Tag Archives: retail theft

St. Charles theft charges defense attorney

One of the most common criminal offenses committed by otherwise law-abiding citizens is retail theft or shoplifting. It is estimated that approximately 1 out of every 11 individuals in the United States has shoplifted at some point in their lives. Many people justify stealing items from a retail store by stating that it is a victimless act or that it is not an actual “crime.” However, shoplifting is considered a serious criminal offense in Illinois. A person convicted of retail theft may be subject to a range of criminal penalties, including potential jail time. If you or a loved one has been charged with shoplifting, do not take these charges lightly. Talk to a criminal defense attorney experienced in theft cases to receive the legal help you need.

What Is Shoplifting?

Shoplifting is typically thought of as taking an item from a store and then simply leaving the store without paying for it. This is the most straightforward way to avoid paying for an item. Often, a person may conceal the item in his or her clothing, purse, backpack, or bag, and they may then quickly walk out of the store. However, there are many other ways that shoplifters steal from retail stores. Some people remove price tags from expensive items and replace them with price tags from lower priced items. Others work with a store employee to get away with not paying for items. For example, a cashier may allow a friend to steal from the store by intentionally failing to ring up certain items during checkout.

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Geneva shoplifting defense attorneyShoplifting, the act of stealing from a retailer, is also known as retail theft. Like many other offenses, shoplifting is a serious criminal charge. Although the penalties for a shoplifting conviction are often not as steep as they are for other theft convictions, it is always worth your time to fight a shoplifting charge, because being convicted of shoplifting will subject you to certain civil and criminal penalties. In addition, a conviction on your criminal record can impact the potential penalties for any future charges that you may face. 

If you are facing a shoplifting charge, you should start working on your legal defense strategy with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The defense strategy you create will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. Below are a few potential strategies you may be able to use when you are facing a shoplifting charge:

It Was an Innocent Mistake

People make mistakes. You might accidentally walk out of a store without paying for an item because you were distracted or because the item was nestled among other items you paid for. Your defense strategy could involve demonstrating that you did not intentionally take an item without paying for it, or at least showing that there is not enough evidence to show you intentionally stole the item.

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St. Charles retail theft defense lawyerYou might think that only law enforcement has the right to detain individuals suspected of criminal acts. This is actually untrue. Shopkeeper’s privilege is a store owner’s legal right to detain you for a reasonable amount of time, question you, and call law enforcement to potentially make an arrest if he or she suspects that you have committed a criminal offense, such as shoplifting, in the store. 

Although a store owner or employee may detain and question you in this situation, they do not have the same authority as law enforcement. When you are held for longer than is appropriate for the situation, you may have grounds for a false imprisonment claim against the store owner.

When Can a Shopkeeper or Security Guard Detain Me?

You may only be legally detained in a store when the following circumstances occur:

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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.

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Shoplifting Under Illinois LawShoplifting, or what is commonly referred to as retail theft, occurs when you take something that does not belong to you from a store or other type of business. While it may seem minor in nature, it is a negative mark on your criminal history that you may have to disclose to prospective employers. The reality is that any criminal conviction involving theft or deception will only have negative repercussions for you, your family, and your future. Fortunately, with the help of experienced Illinois criminal defense lawyers, you may be able to avoid a negative result.

Defining Retail Theft Under Illinois Law

Retail theft can take a number of forms, but always involves an individual who takes something from a retailer that does not belong to him or her. Some common examples of retail theft are as follows:

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