If you are accused of shoplifting in Illinois, you need to know what actually constitutes a charge in order to know how to fight back effectively.
Illinois Retail Theft: Acts that Count as Shoplifting
In Illinois, you can face criminal charges for taking, possessing, carrying, or transferring any retail merchandise with an intent to deprive the retailer of the merchandise’s full value. Under the Illinois statutes, the following acts could get you arrested for shoplifting.
Price Tag Alterations
If you remove, transfer, or alter a price tag, shoplifting charges may apply.
You cannot lawfully change merchandise from one container to another.
Illinois law does not permit someone to cause a cash register to reflect less than the full value of the merchandise.
You are prohibited from misrepresenting ownership of any property to a retailer.
Use of Theft Shielding Device
The use or possession of any device that deters theft detection is a criminal act.
If you attempt to conceal merchandise, you can face shoplifting charges.
Removal of Merchandise
You are not permitted to remove merchandise from a store without payment.
Theft by Emergency Exit
If you shoplift items and leave the store by an emergency exit, your charge will be raised from a misdemeanor to a felony under Illinois law.
Removal of Shopping Cart
Yes, you can face charges for removing a shopping cart from a retailer’s property without express consent.
Penalties for Shoplifting in Illinois
If you are convicted for shoplifting in Illinois, you could potentially face these penalties based on the total value of the merchandise.
This is a Class A misdemeanor offense which could result in up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. The charge will be raised to a Class 4 felony if committed by use of an emergency exit. Repeat offenses will also be raised to Class 4 felony charges. A conviction will result in between one and three years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
This is a Class 3 felony which could result in between two and five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. The charge will be raised to a Class 2 felony if committed by use of an emergency exit. The penalties will then be three to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
Defenses to Illinois Shoplifting Charges
A skilled Chicago criminal lawyer can help you fight your charges with the best defensive strategy for your case. These are some of the strategies that may work to get your charges reduced or dismissed.
Lack of intent
You can use this defense if you thought the item belonged to you or if it was mistakenly placed in your cart, bag, or purse.
Lack of evidence
If the prosecution cannot produce enough evidence to prove that you committed shoplifting, your charges could be dropped.
Some people suffer from a disease called kleptomania, which causes people to compulsively take items. In this case, you may be admitted to rehabilitation rather than serving a prison sentence.
Other defenses may be available to you depending on the specifics of your situation. Knowing how to fight back starts with understanding exactly what you’re being accused of doing.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes.