It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also a time of the year that sees an increase for some crimes.
During the holidays in Illinois, the incidence of certain crimes goes up for a variety of reasons. People leaving town presents an opportunity for break-ins. Increased online shopping and package delivery invite theft from your doorstep. Then there’s being in close quarters with friends and family who may not get along… it’s important to understand what tends to occur most often during the holidays so you can try to avoid these crime windows.
Here are some common crimes in Illinois and their associated charges.
Common Illinois Crimes
The holidays seem to spark an uptick in particular crimes. Many of these crimes are theft related, but some involve being in close proximity to friends and family or getting behind the wheel after drinking too much. The most common holiday crimes in Illinois include:
This time of the year, homes are often full of expensive merchandise. This presents an enticement for those who wish to break into a home to commit theft and take those high-priced items.
If a person enters another person’s place of residence without authority – or remains there without permission – and intends to commit theft or another felony act, then it can result in residential burglary charges.
Generally, residential burglary charges are Class 2 felonies in Illinois. However, if a personal residence is involved, it can be elevated to a Class 1 felony. The penalties for this include up to 15 years in prison.
It’s an unfortunate reality that getting together with family over the holidays plus end-of-year stress can and does lead to disagreements. Some of these can escalate into domestic violence charges.
If a crime is committed against a family member or member of your household in Illinois, then it can be considered a crime of domestic violence. Domestic battery is one of the most common crimes of domestic violence committed.
Domestic battery occurs when a person deliberately causes bodily harm to a member of the household or family by making contact with them physically in a provoking or offending way. It’s a Class A misdemeanor in most circumstances, unless you have any previous domestic violence convictions.
In that case, it’s a Class 4 felony, which is punishable by six years behind bars and fines of as much as $25,000. Conviction of a Class A misdemeanor can lead to up to 12 months in jail and fines of $2,500.
Aggravated domestic battery can also be charged if permanent disability, disfigurement, or great bodily harm is caused to the victim. It’s considered a Class 2 felony and can be punished by up to seven years in prison.
This time of the year, stores are packed with people and merchandise, which leads to an uptick in the number of shoplifting crimes that occur. Taking possession of merchandise you’ve not paid for in a store or altering, switching, or removing a price tag is considered shoplifting or “retail theft” in Illinois. It can also occur if you change a product’s packaging, remove the theft-prevention device from an item, or falsely exchange or return items.
The penalties for retail theft in Illinois depend on the value of the merchandise. For example, an item worth $300 or less is generally a Class A misdemeanor. It can become a Class 4 felony if it’s a repeated offense that involves altering a theft-prevention device – or if an emergency exit is used in the commission of the crime.
Retail theft of items valued over $300 constitutes a Class 3 felony, but it can be considered a Class 2 felony if an emergency exit is used. Any of these charges can lead to jail time and penalties that far exceed the value of the merchandise taken.
Driving Under the Influence
People like to get together with friends and family this time of the year. That can often result in drinking too much and getting behind the wheel when you shouldn’t. In Illinois, anyone with a blood alcohol level above 0.08 percent and in physical control of a vehicle is guilty of a DUI.
DUIs can also be given for being under the influence of a controlled substance. If found guilty of a DUI, then you can face the loss of your driver’s license, jail time, and community service. You might even be ordered to take substance abuse classes.
The penalties faced depend on how high your blood alcohol level was at the time you were driving and how many, if any, prior DUI offenses you already possess. The more DUIs on your record, the more serious the criminal and administrative penalties will be.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by Avvo (2013 and 2018), SuperLawyers (2015-2020), The National Trial Lawyers, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.