Archive for the ‘Shoplifting’ Category
December 7th, 2016 at 8:57 am
During the holiday season there is a noticeable spike in the instances of retail theft. For whatever reason, people are more likely to shoplift in November and December than at any other time of the year. A higher rate of foot traffic in stores around the holidays makes it easier to commit retail theft. Moreover, there are a lot of pressures placed on people this time of the year, which can drive them to committing an act of shoplifting.
According to MarketWatch, the most commonly stolen items around the holidays in the United States include:
- Electronics and electronics accessories, such as cell phone cases, headphones, etc.;
- Winter or leather clothing;
- Meat, seafood, alcohol and chocolates;
- Children’s toys; and
- Perfume or cologne.
Ultimately, many of these items, such as electronics and electronic accessories, leather clothing, and some children’s toys, can be greatly valued. It is not uncommon for electronics to cost hundreds of dollars, which might be part of the reason why someone would steal these items from a store in the first place.
What is Felony Retail Theft in Illinois?
In regards to retail theft in Illinois, the severity of the crime depends on the value of the item, or collection of items, that is stolen. According to 720 ILCS 5/16-25, stealing an item from a store that is valued at more than $300 puts you at risk of being charged and convicted of felony retail theft. Simply stealing a cell phone, a handheld video gaming device, or an Apple product, would be valued high enough to charge you with a felony level offense.
Shoplifting can result in serious consequences. You will face jail time, be charged with a fine, and will have a criminal record that will follow you around for many years—a record in which future employers and landlords will likely find in a background check. Moreover, the consequences of getting caught shoplifting will also affect your family and loved ones, since they will need to help you through your arrest, trial, and possibly your jail sentence. The consequences extend even further than that as well. In order to make up for losses resulting from retail theft, retailers often markup the cost of items that they sell, which means that all customers have to pay higher prices.
Contact Us for Help with Your Case
Getting caught shoplifting can ruin your holidays. Not only will you be arrested and charged with a crime, but your family will also have to deal with the consequences of your actions, which can really dampen the holiday spirit. If you are facing shoplifting charges this holiday season, then you need to get in touch with an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
November 4th, 2016 at 7:00 am
Shoplifting is one of the most frequently committed theft crimes in Illinois. Shoplifting involves knowingly taking merchandise from a store without the intention of paying retail price for the item that is stolen. Shoplifting can take many forms, including taking physical possession of a retail item and removing it from a store without payment, altering or swapping out labels or price tags to get a desired retail item at a cheaper price, and swapping a retail item’s packaging for the packaging of another, less expensive item. If you have been charged with retail theft, regardless of whether it is a misdemeanor charge or a felony charge, you need to get in touch with an experienced retail theft criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
When Retail Theft Rises to the Level of a Felony
Many people who engage in retail theft do not think that the charges associated with their offense will be very serious. But this is a misconception. Even as a first-time offender, stealing something from a store that has a full retail value of more than $300 can result in a class 3 felony charge for retail theft.
Stealing something that is expensive, but small, leads to a felony level retail theft charge. It does not matter if the item is a phone, other electronics, jewelry, a watch, or designer sunglasses. If it costs more than $300, you will face felony level charges if you are caught stealing.
Felony Level Charges for Those With a Record of Theft-Related Offenses
Illinois law is stricter on those who commit retail theft and have already previously been convicted of any other form of theft. For instance, if someone who has been convicted of a theft crime in the past steals an item from a merchant that has a retail value of less than $300, he or she can be charged with felony retail theft, under 720 ILCS 5/16-25(f)(2). Similarly, second time offenders who get caught stealing retail merchandise by using a theft detection shielding device can be charged with a felony under 720 ILCS 5/16-25(f)(1). Or, second time offenders who get caught stealing retail merchandise by darting out an emergency exit door can be charged with a felony under 720 ILCS 5/16-25(f)(2).
Individuals who have a criminal history involving theft-related offenses, or who presently face retail theft charges, need to consult with an experienced attorney. Second-time theft offenders face a tough road when they are charged with retail theft and should not go down that road alone. An experienced criminal defense attorney will make sure that you are treated fairly under the law.
Let Us Help You With Your Retail Theft Charges
Retail theft charges are serious. Please do not delay and contact a skilled Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney for help.
