force

If you have been charged with a crime in Illinois, you can use self-defense as an argument for your innocence with help from an Illinois criminal defense lawyer .

Defending Yourself

In Illinois, a person is permitted to use force against another person “when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or another against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force.” For an argument of self-defense to be legitimate, you must prove that:

• You or someone else were threatened by a person’s use of unlawful force;

• Your use of force was necessary to protect yourself or the other person; and

• The only reason you used force was to prevent harm to yourself or the other person.

Imminent danger means that the threat of harm was present and immediate. You can also only use self-defense as an argument if the imminent threat was unlawful force. Unlawful force can include acts like:

• Sexual assault or abuse;

• Robbery;

• Murder;

• Assault;

• Domestic violence; or

• Rape.

Defending Your Property

In Illinois, you are also allowed to use force when you believe that using such force will allow you to prevent or stop unlawful entry or attack on your property. If the force that you used was likely to result in death or great bodily harm, the force can only be justified as self-defense if:

• The entry to your property was made in a violent or riotous manner and the use of force was necessary to prevent to you or others on your property; or

• The use of force was necessary to prevent a felony from being committed on your property.

A Skilled Joliet, IL Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

If you have been charged with a crime because you used force in self-defense, you need the help of an experienced Will County criminal defense lawyer . The Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba can help you make your case as to why your use of force was justified in that situation. As an Illinois citizen, you retain the right to protect yourself and your property. Call the office at 815-740-4025 to schedule a free consultation.

Illinois Politicians Aim to Make Penalties Higher For Absent Defendants

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When someone is arrested on criminal charges , they are typically held in in police custody until they are set to appear in court or until they are released on bail. Bail is a monetary amount that is usually set by the judge in accordance with laws and acts as a type of insurance that the person will appear back in court when they are supposed to do so. Typically, a bail amount is thousands of dollars, so defendants are only required to pay 10 percent of the set bail. Once a defendant posts bail, they are free to be released from police custody, but they do not always go back to court when required to do so.

Defendants Attempt to Avoid Prosecution

Two Illinois lawmakers are trying to make changes to Illinois’ current failure to appear laws. They state that there has been an increase in the number of suspects who post bail but never actually return to court when they are called to do so. The DuPage County State’s Attorney’s office recently expressed concern with the number of defendants who had been charged with violent crimes such as child pornography, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery and aggravated DUI, but never showed up in court after posting bail.

Prosecutors Point Fingers at Bail Reform Act

DuPage County prosecutors have been blaming Illinois’ Bail Reform Act, which went into effect last year. The DuPage County State’s Attorney also said that the changes they wish to make include making a failure to appear the same class penalty as the crime the defendant was originally charged with. Currently, when a person does not appear in court when they have posted bail, they are charged with a crime that is a class lower than the original crime, though it is never less than a Class C misdemeanor.

A Joliet Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

Not all defendants who are granted bail violate the agreement that is made when bail is posted. The majority of people who post bail also show up in court when they are requested to do so. If you have been charged with a crime, you have no time to waste - you should contact a Will County criminal defense lawyer . If you are facing criminal charges, call the office at 815-740-4025 to set up a consultation.

What Can Happen If You Commit a Theft or Retail Theft in Illinois

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When you are short on cash, shoplifting or retail theft can be very tempting. After all, stores have to expect some percentage of losses. A lot of merchandise simply gets damaged by careless employees or clumsy shoppers. And, when a store expects you to scan your own purchases, it is hardly your fault when the machine malfunctions. Right? While you may think a small theft is no big deal, state law says otherwise.

Retail Theft Is a Class A Misdemeanor, Same as a DUI

As unfair as it may seem, Illinois law considers a small retail theft to be as serious as driving under the influence . Both offenses are Class A misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Retailers have also gotten more serious about using security cameras and other systems to prevent and punish shoplifting. Even if you are not stopped before leaving the store, store employees can still report you to the police, using your image caught a security camera and/or your vehicle license plate number. In other words, you can be arrested for retail theft days or weeks after leaving a store.

Felony Threshold is $300 for Retail Theft, $500 for Other Thefts

Illinois state law is tougher on theft from a store than, for example, theft of a bike or other item left unattended in public. Retail theft becomes a Felony if the retail value of the items taken is over $300. But, outside a store, a theft becomes a felony only when the value exceeds $500, as long as the theft did not involve a taking directly from a person’s body, a break-in, or special entity (school, place of worship, government property).

Ways to Avoid a Felony Shoplifting or Retail Theft Conviction

Many state officials think that the current laws on shoplifting are far too harsh. The last time the felony theft threshold was adjusted was in 2011, when the threshold for retail felony theft was raised from $150 to $300 and the threshold for other theft was raised from $300 to $500. The Illinois legislature is considering a bill that would raise the felony threshold for all types of theft to $2,000 but it has not been passed as of last year.
In the meantime, local prosecutors can choose whether they prosecute a theft as a felony or misdemeanor, or refuse to prosecute at all. For example, the Cook County State’s Attorney announced in 2016 that they would treat retail theft cases under $1,000 as misdemeanors.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can often negotiate a felony theft charge down to a misdemeanor, get a shoplifting charge dismissed entirely, or negotiate for a more favorable sentence. For example, a first-time offender may be eligible for court supervision, which keeps a conviction off your record and allows all records of your arrest to be expunged . Offenders with a substance use disorder (e.g., alcoholism or drug addiction) may be eligible for a special program that emphasizes treatment instead of jail time, such as TASC probation (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities).

A Joliet Theft Crimes Defense Attorney to Protect Your Rights

If you have been arrested for shoplifting or retail theft, do not let police or prosecutors pressure you into a confession or guilty plea. Consult an experienced Will County theft defense attorney before making any decisions. At the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba, we know how important it is to maintain a clean criminal record and will aggressively defend you against any theft charges. Contact us at 815-740-4025 for a free review of your case. We answer all calls including nights and weekends.


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