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Dealing With Instances of Juvenile Retail Theft in IllinoisWhen it comes to teens and crime, there are certain types of crimes that are rather popular with teens, such as underage drinking and drug use. One of the more common crimes committed by those under the age of 18 is retail theft. According to the latest statistics from the FBI, there were more than 93,000 juveniles arrested in 2017 for committing theft or larceny. A juvenile is defined as someone who is under the age of 18, but the state of Illinois does not prosecute all juveniles the same. If a juvenile is at least 17, they can be prosecuted as an adult if the crime is serious enough. Juvenile court is different from adult court, but consequences for retail theft can be serious either way.

Consequences for Retail Theft 

In general, retail theft is a crime that occurs when a person intends to deprive a merchant of the benefit or retail value of their merchandise by:

  • Taking possession of it
  • Carrying it away
  • Transferring it from the store
  • Aiding someone in any of the previous actions. 

If the value of the stolen merchandise does not exceed $300, the crime is classified as a Class A misdemeanor which carries up to one year in jail, up to $2,500 in fines and up to two years of probation. If the merchandise exceeds $300, the charge is elevated to a Class 4 felony which carries one-to-three years in prison, up to $25,000 in fines and up to 30 months of probation.

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Alcohol and Minors: Never a Good Mix in IllinoisIt is not uncommon for teenagers to get in trouble with the law. When they do, the offenses they are known for committing are usually minor, yet serious offenses like theft, vandalism and traffic violations. One of the most common reasons teenagers get in trouble with the law is because of alcohol-related offenses. In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, you are required to be at least 21 years old to legally possess, purchase and/or consume alcohol. If you are caught drinking while under the age of 21, or if you are caught providing alcohol to someone under the age of 21, you could be facing serious fines and other consequences that could follow you for the rest of your life.

Possession or Consumption of Alcohol by a Person Under the Age of 21

In Illinois, consequences of underage drinking vary, but the person will likely be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. This means the person could face up to one year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. Additionally, that person’s driving privileges will be affected. If they receive court supervision, their license will be suspended for three months. If they are convicted, their license will be suspended for six months.

Providing Alcohol to a Person Under the Age of 21

It is also illegal for a person who is able to purchase alcohol to provide alcohol to a person who is under the age of 21. Doing so can result in a Class A misdemeanor charge, which carries possible consequences of up to one year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. This also includes providing alcohol to minors at a private residence under Illinois’ social host law. A minimum $500 fine will be imposed for a misdemeanor violation, with possible fines of up to $2,500. If death or serious bodily injury occurs, felony charges will be imposed, which can lead to up to three years in jail and up to $25,000 in fines.

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Cook County juvenile justice lawyerThe juvenile justice system was created with the understanding that children are different from adults, mainly because they have more of a chance of reforming their behavior before they reach adulthood. In 1899, Illinois was the first state to create a justice system for children that was separate than the one for adults. Though the juvenile justice systems of today are much different than they were 100 years ago, they retain the same idea -- that the main goal is to educate the child and change their behavior, rather than punish them.

Even though there is a separate court for those who are under the age of 18, not all juvenile offenders are tried as minors. Many juvenile criminal cases are transferred to adult court, which works quite differently. If a prosecutor feels the need, they can request that a juvenile be tried as an adult, but the judge must consider a number of factors before this happens.

Age and Background of the Child

First and foremost, a judge will consider the child’s age when deciding whether or not to transfer a criminal case to adult court. In Illinois, most cases involving juveniles age 17 or younger will stay in juvenile court, though there are certain offenses that will automatically go to adult court, such as murder. The judge will also consider the child’s history, such as previous criminal arrests, previous neglect or abuse to the child, and the child’s mental health and educational history.

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Cook County DUI defense lawyer underage drinking and drivingWhen examining traffic offenses or crimes that can be committed while driving, a DUI is one of the most serious charges one can face. The state of Illinois has cracked down on drunk driving in recent years for both underage drivers and adult drivers. Underage DUI is a very serious crime in Illinois. Not only is an offender violating DUI laws, but they are also violating the minimum drinking age laws. Having a teenage child who gets caught drinking and driving can be a nerve-wracking experience, but understanding the laws and the consequences for breaking them can help ease some of the uncertainty.

Zero Tolerance Laws

In an effort to reduce the number of teenagers who drink and drive, Illinois has adopted zero tolerance laws for drivers under the age of 21. Under these laws, any blood alcohol content (BAC) over .00 will result in charges. A first-time offender will lose their driving privileges for three months for any BAC that is over .00. They will lose their driving privileges for six months if they refuse to take a chemical test.

A second-time offender can expect to face much more serious consequences if he or she is caught drinking and driving while under the age of 21. A second offense under the zero tolerance laws will result in the loss of driving privileges for one year for a BAC over .00 or a loss of driving privileges for two years for refusing to take a chemical test.

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