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Retail Theft: First-Time Offender Information

September 4th, 2014 at 7:37 am

first-time offender, Illinois criminal defense attorney, Class A misdemeanor, theft, 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.

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