What to expect with a Retail Theft charge in Springfield, Illinois
If you have been charged with Retail Theft or Shoplifting in Sangamon County, you are probably scared, nervous and embarrassed. What is going to happen? Are they going to throw me in jail for my first offense? Will the judge yell at me? Will I get fired from my job? These questions are probably keeping you up at night.
Our Springfield Retail Theft Defense Lawyers wrote this article to calm your nerves and try to give you a sense of upcoming events. It should be noted that if you are charged with Felony Retail Theft, this article is not for you. Whether or not it is a felony or a misdemeanor, if you are charged with Retail Theft, it is always best to hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer and ours would be happy to speak with you. We offer Free Initial Consultations so give us a call anytime at (217) 414-8889.
When you are formally charged with misdemeanor Retail Theft, you are most likely given a Notice to Appear in court. As of the writing of this article, Misdemeanor and Traffic First Appearances are held in Courtroom 6C of the Sangamon County Courthouse. If you do not know where you are supposed to be, contact the Sangamon County Circuit Clerk’s Office and they will be happy to point you in the right direction.
When you get off the elevators and approach the courtroom, there may be a line. You need to check in with the clerk of the court who will be in the hallway of the courthouse directly outside of the courtroom. Give them their name and they will pull your court file. IF YOU DO NOT CHECK IN, YOU WILL BE THE LAST TO GO.
After you check in, take a seat inside the courtroom. Certain days can be very busy so it is best to go as far forward as possible so everyone can get a seat. The judge will then enter the courtroom. It is appropriate for you to stand when the judge enters the room. The judge will inform the courtroom of the procedure.
Generally speaking, the judge will call all of the cases in which lawyers are involved. This is because lawyers have to be in numerous courtrooms at the same time. The judge will then start calling cases in the order in which they checked in. Most often, the judge will call the traffic cases first and then the misdemeanors.
When your name is called, line up on the right side of the room and wait your turn. When your name is called you will approach the bench. The judge will hand you a copy of the charges, read them to you, and advise you of the potential penalties. This is not the time to argue your case to the judge.
Retail Theft is a Class A Misdemeanor. That means that you can be sentenced up to a year in prison and fined up to $2,500. The judge will then ask the prosecutor if they have have an offer for you. The prosecutor will tell you the offer which you can accept by pleading guilty. If you do not accept the offer, the judge will enter a plea of not guilty and give you a trial date.
You just told me what was going to happen, why would I need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
The best way to answer that question is to ask a few questions to you. If you know the answers to these, perhaps you do not need an attorney. However, if you don’t, it is strongly recommended that you do hire a criminal defense lawyer.
- Have you reviewed the police report and security cameras?
- Did you review the evidence to determine if your rights were violated?
- What section of the criminal code were you charged with violating?
- Can they prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt?
- Is the offer the best possible deal you can get?
- What do you base that on?
- Did you subpoena all witnesses and evidence that you need?
- How will the offer affect your job?
- If you accept the offer, will you be able to get it off your record?
Before you do anything with your case, you should be comfortable with your answers to those questions. If you aren’t, you could inadvertently lose your job, get kicked out of school (or never accepted) and create a permanent criminal record. If you need a Criminal Defense Lawyer who will fight for you, contact the Noll Law Office at (217) 414-8889.