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Shoplifting Laws in Illinois: Understanding the Penalties and Consequences

What Is Shoplifting in Illinois?

Have you or your loved one been caught shoplifting in Chicago? Shoplifting in Illinois encompasses several actions under the umbrella of retail theft.

These actions are defined by under Illinois law, specifically 720 ILCS 5/16-25, as attempts to unlawfully take possession of merchandise from a retail establishment without intending to pay the full retail value. Actions like switching price tags, concealing items with the intent to steal or unlawfully using an emergency exit to bypass theft detection systems fall under this category.

Retail theft isn’t confined to traditional methods. Using of devices like a theft detection shielding device or “booster bag,” which are laminated or coated bags designed to avoid detection, also counts as shoplifting. Additionally, “under-ringing” or manipulating cash register systems to reflect lower prices is considered criminal behavior.

For a detailed legal framework on these offenses, the Illinois Compiled Statutes provide comprehensive guidelines. At Hirsch Law Group, we assist clients by examining the nuances of their cases and building robust defense strategies. An experienced criminal defense attorney from our law firm may be able to utilize these strategies to dismiss criminal charges filed against you.

Legal Classifications of Shoplifting

Shoplifting offenses in Illinois vary based on the value of the stolen goods and the circumstances surrounding the alleged commission of the crime.

  • Class A Misdemeanor: For stolen property valued at under $300. Note that petty theft in Illinois refers to theft of a property valued below $500.

  • Class 4 Felony: For subsequent offenses involving property valued at under $300. Theft by emergency exit of an item valued at $300 or less is a Class 4 felony.

  • Class 3 Felony: When the stolen property is valued between $300 and $10,000. This class covers various theft crimes, including those occurring in places of worship or schools.

  • Class 2 Felony: Applied to thefts involving property worth between $500 and $10,000, especially if committed under certain conditions. For example, thefts involving governmental property.

Organized retail crime may also be a Class 2 or a Class 3 felony. Organized retail theft is committed when a group of individuals knowingly commits retail theft in one or more retail establishments.

Other felony classifications for more severe shoplifting offenses include:

  • Class 1 Felony: For theft of property valued between $10,000 and $100,000.

  • Class X Felony: For stolen property exceeding $100,000. This category involves more severe penalties due to the high value of the stolen goods.

For further insights, refer to the Illinois Compiled Statutes, which extensively detail these classifications and penalties .

Consequences of Shoplifting Charges

Shoplifting charges in Illinois carry substantial consequences, which vary based on the value of the stolen goods and prior offenses. Our laws categorize theft offenses to establish varying degrees of penalties.

For theft of items valued under $300, the first offense is classified as a Class A misdemeanor. This can result in up to 364 days in jail and a $2,500 fine. Repeat offenders face stricter penalties, even for items of similar value.

A subsequent offense for theft under $300 can escalate to a Class 4 felony. This felony conviction may lead to 1-3 years in prison, along with fines up to $25,000.

Apart from criminal punishment, retail merchants may also pursue civil penalties against those accused of shoplifting. These could involve restitution for losses and additional damages, often pursued through civil court. The Illinois Department of Corrections plays a significant role in managing sentencing for these offenses.

Civil penalties often impose obligations beyond those of criminal penalties. Defendants could be liable for the value of the stolen retail goods and possibly face additional monetary damages as well as attorney’s fees. These civil liabilities underscore the financial consequences extending beyond criminal court outcomes. Understanding retail theft and avoiding legal consequences can be more manageable with support from a Chicago shoplifting defense lawyer.

Defending Against Shoplifting Charges

When facing shoplifting charges in Illinois, building a robust defense is essential. Accusations can arise from misunderstandings or mistakes. Establishing a strong defense strategy can help in these situations.

Some common defenses include:

  1. Mistaken Identity: The store personnel or surveillance footage may have wrongly identified a person as the wrongdoer.

  2. Lack of Intent: Proving criminal intent to steal is crucial for the prosecution. We can counter this by demonstrating a lack of intent. For example, absent-minded behavior, such as forgetting to pay, could be mistaken for theft.

  3. Deceptive Practices: We can prove false accusations based on deceptive store policies.

  4. Accidental removal of theft detection device: We can challenge this by examining if the device was functioning correctly and if the removal was accidental or mischievous.

  5. Unlawful Use of a Credit Card: Demonstrating authorized use or identifying errors in transaction records can be effective defenses.

  6. Misunderstanding and Deception: We may argue that the defendant had unauthorized control over the property through misunderstanding or deception by store policies or practices.

  7. Permissive Inference and Indicia of Value: When the trier of fact uses permissive inference, presenting evidence to refute these assumptions is vital. Questioning the indicia of the value of the items taken plays a role here.

Retail Theft by Lessee

Cases involving a lessee not returning rented items can also constitute shoplifting. Proving intentions to return items or errors in rental agreements can serve as defenses.

In cases where threats or force are alleged, showing witness testimonies and surveillance footage contradicting these claims can be pivotal.

Building a strong case involves thorough investigation and strategic defense planning, ensuring every aspect is scrutinized to present a compelling argument.

How Hirsch Law Group Can Help

When facing shoplifting charges in Illinois, having an experienced legal team is crucial. At Hirsch Law Group, we persevere to defend clients against theft-related accusations, ensuring their rights are protected throughout the legal process.

Our criminal defense attorneys are skilled at navigating the complexities of Illinois shoplifting laws. Whether it’s a first-time offense or a repeated charge, we provide guidance and support from start to finish to avoid a shoplifting conviction or minimize charges.

We handle a wide range of theft-related cases, including robbery, burglary, identity theft, and home invasion. With an understanding that each case is unique, our attorneys tailor their approach to the specific circumstances of your situation.

In addition, our services include strategies to minimize penalties, such as negotiating for probation instead of imprisonment. We can also assist clients in getting their criminal record expunged to avoid long-term consequences.

In cases where restitution is required, we work to negotiate the terms to ensure our clients can meet their obligations without undue hardship.

By partnering with a Chicago property crimes attorney from our firm, clients can mount a robust defense against charges like possession of burglary tools or residential burglary.

Contact Hirsch Law Group

If you’re facing shoplifting charges in Illinois, securing experienced legal representation is crucial. The Hirsch Law Group offers comprehensive legal support. Founded by Gordon H. Hirsch, our team handles a variety of criminal and civil suit.

We provide a free initial consultation to discuss your case. This helps us understand your situation and offer the most suitable legal advice. Whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony, we have the knowledge and skills to navigate the complexities of Illinois laws on shoplifting and theft.

Our attorneys are seasoned professionals with years of experience. We tackle each case with diligence and a deep understanding of the legal system. Gordon H. Hirsch, our managing attorney, is a former prosecutor who now focuses exclusively on defense. Contact us today, and let us assist you with your legal needs efficiently and effectively.