Illinois Legislation Aims to Raise Bar on Felony Theft

Illinois lawmakers want to raise standard for felony theft convictionsIllinois has set a goal of reducing its prison population by 25 percent by 2025. One way experts have targeted to reach that goal is by reducing the number of theft convictions that qualify as felonies.

According to current Illinois law:

  • A first-time offense of theft of property (not from a person) valued at less than $500 is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by less than a year in prison and a fine of as much as $2,500. Any subsequent offense of less than $500 is a Class 4 Felony, punishable by one to three years in prison and a fine of as much as $25,000.
  • Any theft of property (not from a person) of $500 or more is a Class 3 Felony, punishable by two to five years in prison and a fine of as much as $25,000.
  • A first-time retail theft offense of a value less than $300 is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by less than a year in prison and a fine of as much as $2,500. Any subsequent offense of less than $300 is a Class 4 Felony, punishable by one to three years in prison and a fine of as much as $25,000.
  • Any retail theft offense of $300 or more is a Class 3 Felony, punishable by two to five years in prison and a fine of as much as $25,000.
  • Any retail theft offense that includes using the emergency exit on the property can increase the severity of the charges. A first-time offense of less than $300 can become a Class 4 Felony. An offense of $300 or more can become a Class 2 Felony, punishable by three to seven years in prison.

The Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing said in a December 2016 report said the monetary threshold for a felony conviction is too low, causing too many non-violent offenders to be sentenced to prison.

In response to the report, one bill has already been proposed in the Illinois House of Representatives that would amend the laws:

  • Theft of property (not from a person) and retail theft must be of a value of at least $2,000 to be a Class 3 Felony.
  • A subsequent theft offense of less than $2,000 can only be Class 4 Felony if the previous offense was a felony.

Defense Against Theft Charges

Regardless of whether Illinois changes its laws, those charged with theft need an experienced attorney to defend them. Call the Naperville theft defense attorneys of Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC at 630-232-1780.

Sources:

http://www.icjia.org/cjreform2015/pdf/CJSR_Final_Report_Dec_2016.pdf

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=3337&GAID=14&DocTypeID=HB&SessionID=91&GA=100

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