April 25th, 2016 at 9:23 am
Illinois has one of the lowest felony theft monetary thresholds in the country. Stealing an item that is valued at $500 or more can land you a felony theft charge under 720 ILCS 5/16-1. While it makes sense that Illinois and law enforcement would want to take a firm stance on theft crimes, it makes less sense how seriously they take low-level theft offenses compared to other crimes and compared to how other states handle the same crime.
Stealing something small but valuable, such as a smartphone, watch, or piece of jewelry, could result in a felony theft charge in Illinois. However, only a misdemeanor charge would result in other states. While each state has the authority to define its criminal statutes the way that state legislatures see fit, felony charges for the theft of an item worth $501 is overkill, in the view of many individuals. When you are facing criminal charges for theft or retail theft, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
A recent article published by the Insider Online compared how different states handle felony theft, and analyzed what measures states, particularly Illinois, could take that could help state’s save on correction costs. The article called for reform to Illinois’s felony theft laws, largely because of how Illinois’ felony theft law seems to be lagging when compared to other states, and because Illinois does not regularly adjust the felony theft monetary thresholds to reflect inflation.
How Do Illinois’ Felony Theft Laws Stack Up to Other States?
This is not to say that the Illinois legislature had completely ignored felony theft. In 2010, the felony theft threshold was raised from $300 to $500. However, a $500 threshold is still remarkably low compared to some other states that have a felony theft threshold of $1,000, or even $2,500. Not only that, but by not taking inflation into account periodically, Illinois’ felony theft laws gradually become increasingly punitive over time as the value of the item increases due to inflation.
Addressing Victims’ Concerns With Theft Law Reforms
The article acknowledges citizens’ and victims’ concerns that raising the felony theft monetary amount would encourage criminals to steal more expensive items, and more frequently. But according to a study conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts, there is no notable correlation between increasing felony theft monetary limits and an increase in property-related theft crimes. In fact, theft crime activity overall has been on the decline over the past few decades, largely due to improvements in technology, such as security monitoring technology which discourages theft in the first place, that help law enforcement to identify and apprehend offenders quickly and efficiently.
Let Us Assist You Today
If you are facing misdemeanor or felony theft charges, or retail theft charges, you need the help of an experienced theft lawyer. Please contact a dedicated Rolling Meadows shoplifting attorney for assistance with your case. We can begin helping you immediately.
February 11th, 2016 at 7:00 am
There are so many employees who have taken things from their place of business, and think nothing of it. According to Fortune, retail workers in particular have a tendency to take things from their place of employment without permission. Similarly, thousands of office workers have taken office supplies home on an occasion or two—maybe some ink pens, printer paper, or ink cartridges. These are all forms of employee theft, and an employer could choose to press theft charges against the employee who stole items from work.
Why Do Employees Take Steal From Work?
There are a number of different reasons why workers steal from their job. Some workers feel mistreated by their bosses or management. They might feel like they deserved a promotion or raise and did not receive one when they should have. They might feel undercompensated for the work that they do, and thus feel entitled to a little something extra. They might take office supplies home for personal use, damaged merchandise that should be considered a loss, or products that could otherwise be sold to paying customers. Employees could also steal from the cash register—but this is a more blatant form of theft and the employee is more likely to get caught than if the employee steals other items that are less easily accounted. Shrinkage, or the mysterious disappearance of merchandise due to theft and damage, happens in every business, making it easier for workers to hide their theft.
When Employee Theft Occurs in Retail, It is a Form of Shoplifting
When retail employees steal merchandise from their place of employment, it is a form of shoplifting, or retail theft, for which they can be held accountable. Employees are well-equipped to commit such crimes since they know in detail the layout of the storefront, where security cameras are, how to circumvent security devices, etc. This knowledge makes it more difficult to catch the employee in the act, or to gather evidence that the theft has occurred and which employee did it.
However, employees do not necessarily just steal merchandise from their job for themselves. Some employees work in cahoots with a friend, partner, or colleague to commit retail theft. The employee could assist the partner in committing retail theft by:
- Informing the partner about how to avoid detection, i.e., where security cameras are, when security takes a break, how to remove a security device, etc.;
- Removing security tags on a particular piece of merchandise and hiding it in the store, so that the partner can steal the item;
- Ringing up an item for less than its retail value;
- Entering a fake price for an item; or
- Providing a refund that is not valid, or for an item that the store does not carry.
