All retail theft charges are serious. Not only does a first offense carry a risk of jail, it is also considered a crime of moral turpitude. Once a shoplifting conviction is placed on your criminal record it can make it substantially more difficult to gain employment, pass any background checks or obtain a professional license. This is even more serious for young people with no prior criminal record. If you are charged with retail theft, you will need an experienced attorney to work to resolve your case in the most favorable manner possible. Retaining my office to represent you will give you the best chance of keeping a criminal conviction off your record.
What is Retail Theft
Illinois retail theft law is codified in 720 ILCS 5/16-25. The elements of shoplifting are the taking, carrying away, or concealing of merchandise offered for sale from any store or merchant with the intention of permanently depriving the merchant of that merchandise. Shoplifting charges can also be brought for changing price tags and purchasing the item for a lower price, moving items from one location in a store to another, assisting someone else with shoplifting or simply hiding the item on your person. There is no requirement that you must leave the store or pass the cash registers to be arrested. You can also be investigated and arrested for shoplifting if someone in your party committed the crime.
What is the Penalty for Retail Theft?
Retail Theft can be a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the value of the merchandise taken as well as the person’s previous record. A first offense retail theft of less than $300 is a Class A misdemeanor with a possible sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine up to $2,500. If the value of the merchandise taken exceeds $300 then it is a Class 3 Felony with a possible term in the Department of Corrections of 2 to 5 years.
Individuals with a prior theft, retail theft or burglary conviction on their record will be charged with a class 4 felony and can face one to three years imprisonment for any new retail theft charge, regardless of the value of the merchandise involved.
Possible Resolutions for a Retail Theft Case
If you or a loved one has been charged with retail theft there are options available to you as to how your case may be resolved. Some of these options include:
- Prosecution dismissal for lack of evidence
- Deferred prosecution program
- Court supervision
- Second chance probation
- Plea negotiations
- Bench or Jury tria