The offense of shoplifting, or retail theft as it is also known, is often viewed by many as a minor crime, but it is taken seriously by retailers and law enforcement. If you are caught shoplifting in Illinois, you are facing some of the strictest penalties in the nation. The definition of shoplifting is broader than you may think, encompassing many forms of deceiving retail stores and their workers.
Types of Shoplifting and Penalties in Illinois
Shoplifting is not just hiding merchandise under your shirt or in your pocket and leaving the store without paying. There are many actions that could result in you facing misdemeanor or even felony charges.
Under Illinois law, the following actions constitute shoplifting or retail theft:
- Leaving a store with merchandise without paying for it.
- Concealing merchandise within other merchandise to hide it from the cashier and sneak it out of the store
- Dishonestly claiming to own merchandise or claiming to have already paid for the merchandise
- Changing the displayed price or price tag on an item to make it appear to cost less
- Changing the merchandise label on an item to make it appear that it is a less expensive item
- Ringing up an item at a register for less than the actual price. While this has traditionally been used by cashiers as a way to benefit themselves or others, it is becoming more common with general shoppers with the popularization of self-checkout registers.
- Taking a shopping cart from store property and not returning it
- Keeping a leased item past the term of the lease and not returning it or paying full price for it
- Using or possessing a tool to remove theft-detection devices
- Using or possessing a laminated bag, coated bag, or other devices to shield merchandise from a store’s theft sensors
If the total value of the amount that was shoplifted is under $300, you will typically be facing a Class A misdemeanor. However, you may face more serious charges, up to a Class 3 felony if you have previous shoplifting convictions, used an emergency exit while entering or fleeing the store, or took more than $150 in gasoline without paying. If the total value of the merchandise is over $300, which is easier to do than you may think, you will also be facing Class 3 felony charges.
Contact an Elgin Retail Theft Defense Lawyer
Many cases of suspected shoplifting turn out to be innocent mistakes or overzealous security guards. At The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola, we know how to fight for you if you have been arrested for shoplifting. Our Kane County shoplifting defense attorney will fully investigate the case and work to have the charges reduced or dropped. Call our office for a free consultation at 847-488-0889.