You most definitely should hire an attorney We do not know what the outcome of your case will be as you could face jail time or a hefty fine - probably up to a year in jail and $2,500 . This is the worst case scenario and not likely to happen. There are other alternatives as well, but your attorney will be best able to minimize the damage for you and possibly even secure a deferral program if available. You should refrain from discussing your case online or in person with anyone but your attorney.
As for the civil demand letter - DO NOT PAY. There is law in the state of Illinois which allows for civil action collection when there is a retail theft. Most people choose to ignore the demand. This demand is for money over and above any fine you pay in compliance with a court order. People may get a few more letters, each time asking for more, and then they stop. While the retailer can sue you, it is extremely rare for anyone to actually be sued. You do not owe any money unless you are sued and the retailer wins. This is a common ploy. Do not pay. If you do, you will be in the national retailers database which could affect your ability to get a job and could impact your life in other ways. If you are uncomfortable, hire a lawyer and have the lawyer write a cease and desist letter. That should be the end of it.
Here is a good article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120347031996578719.html
The National Retail Theft Database is actually a voluntary list put together by different individual retailers. Further, any member that published the information on the list, can thereafter, remove it. Therefore, if you wish to have the entry removed, as you apparently do, your best bet would be to write a letter to the manager of the particular store and inquire as to what it would take for them to remove the entry.
Please go to this link:
You need a lawyer. An experienced Chicago attorney will most likely work out a deal so you can avoid jail and a conviction through a diversion program. I highly encourage you to get a lawyer.
This is not legal advice. This is merely a recommendation on how to get what you need from the Court.
I will not describe all variables of possible outcomes to you. Why? Because it is counterproductive. You need to select a reputable criminal defense attorney to assess your criminal case and complete it with the least social and criminal impact on your future aiming at keeping it minimal.
DISCLAIMER The answer given above by the lawyer serves for educational purposes only and provides general information and a basic understanding of the applicable law. Take notice that the answer above does not create an attorney-client relationship as this website is not intended to provide anyone a specific legal advice. Anyone using the site expressly consents that there is no attorney client privilege between any person and any attorney responding. Further take notice that the site should not be used as a crude substitute for any professional and competent legal advice by a licensed professional attorney in the applicable jurisdiction. The attorney above attempted to provide competent professional information, however, the law and its applications may change frequently and vary greatly from other U.S. jurisdictions and locales. Therefore, any information and materials provided above are general in nature, and may not apply to specific factual and legal circumstances related to one's personal legal issues. Contact an experienced lawyer admitted to practice in your State under an attorney-client privilege to further receive a competent legal advice before making any important decisions about your particular legal issue. For further inquiries please contact: Attorney Alexander Ivakhnenko 1021 West Adams, 102, Chicago, Illinois 60607 773-562-8602 http://alexanderivakhnenko.com
Contact a few Chicago Criminal Defense Attorneys and schedule a consult to discuss your options.
Most local Criminal Defense Attorneys offer FREE initial consults that can be helpful and informative.
Take advantage of the time you have before your next court date to educate yourself.
Sal Sheikh practices law in Illinois.This answer is provided solely for informational purposes only. You should always speak directly with a lawyer in your State. It is difficult to evaluate your legal problem without a consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not constitute legal advice, create an attorney-client relationship, or constitute attorney advertising.