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Creative Criminals Still Get Caught in Will County

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Robbery (stealing from a person by force) and burglary (theft from a building or vehicle) are not new crimes in Will County . However, the way these crimes are accomplished, and the items that are stolen, do change over time. Here are some examples of recent trends in crimes that occur in Illinois:

Package Theft on the Rise

The huge growth of online shopping, with Amazon boxes appearing regularly on doorsteps across the nation, has greatly expanded the incidence of theft in residential areas . According to Joliet police, this is an easy “crime of opportunity” when a package is sitting in plain view by a front door. This might seem like a very minor offense for which the offenders are unlikely to be caught and prosecuted, but as such thefts have increased, delivery service drivers and police are increasingly suspicious of vehicles that appear to be following delivery vans. In one December 2017 case, two individuals were tied to thefts of packages from at least 11 different homes, including several big-ticket items such as TVs and iPhones. The thieves were each charged with two counts of felony theft, 10 misdemeanor counts of theft, and 10 misdemeanor counts of criminal trespassing.

Criminals Use Social Media to Lure Unsuspecting Victims

Another recent type of theft scam involves the use of dating apps or other social apps to “meet” an unsuspecting victim and arrange an in-person meeting. When the victim arrives at the meeting site, two or more thieves set upon the victim, taking wallets, phones, and even cars There have been numerous reports of such crimes in Illinois in the past couple of years. In a variation on this scam, the “new friend” comes to the victim’s house and robs them at gunpoint.

Walmart Is a Common Target for Thieves

In Will County, Walmart is a common target for thieves. Employees have been caught stealing cash from their checkout register as well as tucking merchandise into a shopping bag to take home. One cashier even figured out how to give her friends some free gifts at checkout, by first scanning an item, then voiding the sale, but still placing the item in their friend’s shopping bag.
Shoplifting is also a common problem for Walmart. In one recent incident, three Joliet women allegedly filled a shopping cart and then tried to exit the store without paying. Walmart theft prevention officers caught the women, but when one became combative, Walmart called in the Joliet police. The women took off before police arrived at the store, but given a description of the women and their vehicle, police were able to apprehend them quickly.

Trust an Experienced Joliet Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a family member has been arrested and charged with either misdemeanor or felony theft, understand that these charges are serious. A theft conviction will show up on your Illinois criminal record on any background check, which can impact your employment, housing, and educational opportunities. To protect your rights and minimize the impact of this mistake on your life, talk to a knowledgeable Will County Criminal Defense lawyer as soon as possible. Call the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 for a free and confidential consultation.

Number of Chicago Hate Crimes Dropped in 2017

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The greater Chicago area is well-known for many things. Some of them are good, such as deep-dish pizza and the attractions at the Navy Pier. Others are not so good, including the city’s reputation for violent crime . Two recent reports, however, seem to offer a measure of relief for those concerned about the violent crime in Chicago. The first one indicates that shootings and homicides were down in April compared to the same period last year for the 14th consecutive month—with more than a 20 percent decrease in the year-to-date numbers. The second report came from the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and showed that hate crimes in the city dropped in 2017 by nearly 16 percent over 2016.

Cycling Numbers

In 2016, Chicago police reported 73 separate hate crime incidents, an increase from 59 in 2015. The up-and-down cycle has been occurring since at least 2012. The numbers will spike one year, drop the next, then go back up again. For 2017, CPD shows that there were only 61 reported hate crimes.

If these numbers seem rather low, it is because of the fairly strict definition of a hate crime as provided by Illinois law. According to the Illinois Criminal Code, a hate crime is a crime motivated by “the actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin” of the victim. Hate crimes include, but are not limited to:

• Assault;

• Battery;

• Stalking, both in person and online;

• Intimidation;

• Criminal trespass; and

• Harassment.

Police and prosecutors have the power to elevate misdemeanor charges to felonies if they have evidence that the act in question can be considered a hate crime.

Reasons Are Unclear

While any drop in crime numbers is encouraging, experts and victims’ advocates are not sure what is driving them down. Some are wondering if there are actually fewer crimes being committed or if more crimes are going unreported. There is also the issue of motivation, because in order to be considered a hate crime, the perpetrator must be driven by the victim’s actual or perceived racial or other minority status. Determining what caused someone to commit a crime can be extremely difficult in many cases.

Federal numbers for 2017 have not yet been released, but national hate crime numbers were up in 2016 over 2015. “There are national trends,” said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, “but the regional ones are far more important. New York and Chicago are still near their recent highs.”

A Skilled Attorney Can Help

If you or a member of your family has been charged with any type of crime, including a hate crime, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney . Call 815-740-4025 to schedule a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.

Making Sure Your Child Enters Adulthood with a Clean Criminal Record

joliet juvenile attorney

When juveniles get in trouble with the law, all police and court records are supposed to be sealed . Then, when these children turn 18, they should enter adulthood with a clean record, right? Actually, it is not that simple.

The Juvenile Justice System Creates a Lot of Records

Anyone under the age of 18 who breaks the law in Illinois is processed through the juvenile justice system. This process creates a lot of records . The police will have an arrest report, transcripts of interviews, investigation notes, and even fingerprints and photographs of the minor. The local court will have records of charges filed, hearings held, and the final disposition of each case. The Illinois State Police also maintains records of all juvenile arrests and convictions, including mandatory fingerprint cards (effective January 1, 2000) for minors age 10 and up arrested on felony charges.

There will always be an arrest record, at a minimum, even if all charges are dismissed, or if a juvenile successfully completes a period of court supervision and thus avoids having a conviction on their record.

Any Record that Exists Has the Potential to Be Exposed

Juvenile records are sealed, which means the records cannot be viewed by the general public, the way adult criminal records can. But even sealed juvenile records can still be accessed by a variety of government agencies that have “good cause” to see them, including but not limited to law enforcement, the courts, probation officers, the military, and the Secretary of State (for vehicle code offenses). Realistically, any record that exists has the potential to be released, whether by mistake or by malicious intent.

Expungement Ensures that Juvenile Records are Physically Destroyed

The process of expungement will cause all physical records related to a juvenile offense to be destroyed, and the juvenile can go forward in life as if those events never happened and those records never existed. The only records that cannot be expunged are those where a juvenile was found guilty of first-degree murder or a felony sex offense.
Starting in 2018, Illinois began requiring the sautomatic expungement of many juvenile records . However, keep in mind that government agencies may not be perfect in their execution, and some records are not, in fact, eligible for automatic expungement. Therefore, to be sure all juvenile records are destroyed, and to get it done sooner than would happen under the automatic process, an individual can petition the circuit court for expungement. In particular, a juvenile found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor or any type of felony, such as shoplifting or drug possession, will want to pursue a petition for expungement.

Trust an Experienced Joliet Juvenile Expungement Attorney

If you or your child were ever arrested or adjudicated delinquent (the juvenile equivalent of an adult conviction of a crime) prior to reaching age 18, then you have cause to be concerned about any surviving juvenile records. You should contact a knowledgeable Will County juvenile expungement lawyer as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba will help you determine what records exist and where you need to file a petition for expungement. Contact us at 815-740-4025 for a free and confidential consultation.

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