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How to Defend Against a Shoplifting Charge

October 6th, 2017 at 12:49 pm

Illinois criminal law, Rolling Meadows retail theft attorneys, shoplifting, shoplifting defendants, shoplifting defenseUnder Illinois law shoplifting (also commonly referred to as retail theft) occurs when someone knowingly steals goods from a retail establishment. While shoplifting in Illinois can be committed in any of the various ways enumerated under 720 ILCS 5/16-25, shoplifting most commonly occurs when someone:

  • Takes merchandise from a retail establishment without paying for it; or
  • Exchanges the packaging of one item with the packaging of a lower priced item in order to pay a lower price.

Commonly Asserted Defenses

Although every shoplifting defense must be tailored to suit the facts of the applicable case, many shoplifting cases contain similar facts and, therefore, shoplifting defendants often assert similar defenses. Commonly asserted shoplifting defenses include:

  • I did not intent to steal the merchandise: Intent is a key element that must be proven before a defendant can be convicted of shoplifting. In order to secure a shoplifting conviction in Illinois the prosecution must prove that the defendant knowingly stole. Therefore, if a defendant can prove that he or she accidentally walked out of the store with merchandise that did not belong to him or her, then his or her charge will be dismissed. Sometimes a defendant can prove that he or she did not intentionally take merchandise by producing evidence (usually via the store’s security cameras) showing that he or she was distracted by a phone call, text message, his or her crying child, etc. just before exiting the store.

A quick note about intent: It should be noted that under Illinois law a person can actually shoplift without physically leaving the store from which he or she stole. This is because a person can intend to shoplift and take an article of merchandise into his or her possession while still inside a store. For example, someone who knowingly slips a lipstick into his or her purse while in a store has shoplifted the lipstick if he or she intends to take the lipstick home without paying for it.

  • The person I was with stole, not me: When one person is caught shoplifting, it is common for anyone that he or she is with to also be detained by the store. This is because anyone who is found to have been working in concert with the person who did the actual shoplifting can also be charged with retail theft. In other words, if two people walk into a department store and one shoves clothing into a bag while the other keeps a lookout, then both individuals can be found guilty of shoplifting if they each had the requisite intent to steal. However, someone who was arrested after his or her friend was caught shoplifting can often argue that he or she was in no way acting in concert with his or her friend and that consequently only the friend broke the law.

Reach Out to Us Today for Help

If you have been charged with shoplifting or retail theft in Illinois contact The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced Rolling Meadows retail theft attorneys. We would be happy to discuss your legal options with you and, if you decide to retain our legal services, craft a defense tailor made to suit the facts of your case. A shoplifting conviction can negatively impact your life for years to come so take a step towards protecting your legal interests today and contact us.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=072000050K16-25

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Written by Staff Writer

October 6th, 2017 at 12:49 pm

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