There are a variety of situations in which a person may find themself facing criminal charges. These charges should always be taken seriously, since a conviction can result in multiple different types of penalties, including fines, jail time, probation, community service, and a permanent criminal record. Retail theft, commonly known as shoplifting, is an offense that can result in either misdemeanor or felony charges, and those who have been accused of retail theft should be sure to understand how Illinois law applies to their situation, the potential consequences they may face, and the best defense strategies against these charges.
What Is Considered Retail Theft?
While shoplifting will often involve pocketing merchandise and leaving a store without paying for these items, retail theft can take a variety of other forms. According to Illinois law, retail theft can also include:
Altering or removing price tags in order to purchase items at less than their full retail value.
Transferring an item into the box or container for another item with the intent of paying less than the full retail price for an item.
Ringing an item up on a cash register for less than the item’s full retail value.
Stealing a shopping cart from the premises of a retail store.
Attempting to exchange merchandise for money or store credit when a person did not legally acquire the item.
Removing a theft detection sensor from an item or using a theft detection shielding device with the intent of stealing the item.
Failing to return items or equipment that had been leased or rented from a property owner.
Using an emergency exit to commit one of the above forms of retail theft.
Retail theft is usually charged as a Class A misdemeanor if the value of the property that was allegedly stolen is $300 or less, or $150 or less in the case of motor fuel. A conviction for a Class A misdemeanor can result in a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of $75 to $2,500. If the property that was allegedly stolen is worth more than $300, or $150 of motor fuel, retail theft is charged as a Class 3 felony, and a conviction can result in a two-to-five-year jail sentence and a fine of $75 to $25,000. Felony charges will also apply if a person allegedly committed multiple acts of retail theft within one year and the total value of the merchandise stolen was over $300, or $150 of motor fuel.
If a person had previously been convicted of any type of theft charges, including robbery, burglary, or forgery, retail theft involving property worth $300 or less will be charged as a Class 4 felony, and a conviction can result in a jail sentence of three to six years. Theft by emergency exit is also a Class 4 felony if the merchandise that was allegedly stolen is worth $300 or less. Theft by emergency exit of merchandise worth more than $300 is a Class 2 felony, and a conviction can result in a jail sentence of three to seven years. All felony convictions carry a maximum fine of $25,000.
Contact an Aurora Retail Theft Defense Lawyer
If you have been accused of committing retail theft, you will want to take steps to protect your rights and defend against these charges. At the Law Offices of Brian J. Mirandola, we can provide you with representation during criminal proceedings and help you build a defense strategy that will allow you to avoid a conviction or minimize your potential consequences. Contact our Elgin criminal defense attorneys today at 847-488-0889 to set up a free consultation.