Two trends have emerged in recent years: An increase in seemingly isolated “smash and grab” burglaries of high-end retail establishments throughout Chicago and the suburbs, as well as an increase in so-called organized crime. In response, the federal and state authorities have been increasing their efforts to thwart and prosecute these crimes.
There are times when a larger smash and grab or a series of smash and grabs become one larger crime. When this happens, the stakes are much higher and the penalties much more severe.
A recent arrest by the Organized Retail Crime Task Force
According to the report, the authorities uncovered tens of thousands of stolen items, including electronics, clothing, beauty products, furniture and other items totaling millions of dollars of value. The authorities uncovered these items in storage units in the city.
An arrest of this kind, from the Organized Retail Theft Crime Task Force, is certain to result in charges of organized crime. It is important to understand that constitutes organized crime and how simple burglaries and thefts can result in these charges.
As the name suggests, the most important distinction of organized crime that separates it from other crimes is that it is organized. There are no definitive lists of types of crimes that can constitute organized crime. Really, any crime that involves organization and a common plan can be charged as part of an organized crime scheme or activity.
When it comes to theft crimes of local retail establishments, the prosecutor will likely try to prove the thefts were not isolated but rather a series of thefts that were all part of a common plan. The number and aggregated value of retail products uncovered, as well as the multiple storage units used to conceal the stolen items, all suggest a strong case for one common plan that would make this an organized crime.
How are these crimes sentenced?
Organized crime is a more serious crime than a simple robbery or burglary, with potentially much more significant jail or prison time, fines and other penalties resulting from a conviction.
Generally, when sentencing an organized crime like this, Illinois prosecutors seek to increase the charges and the penalties. If they can prove that it wasn’t a one-off theft but rather a series of thefts that are part of one common plan, they will charge it in the aggregate, which means they will add the value of the stolen property together to increase the potential penalties. All the thefts will get joined together and charged in the aggregate as one larger crime. In Illinois, multiple thefts committed by the same person as part of a continuing course of conduct in different jurisdictions (counties) can be aggregated in one jurisdiction also meaning that they may be prosecuted in any jurisdiction in which one or more of the thefts occurred.
All else being equal, theft charges are increased as the amount stolen is increased. So, while a theft of between $500 and $10,000 would be a class 3 felony (resulting in at least two years in prison if sentenced to incarceration), a theft of more than $1 million would be a class X felony, resulting in up to 30 years in prison. There are also vast differences if charged as retail theft or burglary.
The importance of reducing charges
Reducing charges is a critical component to defending against complicated theft and burglary charges. For example, in a case alleging multiple thefts of railroad chassis, attorney Darryl Goldberg was able to ensure that the defendant was able to avoid jail time completely keep his job and duck a felony conviction. If the defendant of this case had gotten a felony conviction, he might have been in prison for 15 years.
It is important to note that each case is unique, with numerous possible mitigating or aggravating factors that could change outcomes and legal strategies. With the inherent limitations of a blog post, we are limiting the discussion to very general principles here.
The current Chicago arrest involved well more than $1 million if the prosecutor can link these crimes into one organized plan.
These are serious charges
While there are numerous ways to attack charges of this kind, one of the most important things is to break the link connecting any alleged crimes. If there is any way to invalidate evidence linking all the smaller thefts into one organized crime, and experienced attorney will find it.
Make sure you work with a knowledgeable, experienced criminal defense attorney if you are being charged with a major theft crime. Call attorney Darryl A. Goldberg to learn more.