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Will County criminal defense attorneyGovernor J.B. Pritzker has signed a new bill into law that targets organized retail theft in Illinois. The law, known as the INFORM Act, will go into effect on January 1, 2023, and will allow the Illinois attorney general to charge anyone who knowingly participates in an organized retail theft of more than $300 with a Class 3 felony. Offenders who engage in organized theft from multiple establishments could be charged with a Class 2 felony.

The bill comes as a response to increasing retail theft, including by organized crime rings, and as a reversal of a movement in recent years in some jurisdictions to lower the charges of shoplifting and other retail theft crimes. The Cook County State’s Attorney has not yet commented on how the law would impact Cook County. Currently, Cook County does not charge someone with a retail theft crime for goods valued at less than $1,000.

The bill will give one state’s attorney jurisdiction when crimes by the same individual or group occur in more than one county. It will create a statewide intelligence platform to help law enforcement track organized groups and provide additional funding for attorneys and investigators. It also focuses on online third-party marketplaces, where much of the stolen merchandise ends up for sale.

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Will County criminal defense attorneysIt probably comes as no surprise that retail theft is taken seriously by retailers and law enforcement in Illinois. To protect merchandise at stores and retailers, Illinois has some of the strictest penalties for shoplifting in the country. While you may commonly think of shoplifting as sneaking an item out of a store in a pocket or under a coat, Illinois law specifies a number of actions that constitute retail theft or shoplifting.

Retail Theft in Illinois

Under Illinois law, the following actions constitute shoplifting or retail theft:

  • Sneaking merchandise out of a store without paying for it. This is a classic example of shoplifting.
  • Changing the price tag or label of an item to make it appear to cost less than it should.
  • Hiding merchandise in other merchandise in order to sneak it out of the store.
  • Under-ringing an item at a register. This charge had been more commonly used against store employees when buying items for themselves or for their friends or acquaintances. However, it is also becoming more common with the advent of self-checkout lines in grocery stores and other retailers
  • Removing a shopping cart from the property of a store and not returning it.
  • Knowingly deceiving a store about the ownership of merchandise. This can include claiming you’ve already purchased an item if it has in fact not been paid for.
  • Using or possessing a theft detection shielding device or a tool to remove theft detection devices. These can include a laminated or coated bag or another device used to shield merchandise from being detected by a store’s theft sensors.
  • Not returning a leased item to a store within the agreed-upon lease term and not paying the full price for taking possession of the item.

Most minor retail theft charges, typically those under $300, are prosecuted as a Class A misdemeanor. More serious charges, up to a Class 3 felony can be charged under certain circumstances. These include previous convictions for shoplifting or other crimes, use of an emergency exit during the shoplifting, or shoplifting a total value of merchandise of over $300 or motor fuel of over $150. The value of items taken can quickly add up, meaning that felony charges are more likely than you might think.

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joliet divorce lawyerAs divorce after the age of 50 becomes more common, it is becoming clear that the issues facing couples who split later in life may be different from those whose divorce occurs in their twenties, thirties, or forties. Child custody and child support are less likely to be issues, unlike if you had divorced when your kids were younger. However, new challenges on how to divide marital assets, handle spousal support, and plan for retirement savings and social security are more common.

Three Common Issues When Couples Divorce Near Retirement

  • Spousal maintenance or alimony – While alimony itself is not an uncommon issue to tackle during a divorce, there are additional challenges for older individuals. If one of the spouses has limited or no recent work experience, it can be more difficult to get the opportunities to learn new skills or receive training to start or restart a career. This has a bigger influence on the calculation of spousal maintenance.

  • Division of marital property – Like spousal maintenance, dividing marital property in a gray divorce. While you may have accumulated more assets by this stage in your life, you also have less time to save more for the future. This puts more emphasis on how existing property is divided.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1586442568.jpgA major part of the decision-making process of any divorce involves the division of marital property. While savings, retirement accounts, and other assets may have significant value, the marital home is often the largest single asset any divorcing couple owns. As such, it can become a major point of contention during the divorce process. Depending on your situation and preferences, our experienced divorce attorneys can help you retain your house after a divorce or receive a fair settlement , either through its sale or a settlement during the divorce process. 

Options for Dealing with Your Home

Since Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning each spouse receives a fair, not equal share of the marital estate, a home can often pose a problem during the process. Depending on the length of the marriage, how much equity the couple has in the house, and the value of their other assets, the house may have a greater value than the rest of their assets combined. Therefore, there are different solutions to consider on how to equitably handle the house and its value during the division of marital property. These options include:

  • The house can be sold, with the proceeds being equitably divided between the spouses

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_356898968-1.jpgIn Illinois, individuals accused of endangering a spouse, family member, or domestic partner may be served with an order of protection. The purpose of the protection order is to keep them away from the alleged victim and prevent the subject from contacting the victim. If you have been served by an order of protection, it is important that you comply with the order and that you understand your rights and responsibilities. 

Orders of Protection in Illinois 

There are three different types of Order of Protection under Illinois law:

  • Emergency Order of Protection - The first step is usually for an emergency order to be sought by petitioning a judge. The accused individual does not need to be present for this hearing. This order will last for 14 to 21 days, after which a hearing will be held and a judge will determine if the order should be extended. 
  • Interim Order of Protection - This order can be used to extend the order of protection for an additional 30 days until a hearing is held.
  • Plenary Order of Protection - This final step may be ordered by a judge after a hearing where both parties are present. This order can last up to two years. 

Depending on the circumstances, the initial order may prevent you from contacting your spouse or your children. While you may want to plead your case immediately, it is important to abide by the order and not attempt any contact until a subsequent hearing can be held. This includes contact by phone call, text message, email, or sending a message through another person. Any violation of an order of protection is a Class A misdemeanor and you could face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. 

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