While internationally renowned for its influential comedy scene, groundbreaking food and drink venues, and diverse neighborhoods, Chicago is also known for its high crime rates. In response to the prevalence of gang violence, sex trafficking, and drug use throughout the city, local police and public officials have invested millions of dollars hunting down and incarcerating criminals.
Each day, hundreds of residents are arrested in Chicago and its surrounding areas for a wide range of crimes.Click To Tweet
According to FBI statistics, there are certain types of criminal arrests and charges that have been more common than others in Chicago for the last several decades.
Below, we’ve listed the most common types of criminal charges in the city.
Theft crimes. Murders may make national news, but theft and larceny are far more common crimes in the Chicago area. Theft can refer to a variety of charges involving dishonest acquiring of property. Examples of theft crimes include shoplifting, pickpocketing, and larceny. Generally, charges are dependent upon the type of property taken, the value of that property, and the location where the theft took place.
Burglary. Burglary is the second most common criminal charge in Chicago, and is punishable by prison sentences and steep fines. Burglary occurs when someone enters a building, motor vehicle, or other structure without permission with the intention of committing a crime. Burglary charges are elevated if the alleged crime occurs in a school or place of worship. The most serious burglary occurs when someone breaks into a residential home with the intent of committing a felony or theft, either by force or deception.
Motor vehicle theft. This type of crime involves the act of stealing or attempting to steal a car. In Illinois, motor vehicle theft is prosecuted under general theft. However, the law does contain statues pertaining to carjacking and failing to return a vehicle. A person may be charged with failure to return a vehicle if they do not return a vehicle within 10 days of a written demand from the owner to do so, or if they supply false information when renting a vehicle and fail to return the vehicle within 24 hours of the owner’s written request. A person commits carjacking when they use force to take a vehicle from another.
Aggravated Assault. The third most common criminal charge in Chicago covers a wide range of criminal behaviors. Aggravated assault involves an attempt to cause serious bodily harm to another, typically using a deadly weapon. Deadly weapons include guns and knives, as well as commonplace items that are used as weapons in the crime. It is possible to be charged with aggravated assault without actually causing physical harm to the other person.
When You are Arrested or Charged With a Crime in Chicago
With crimes like theft, burglary, and assault running rampant in our city, law enforcement officials are cracking down on these and other crimes. While taking a tough stance on crime helps to keep our city safe, it can also lead to a lot of undue arrests, charges, and convictions. In their haste to combat crime and make arrests, overzealous police officers may charge innocent people with serious crimes.
That’s why it’s important to be aware of your rights, and follow these steps when arrested or charged with a crime in Chicago.
Stay calm. It’s important to maintain control of your words, movements, and body language, and do not let your emotions dictate your actions. Do not attempt to run, refrain from making sudden movements, and never put your hands in your pockets. Do not resist arrest, even if you are innocent.
Invoke your right to remain silent. Regardless of the charge you are facing, it’s almost always in your best interest to remain silent. Even an offhand comment or an answer to a seemingly harmless question can be used against you in the future. When the police question you, politely tell them you choose to consult with an attorney before speaking with them. The only information you may provide is your name and address. You should also submit to having your photograph and fingerprints taken.
Get your arresting officers’ information. If you can, record the names and badge numbers of the police officers who arrested you. It is your legal right to do so.
Contact an attorney. After an arrest, police officers should allow you to contact your family and attorney via telephone. Get in touch with an attorney with experience in the Chicago criminal justice system as soon as you can. An experienced lawyer can help you understand the charges facing you, explore your options, and defend your rights in court. With a seasoned attorney on your side, you are in a much better position to have the charges against you reduced or dropped.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, Murder, and drug crimes.