Employers work hard to identify sources of theft and fraud in their business, and when employees are responsible, employers will terminate the employee and likely press charges.
Let Us Assist You
Employees are just as likely as customers to be accused of retail theft. If you are facing shoplifting charges from your employer, or former employer, you need the help of an experienced retail theft lawyer. Please contact a Rolling Meadows shoplifting attorney immediately. Our attorneys are happy to help you today.
December 30th, 2015 at 10:18 am
The holiday season is a big time for accusations of shoplifting and retail theft to arise. Stores are packed with people, and purchase items might accidentally get placed in a purse, or might not get paid for. Retailers are on high alert and are extra accusatory this time of year, but when a person stands accused of stealing merchandise when they are innocent, it is a problem. Shoplifting under Illinois law is usually a misdemeanor offense, but when the value of the allegedly stolen item is more than $300 or the accused is a repeat offender, the charges can be upgraded to a felony. When you are facing shoplifting and retail theft charges, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help protect your rights.
Defense Strategies for Shoplifting Charges
When it comes to shoplifting charges, a criminal defense lawyer who normally handles shoplifting cases can help you identify the best defense strategy that is available to you. Some more common shoplifting criminal defense strategies involve the following:
- The Value of the Item Allegedly Stolen Does Not Support the Charges. The item that is allegedly stolen has a value, and charges, and thus punishments, are usually based on the value of the stolen item. When evidence exists that the item was in fact taken by the defendant, a good strategy is to argue that the charges are incorrect and should be downgraded to a lesser offense.
- Lack of Evidence to Support the Charges against the Defendant. If there is insufficient evidence that the defendant shoplifted, then the case against the defendant should be dropped at the preliminary hearing of grand jury phase of the case, if applicable. When there is no video evidence, or no witness that can positively identify you as the suspect, there is a strong possibility that the case will be dismissed for lack of evidence.
- Lack of Probable Cause. Many people who are accused of shoplifting are detained by store security, and their personal items are searched for the allegedly stolen merchandise. But in order to subject the accused to these invasions, the security officer or store representative must have probable cause that the accused committed shoplifting. This means that there must be some evidence that the defendant committed the crime.
Defending against Shoplifting Charges Is Important
A shoplifting conviction will go on your permanent criminal record and you will have to face the punishments associated with your crime. That is why it is so important to consider every aspect of the case and explore every defense strategy that is available to you.
Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley
Many people are accused of shoplifting. Retail theft could be accidental, or it could just be a mistake or a moment of poor judgement. Regardless of what the situation might be, if you are facing shoplifting charges, you need the help of an experienced retail theft lawyer. Please contact a skilled Rolling Meadows defense attorney at our office immediately. We are prepared to assist you with your case.
November 5th, 2015 at 8:49 pm
Many people do not realize that the crime of retail theft takes multiple different forms. For instance, retail theft under 720 ILCS 5/16-25 occurs whenever someone in Illinois knowingly:
- Takes something from a retailer without paying. The most typical form of retail theft involves taking an item from a retail establishment where the item was for sale, with the intent to keep the item, and thus deprive the store of the item, without paying for it.
- Changes or removes the price tag. Altering the price tag or labeling of an item so that it appears that the item costs less than it actually does, and then taking advantage of the misrepresentation to obtain the item for less than it costs, is a form of retail theft.
- Swaps Packaging. Taking one item out of its packaging, and placing it in the packaging of another, cheaper item, in order to pay the lower price, is a form of retail theft because the seller loses out on the full retail value of that mispackaged item.
- Under-rings an item. Some retailers allow customers to ring up their own items at checkout. If a person falsely rings up an item for a lower price than the retail value, it is a form of retail theft.
- Misrepresents that an item is his or her own property. If a person is confronted by store management or security for suspected shoplifting, and if the person misrepresents to their confronter that the item is actually theirs, when it is not, it is a form of retail theft. This includes misrepresentations such as returning an item for store credit that was never paid for in the first place.
