Shoplifting is a crime that involves taking merchandise from a store without paying for it. In the state of Illinois, shoplifting is known as retail theft, and the specific charges and penalties will depend on the value of the items that were allegedly stolen. If you have been accused of shoplifting in Illinois, or if you have been arrested and charged with retail theft, it is important to understand the potential penalties you may face if you are convicted. In some cases, you could face felony charges, which could result in being sentenced to more than one year in jail and fines of up to $25,000.
Retail Theft Laws in Illinois
Illinois law identifies several different types of activities that may fall under the category of retail theft. In general, retail theft involves illegally taking possession of merchandise sold in a retail store with the intention of depriving the store’s owner of receiving payment for items. However, in addition to pocketing items and leaving a store without paying for them, retail theft may also involve actions such as switching price tags or intentionally ringing up the wrong price on a self-checkout register.
If the value of goods that were allegedly stolen is less than $300, retail theft will usually be charged as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. A second offense of retail theft of merchandise worth less than $300 is a Class 4 felony, and a person who is convicted may be sentenced to one to three years in jail.
Retail theft of merchandise valued at more than $300 is a Class 3 felony, which may lead to a jail sentence of three to five years. Notably, Class 3 felony charges may apply if a total of over $300 worth of merchandise was allegedly stolen in a “continuing course of conduct” that took place over a one-year period. Theft by emergency exit, in which a person commits retail theft and leaves a store through a fire door or another designated emergency exit, is a Class 2 felony that can result in a prison sentence of three to seven years.
Consequences of Shoplifting
In addition to the potential jail time and fines, a conviction for shoplifting can have other long-lasting consequences on a person’s life. These may include:
A criminal record, which can affect future employment opportunities and housing applications.
Difficulty obtaining loans or credit due to the negative impact on a person’s credit history.
Loss of certain professional licenses or certifications, especially if the theft is related to a person’s profession (e.g., a pharmacist who is accused of stealing prescription drugs).
Loss of trust and reputation in the community.
Legal Defense Options in Retail Theft Cases
If you have been charged with shoplifting in Illinois, it is crucial to seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney. A skilled lawyer can help you explore possible legal defenses, which may include:
Mistaken identity – Proving that you were not the person who committed the crime.
Lack of intent – Showing that you did not have the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the items that were allegedly stolen.
Illegal search and seizure – Challenging the legality of how the evidence of retail theft was obtained by law enforcement.
Insufficient evidence – Questioning the prosecution’s ability to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
It is important to note that every case is unique, and the strategies used will depend on the specific circumstances surrounding your arrest and the offenses you are accused of committing. Consulting with a knowledgeable attorney will help you determine the best course of action as you build a defense strategy.
Contact a Naperville Retail Theft Defense Attorney
If you are facing retail theft charges in Illinois, it is crucial to consult with a skilled DuPage County shoplifting defense lawyer to protect your rights. At [[title]], we are dedicated to providing aggressive and effective representation for our clients. We can help you determine whether you may be able to prove your innocence or whether it may be possible to negotiate with prosecutors to receive probation or deferred adjudication. To learn how we can help with your case, contact us at [[phone]] and set up a free consultation with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer today.