I do not see a way you can avoid court for a Class A misdemeanor for retail theft. Not that you are likely to be sentenced to the maximum, but a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to $2,500.00 in fines and up to 1 year in jail. The Illinois retail theft statute is 720 ILCS 5/16A-3(a) and you can read the law here: http://tinyurl.com/ILRetailTheft
I agree with the other attorneys you should consult a McHenry County area attorney (I am one BTW and would be happy to give you a free consultation). If you were detained at a retail store, you may have been a bit overwhelmed by what was happening.
If you were arrested by a Village Police Officer and charged with a local ordinance violation or retail theft, as has been stated, you may not be able to explore a diversion program. Instead of wondering, why not be proactive? Look your citation (ticket) up on the McHenry County Public Case database which can be found here: http://220.127.116.11/wow65/runApp?id=0
This will tell you who has brought the case, when your next court date is, etc. If you see say a Village of Cary or Village of Crystal Lake as the moving party, chances are you are being accused of an ordinance violation. That being said, you still should consider talking to an attorney who might be able to negotiate a better resolution and explore any alternatives that might exist.
Also, you should be aware that in Illinois, retailers who have suffered a retail theft can sue the person arrested and demand monetary compensation. Under the Illinois law, retailers can seek damages in the form of payment for 1) actual damages equal to the full retail value of the item(s) taken, 2) a penalty not less than $100 and not more than $1000 and 3) attorney’s fees and court costs. This is secondary and not apart of any criminal issues. If the retailer wishes to pursue you for a civil demand, you will usually get a letter to that effect.
I suggest you talk to an attorney and explore your options. Best of luck with your case.
This answer is marginal legal advice and does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Every client and case is unique. The best advice is to always consult with an attorney. Free legal resources at www.ZippToCourt.com
Yes, you have to go to court. The answer to the remainder of your question depends upon whether you were charged by the State of Illinois or a municipality. If the State of Illinois is the Plaintiff, then you might qualify for a diversion program. If the Plaintiff is a municipality, you do not qualify because you were charged with an ordinance violation and not a jaliable offense. You should seek the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney who is also familiar with civil demands which go hand in hand with retail theft cases.