- Removes an anti-theft device from an item, or uses a theft detection shielding device. It is impermissible to remove an anti-theft device or use a shielding device in order to remove an item from a retailer’s property without paying for it.
- Steals a shopping cart. Shopping carts belong to the retailer, and people are permitted to use them so long as they are not taken from the property.
- Takes possession of leased property but does not pay the rental value/full retail value for it. When you rent a place to live, the living space is often furnished with appliances, such as refrigerators, microwaves, etc. Taking these items upon move out, without paying for them is a form of retail theft because the rental property is a business.
Defending against Retail Theft Charges
What is important to note about retail theft crimes is that the person must commit the theft knowingly. There are a number of instances where a person might not know or realize that they are taking the property of another, or from a retailer. For instance, an item might accidentally fall into an open purse, or a child might playfully hide an item in a purse or jacket, not realizing or understanding that the item might not get paid for. There are instances where an item is placed in a compartment under the shopping cart and that item is forgotten during checkout. A person could also mistakenly ring up an item incorrectly by mistakenly entering a UPC code or bar code.
Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley
If you stand accused of retail theft and have been formally charged, you should contact an experienced theft attorney immediately. Please contact a Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney immediately. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847) 394-3200 for assistance.
February 11th, 2015 at 8:04 am
Many people think of shoplifting or retail theft as a relatively minor crime. In Illinois that is absolutely not the case. Shoplifting in Illinois will lead you in serious need of an experienced criminal defense attorney. In order to avoid finding yourself in that position, you should understand exactly what retail theft is and how it is punished in our state.
What is Retail Theft?
Generally speaking, what most of us call shoplifting is a type of retail theft. Illinois statute defines retail theft as one of the following actions:
- Takes merchandise with the intent of keeping it or depriving the merchant of it permanently without paying for the merchandise;
- Alters or removes a price tag or similar marking in an attempt to pay less for a piece of merchandise;
- Transfers merchandise from one container to another in an attempt to deprive the merchant of the full retail value of the merchandise;
- Under-rings merchandise with the intent to deny the merchant of the full retail value;
- Steals shopping carts;
- Knowingly lies to a merchant claiming that the person owns property so he or she can sell the property to a merchant;
- Uses or possesses theft detection shielding devices or theft detection device removers; or
- Keeps property that should have been returned by a lessee.
There is also an additional related crime called “theft by emergency exit” that involves using an emergency exit to commit retail theft.
What is the Punishment for Retail Theft?
Usually, for a first offense where the value of the property does not exceed $300 (or $150 if the property is motor fuel) the crime will be considered a Class A Misdemeanor. A second offense can be a Class 4 felony. The prior offense in these cases can be for a wide variety of stealing-related offenses. If the value of the property is greater than $300 then it is a Class 3 felony. Violations relating to the theft detection shielding devices or theft detection device removers are Class A misdemeanors for a first offense, but upon a second offense they can be a Class 4 felony. Theft by emergency exit is a Class 4 felony if the value of the property does not exceed $300. If the value of property is greater than $300 it becomes a Class 2 felony.
Each of these classes of crime is given a range of punishment under the Unified Code of Corrections. The misdemeanor sentences are less than one year in jail. The felonies can carry hefty prison terms, however. Class 4 felonies carry a term of one to three years in prison. Class 3 felonies carry a range of two to five years. The Class 2 felonies carry a range of three to seven years.
Call an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are charged with retail theft or any other type of criminal offense, you will need an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer. You should call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. When you call us at (847)394-3200 we can schedule an appointment to go over the facts of your case and figure out how we can best be of help.
September 4th, 2014 at 7:37 am
Being charged with the crime of retail theft in the state of Illinois is a serious matter. Not only can such charges have criminal penalties, but they can have consequences that can affect other areas of the offender’s life, as well. These consequences often include the ability to obtain employment, qualify for housing, and be approved for a loan, among other things. Taking all of this into account, it is clearly important to consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney for those who are charged with the crime of retail theft.
Grading of Charges
The severity of the charges an offender will face depends on both the value of the item or items stolen, as well as any prior criminal history of the defendant. The crime of retail theft can be graded as a misdemeanor or a felony, and the potential jail time and fines an offender may face varies with the severity of the charges. First-time offenders for retail theft, whose case does not exceed a value of $300, will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum jail term of one year and up to a $2,500 fine. If the value exceeds $300, the offense will be considered a Class 4 felony, even if it is just a first offense. Such a graded offense is punishable by a maximum jail term of three years and a fine of up to $25,000.
