Don’t Let a Retail Theft Charge in Chicago Ruin Your Life
The Illinois criminal justice system uses the serious-sounding term “retail theft” (720 ILCS 5/16-25) to describe shoplifting because our state takes shoplifting very seriously. While you might view shoplifting as a one-time mistake that didn’t hurt anyone, Illinois courts often come down on the side of the retailer, and you could face fines, jail time, and a tarnished reputation if you’re convicted. A person convicted of misdemeanor retail theft can face up to 364 days in county jail and a fine of up to $2,500 plus court costs. A felony retail theft can carry up to 3 years in prison with a fine of up to $25,000 plus court costs. This does not have to happen to you or a loved one. Hiring an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney can help you avoid harsh consequences and allow you to walk away with a clean record.
If you have or a loved one has been arrested for retail theft in Chicago or Cook County, you are not alone. Shoplifting is one of the most common criminal charges in Illinois. Many people are surprised to learn that shoplifting is not a crime limited to those that are impoverished and cannot afford the items that are stolen. Many individuals charged with retail theft can easily afford the items taken but are simply acting on an impulse, compulsion or as a result of extreme stress or even mental illness. Most clients we represent in our practice for retail theft are not “thieves” or bad people. Most are good people who made a poor decision and immediately felt shame and regret. In nearly all cases of retail theft, we have been able to help the client get the case dismissed and expunged from their records. Even if you were caught in the act, we can help you clear your record and restore your good name.
A retail theft conviction is also a matter of public record, meaning that you could have difficulty obtaining housing, finding a job, getting into educational programs, or joining any organization that requires a background check. These are obviously consequences that you want to avoid if at all possible, and to give yourself the best chance of avoiding a conviction, you’ll need to work with an experienced retail theft attorney.
Andrew M. Weisberg has years of experience as a Chicago defense attorney, and he has obtained positive outcomes in retail theft cases just like the one you’re currently facing. When you retain him, you get a criminal lawyer who will provide you with the non-judgmental treatment and aggressive defense that you need during this difficult time. Mr. Weisberg uses his knowledge as a former prosecutor to help you obtain the best possible result on your case. Do not waste time beating yourself up over your arrest for retail theft. Contact Andrew Weisberg today so that he can walk you through his plan to get you the best possible outcome for your case.
Andrew M. Weisberg Helps You Understand and Navigate Shoplifting Charges
When most people think of shoplifting, they think of someone sneaking an unpurchased item out of a store with no intention of paying. This is certainly one type of retail theft, a crime that is described in Illinois law as taking possession of, carrying away, or transferring any merchandise “with the intention of retaining such merchandise or with the intention of depriving the merchant permanently of the possession.” However, there are other types of actions that could result in a retail theft charge, some of which might surprise you. These include:
- Altering or removing price tags: It is illegal to tamper with price tags, e.g. switching price tags so that you are able to purchase merchandise at less than its retail value.
- Transferring merchandise to a container with the intention of theft: This might include hiding merchandise inside of a larger purchased item to avoid paying for it.
- Under-ringing: It’s not just shoppers who can be charged with retail theft; it’s a crime for a cashier or other employee to under-ring merchandise with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value.
- Removing a shopping cart from the premises: Although it might seem harmless, taking a shopping cart off a merchant’s premises without express permission is considered retail theft.
- Using theft detection devices: If you’re caught with devices that could be used to sneak merchandise through security without triggering an alarm, that device could be used as evidence against you.
- Obtaining unauthorized control over the property in order to permanently deprive the owner of its use: For example, if you signed a lease to rent a new car but then drove off and never made any payments, you would face a very serious criminal charge.
The charges you face will be determined by the specific circumstances of your case and the retail value of the items you allegedly stole. In Illinois, retail theft is generally considered a misdemeanor if the total retail value of the allegedly stolen merchandise is under $300 and a felony if it’s over that amount. The law may be very specific but the reality in court is not so clear-cut. Prosecutors in Cook County and other jurisdictions have great discretion in whether to pursue a felony charge, even where the law would suggest a felony. This is why it is important that if you are arrested for retail theft or any other crime, that you contact the best criminal lawyer you can find. No matter what the circumstances or the specific charges brought against you, Andrew M. Weisberg is prepared to provide the best possible defense in your retail theft case.
Weisberg Fights to Have Illinois Retail Theft Charges Reduced or Dropped
While retail theft is considered a felony if the value of the merchandise is over $300, it is not mandatory for the State’s Attorney in Chicago to charge an individual with a felony. Most prosecutors will recognize that a sentence of 1-3 years in prison is disproportionate to the crime of retail theft, but you shouldn’t necessarily count on the prosecution going easy on you. The prosecutor has the option of reducing the charge, but that doesn’t mean they will. You need an experienced criminal attorney on your side to give you the best chance at getting your retail theft charge reduced to a misdemeanor or, in some cases, dropped altogether.
As a former prosecutor himself, Andrew M. Weisberg understands the prosecution’s line of thought and has extensive experience negotiating with prosecutors in retail theft cases. You will be able to benefit from his insider knowledge, as it were, in regards to the prosecution’s tactics and arguments. He will work to show the court that a hefty fine or a prison sentence is a disproportionate and ultimately unproductive punishment and, if he is unable to get the charges dropped altogether, he will fight for a less severe sentence.
In recent years, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has been offering what are referred to as pre-trial diversion or deferred prosecution programs. These are programs generally offered to non-violent offenders with relatively clean records on cases like retail theft. In these instances, the alleged offender can avoid a conviction by simply performing community service or taking a class or a couple of counseling sessions. In cases like this, after completing the required tasks, the charges are dropped and the person can then have the record expunged or cleared. The prosecutor has the discretion in most cases to offer such a program but you need a lawyer that understands what programs may be available and how to convince the prosecutor to offer such a program for their client. Andrew Weisberg has helped hundreds of clients get their cases dismissed through alternative programs that other lawyers are unaware of. Why plead guilty, pay fines and suffer the consequences of a criminal conviction when you can have your charges dismissed? Contact Mr. Weisberg today to discuss the best way to clear your record and move on with your life.
No matter what approach Andrew M. Weisberg takes, he will keep you informed of your case’s progress every step of the way and treat you with the dignity that you deserve.
When You Need an Experienced Chicago Theft Attorney, Call Weisberg
Facing a retail theft charge that could affect the rest of your life is understandably stressful, and you might be tempted to choose the first defense attorney you come across. However, your choice of lawyer can have a huge impact on the outcome of your case, and you need to be sure that you’re working with a well-qualified retail theft attorney who has a record of success in cases just like yours. With his years of experience as both a Chicago prosecutor and defense attorney, Andrew M. Weisberg is your best bet for a positive outcome in your case.
If you would like to reach Mr. Weisberg quickly and directly, please call his cell phone 24/7 at (773) 908-9811, or fill out the case review form on our website. You will be able to schedule a free initial consultation, during which Mr. Weisberg will listen to the details of your case and advise you as to your best course of legal action. If you choose to retain Mr. Weisberg at this point, he will begin diligently working to prepare the strongest possible defense for your retail theft case.