Retail theft or shoplifting is a very serious charge in Illinois and the laws are very strict. Each year, retail thefts cost retail approximately 30 billion dollars in revenue. Because of the large losses that the retail industry giants take, they have lobbied the states to create harsher laws and penalties for retail theft.
Theft and retail theft laws are very similar however, there are subtle differences between them. If you have been charged with retail theft or theft in Illinois, there are many very important variances about the law that your criminal defense lawyer should know about the charges against you.
In Illinois, retail theft is when a person knowingly takes any amount of merchandise from a retail establishment with the intent to permanently deprive that retail establishment of the permeant use of that merchandise, without paying for it.
You will be charged with a misdemeanor retail theft if the amount that you stole is less than $300.
Retail theft is a class A misdemeanor that carries the potential punishment of up to 364 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2500.
Generally in the state of Illinois, if you commit retail theft and take over $300 in value from someone, you will be charged with a Class 3 felony.
A Class three felony offense is punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison with a maximum fine of $25,000 and repayment of restitution. Furthermore, the theft will go on your record forever and you may not be able to get it expunged. To get more in-depth information about the laws in Illinois you can look at the Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) website Sec. 16-25.
If you have a prior theft conviction in Illinois than any amount of money under $300 will still be a class 4 felony. You could steal a pack of gum and if you have a prior theft conviction then you will be charged with a class 4 felony.
A class 4 felony is punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison with a maximum fine of $25,000 and any amount of restitution. Moreover, if you commit retail theft and leave the store by an emergency exit, you will also be charged with a class 4 felony regardless of how much money you steal.
In Illinois, petty theft is when you knowingly steal or obtain control over the property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of that property. You will be charged with petty theft if the amount you stole does not exceed $500.
What is the punishment for petty theft in Illinois? Petty theft is a class A misdemeanor that carries the potential punishment of up to 364 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2500.
Generally, if you commit theft and you take over $500 in value from someone, then you will be charged with a Class 3 felony offense. Keep in mind that this is different from retail theft (over $300 for a felony).
In Illinois theft of a vehicle or grand theft auto is generally considered a felony offense. What determines if grand theft auto is a felony is the value of the vehicle. If the value of the vehicle Is $500 or more than you will be facing a felony offense for grand theft auto.
The main difference between theft and retail theft is who you are stealing from and the amount you are stealing. If you are caught stealing from a retail establishment then you will be charged with shoplifting or retail theft.
If you are caught stealing from a private person or anyone other than a retail establishment then you have committed theft. Another key difference is the dollar amount to be charged with a felony.
If you are charged with retail theft, any amount over $300 is a felony in Illinois. If you are charged with theft, any amount over $500 is a felony in Illinois. If you are wondering, “What is the difference between shoplifting and retail theft?” There is effectively no difference between them in Illinois, they are the exact same charges.
The following are just a few of the most common questions our clients ask us when dealing with a retail theft charge:
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If you got caught stealing and you were arrested, the police officer will assign you a court date. You may be wondering if you need a retail theft lawyer to help you defend the charges. The short answer is that you most likely will need a lawyer.
Sometimes you can beat the case without a lawyer if the witnesses never show. That is usually if you are in Chicago and if you are only charged with a misdemeanor.
If you are facing theft charges, it is in your best interest to get an experienced criminal defense lawyer. At Ktenas Law we handle all types of criminal charges. We know exactly how to defend against theft and retail theft charges.
Call today for a free consultation from the best Chicago defense lawyers and get your retail theft charges dismissed.