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Retail Theft Carries Real Consequences

February 11th, 2015 at 8:04 am

shoplift, Illinois defense lawyer, Cook County criminal attorney,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.

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