Those arrested for retail theft may have several options available to them by which to resolve their case. What options available, if any, are largely dependent on the specific facts and circumstances of each individual case. Some courses of action to consider, particularly for a first-time offender, include:
A supervisory sentence. This means that the defendant will be placed on a period of court supervision with certain conditions in place. If the offender abides by the terms and conditions of his or her supervision and is not arrested again, the charges may be dismissed.
First offender programs. This would include diversionary programs, as well as deferred prosecution. Through discussion and negotiations between the defense attorney and the prosecutor, an agreement may be able to be reached by which the charges are held open while the defendant completes certain classes or programs aimed at rehabilitation. With proof of the program’s completion, the prosecution may be willing to dismiss the charges. In addition to, or in lieu of, this type of program, an offender may be required to complete a certain amount of community service before the prosecution will agree to dismiss the case.
Plea bargaining. This is usually an option by which the defendant agrees to plead guilty to certain charges in exchange for a reduction in charges or a lighter sentence. Such agreements hinge on the discretion of the prosecutor, and must be approved by the judge before they become final.
Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know has been charged with the crime of retail theft or shoplifting, the experienced Illinois criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Christopher M. Cosley can assist you with your case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Cook County and the surrounding area.
October 30th, 2013 at 3:09 pm
Being accused of shoplifting can be a very embarrassing experience, and there’s a tendency to want to work with store managers or security personnel to clear the air. As an accused shoplifter, however, you have rights, too. If you have been accused of or charged with shoplifting, you could face penalties or fines, so contact a Chicago criminal defense attorney immediately.
Stores across Illinois, like Jewel-Osco, are serious about shoplifting and are taking measures to reduce occurrences. This chain has taken self-checkout stations away with a growing concern that people were not paying for their items. Sometimes, however, customers are accused of shoplifting when they did nothing wrong, being pressured to admit to a crime they never committed. Being accused of shoplifting is both stressful and humiliating, especially if you’re a regular shopper at the store.
A merchant must have probable cause to accuse you of shoplifting. They also must witness you select the item yourself, so if an employee spotted you holding something after you picked it up, this could be an important detail for your trial. An employee or witness must have constant visual view of you to establish probable cause. Finally, you have to actually leave the store premises before you can be approached about not paying for the items.
The use of excessive force by store merchants, employees, or security personnel could violate your rights. Many times, merchants will demand that you sit in a back room and sign a statement admitting to theft, but you need to speak with an attorney who understands the importance of details in your case. It’s important to know that some merchants in Illinois may even seek financial damages from you after the fact, yet another potential consequence of being accused. Working directly with an experienced Illinois criminal law attorney could be critical for your case and for your future.
May 19th, 2012 at 11:04 am
According to the Chicago Tribune, law enforcement officials executing a search warrant for guns in a West Side home found over $100,000 of stolen electronics and other goods, including computer software, bicycles, DJ equipment, construction equipment, and musical instruments. Police also found a handgun, three shotguns, and three rifles in the residence. As a result, 50-year-old homeowner Willie Sutton was arrested and charged with several counts of unlawful usage of a weapon and possession of firearms, failing to register firearms, failure to have a valid FOID card, and felony theft. The investigation was coordinated by the Chicago Police Department’s Narcotics Division, bureau of organized crime, and tactical officers
Police are currently displaying the stolen goods at the Chicago Police Department’s Austin District station and using the media in an attempt to have the public identify the owners of the obviously stolen goods. Alleged victims of the thefts are encouraged to contact the Chicago Police Department in order to view the stolen items.
Theft charges in the state of Illinois can be extremely serious, especially when the value of the items involved in the alleged theft is substantial. If you are convicted of theft, you could face jail time, fines, restitution, and other serious penalties. Additionally, you may have a permanent criminal history that you will have to disclose to employers for the rest of your life.
If you or a loved one has been accused of theft or a theft-related crime, you must contact a
Chicago area criminal defense attorney immediately so that you can prepare the best defense to these charges, and get the advice that will be crucial to you in this matter.