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New Illinois Law Encourages Probation for Low-Level Offenders2017 brings some good news for certain low-level offenders who could be facing a prison sentence. A new law effective Jan. 1, 2017 requires judges to review presentence reports and give reasons why an offender is being sentenced to jail time if the crime is a Class 3 or Class 4 felony and the offender has no prior violent convictions.

Thus, if you are convicted of a crime that could be punishable by probation or conditional discharge, and you have never been sentenced to either before, a judge must explain why a prison sentence is appropriate.

This law should have the effect of reducing the number of offenders sentenced to a prison term and increase the number of offenders receiving probation. Supporters of the law say that it will:

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Police Take Winning Lottery Ticket During Drug RaidA woman in Decatur, Illinois lost her winning lottery ticket when her home was raided after her boyfriend was suspected of dealing drugs. The winning scratch-off ticket was worth $50,000.  How could the police do this legally?

The answer is that there is a procedure in Illinois called asset forfeiture that allows police to seize property that is suspected to be related to a crime or the fruit of a crime. In the case of the winning lottery ticket, police believed that the ticket was purchased using proceeds from drug dealing.

A trial court ruled that the lottery ticket could be returned to the girlfriend, who was the person who scratched the ticket off. However, the appellate court reversed, holding that police could keep the ticket and the winnings.

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Your Rights If You Are Suspected of Shoplifting, theft, criminal lawShoplifting is a common crime. More than 10 million people have been caught shoplifting in the U.S. in the past five years, according to the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention.

Being accused of shoplifting or theft is unique in that police are not usually involved, at least at first. Usually, a security guard or someone else employed by the store is the person to first accuse someone suspected of shoplifting. Because of this, there are different rules that stores and security guards must follow.

What happens if you are suspected of shoplifting? First, a store employee may stop you, and they can stop you before you exit the store. Under Illinois law,  a store can detain you if they have “reasonable grounds” to believe that you shoplifted. The store can only detain a suspect in a “reasonable manner and for a reasonable length of time” for the purpose of:

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