Once you are arrested based on a complaint from someone, it is up to the local prosecutor as to whether or not to drop charges.

A lot of people in Illinois get arrested for retail theft.  Once that happens or even if you aren’t arrested, but just a suspect, it’s common for the store to send a letter asking you to pay for their “damages” from the theft.

Steal a $60 sweater and you’ll likely get a letter asking you to pay something around $800.  $60 for the sweater and the rest for their collection lawyer fees and administrative costs.  Some will tell you, usually verbally, that if you pay them they will not charge you or drop the charges if you have already been arrested.

Problem is that if the cops still want to arrest you they can.  If you are already arrested the store doesn’t have the power to drop charges.

By paying off those alleged debts, even if you are guilty, you are also providing potential evidence that can be used against you in a criminal case.  Our advice is to not sign anything, especially without a lawyer review.

But most importantly, don’t think that they can negotiate your freedom.  Their opinion counts, but just like when a battered spouse wants to drop charges, it’s not their decision.

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