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Shoplifting in Illinois: Consequences and Legal Advice

Arresting someone for shoplifting may be frightening, especially if it's your first legal run-in. Theft is a serious offense in Illinois, and the extent of legal consequences is mostly determined by a number of circumstances surrounding the act. Shoplifting carries serious consequences, including substantial fines and even jail time, despite the fact that many people may view it as a small offense. It is critical that anyone charged with shoplifting establish a strong defense immediately following the accusation. 

Retail Theft and Shoplifting Laws

Shoplifting is defined under Illinois law to cover a wide range of offenses, such as removing or transporting something from a retail store without paying for it. According to Illinois law, Retail Theft or Shoplifting is a criminal crime that may be tried as a misdemeanor or a felony. The organized retail theft epidemic has reached crisis proportions in cities like Chicago, prompting small company owners to increase their vigilance and spend more money on security and video systems than they did in the past.

The Illinois shoplifting statute (720 ILCS 5/16-25) makes it illegal to knowingly take possession of, carry away, transfer, or cause to be carried away or transferred any goods that are on display, held, stored, or offered for sale in a retail merchant shop, with the intent of stealing them or to permanently deny the merchant access to them for use or benefit without paying the full retail value of them.

Penalties for Theft in Illinois

Suppose a person suspected of retail theft conceals items on their body and then takes them past the final point of sale in the store; the law permits a jury or court to infer guilt. The accused does not need to exit the store to face charges of shop theft. The various types of shoplifting are categorized below:

  • Theft by customers is the most prevalent. It happens when a consumer steals goods from a retail store. 
  • Employee theft is taking something from or abusing an employer's property without authorization. It includes the theft of goods and cash. If an employee is discovered stealing from their employer, there may be harsh legal penalties. Getting arrested and facing theft charges could be one of the outcomes.
  • Organized retail theft: This occurs when two or more people conspire to steal goods from retail establishments. It is a serious crime, as shop owners may record huge losses from organized retail theft. 
  • Fraudulent returns happen when a consumer returns goods to a retail shop with the intention of defrauding the business.

If you are found in Illinois shoplifting, you will face penalties. The value of the stolen goods determines the penalty for the offense. If the item is worth $300 or less, it is deemed a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. But if the value of the stolen goods is above $300, the offense is a Class 3 felony, which carries a two- to five-year jail term. Shop owners have the right to demand reimbursement for real damages, a penalty ranging from $100 to $1,000, court costs, and attorney fees.

Legal Advice and Defense Strategies for Theft Charges

If you are accused of violating shoplifting laws in Chicago, Sergei Kuchinski can guarantee that your legal rights are upheld and ensure the outcome of your case favors you. Our lawyers are committed to giving our clients strong legal aid by assisting you in establishing your innocence and negotiating probation or a deferred judgment with the prosecution.

Kuchinski Law Group will provide evidence that tends to demonstrate that the individual accused of breaking shoplifting laws did not intend to steal an item without paying for it. Our knowledgeable criminal defense attorney might present this. Get in touch with Kuchinski Law Group at (312) 765-7365  to help you fight the charges.