Retail Theft charges require an experienced attorney who can effectively navigate through the courthouse where your case is pending. There are particular local rules and procedures that vary from county to county. It is wise to retain and experienced retail theft defense attorney that has this experience and knowledge and can handle any allegation of retail theft (misdemeanor of felony) that you may be charged with. At Gardi & Haught, Ltd., we thoroughly examine the evidence that we receive on each matter to determine whether or not your case should be taken to trial or challenged at a pre-trial motion hearing. In the event that the evidence is not favorable for our client, we are experienced negotiators and can often resolve cases favorably through plea negotiations. Some counties, such as Cook County, have a program known as Theft Deterrent School, which is a form of deferred prosecution. What this means is that certain alleged offenders (if they have little or no criminal background) may attend a theft deterrent class and later return to court to show proof of attendance. As long as the defendant has not been arrested while on bond and has a certificate of completion from the theft school, we return to court as scheduled and achieve a dismissal of the charges for our client. Keep in mind, this program is not available to all alleged offenders and is reviewed by the prosecutors on a case-by-case basis. For other individuals, misdemeanor retail theft charges may result in Court Supervision. This is a favorable outcome because it will not result in a public criminal record, and this sentence is also not a misdemeanor conviction as defined by the Illinois Code of Criminal Procedure. For those that have a more significant criminal history, other sentencing options include conviction sentences, i.e. Conditional Discharge (which is similar to Probation but the Defendant is not assigned a probation officer), Probation (where the Defendant is monitored by the Adult Probation Dept.), or a county jail sentence that can range anywhere from one (1) day to three-hundred sixty-four (364) days in custody. Felony allegations of retail theft are generally probation eligible. However, if someone has a long history of retail theft convictions and/or a publishable criminal history involving other crimes, the accused may be sentenced to an Illinois State Penitentiary sentence if a matter results in either a finding of guilty after a trial, or a plea of guilty. In cases where the prosecutor makes an offer that is either not favorable or unacceptable to our client, we often engage in a special conference between the Judge, the prosecutor, and (of course) one of the members of our legal team. This is commonly referred to as a 402 conference, and we regularly participate in these conferences if plea negotiations are unsuccessful. This is a way for our legal team to inform the Court about those positive aspects of our client’s lives, rather than simply focus on the charge itself, which is all the Court usually knows about the accused before a case is resolved. Often, the Judge will recommend a sentence that is more appropriate than what the assigned prosecutor has offered, and accordingly may result in a favorable plea disposition. If the client is not satisfied with the recommendation made by the Court, he/she is free to reject that recommendation and preserve their right to have a trial by either a judge (bench trial) or a trial jury.