What Are the Criminal Charges for Shoplifting in Illinois?

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.

Self-checkout systems have opened up a new avenue for shoplifting. People may place items in their bags without scanning them, ring up expensive items as lower priced items, or simply leave items in their cart without ever paying for them. Regardless of the method, if a person takes items from a store without paying the full retail price for those items, he or she may be charged with theft.

Criminal Penalties for Shoplifting

Penalties for shoplifting are determined by the monetary value of the stolen goods. If the stolen items are worth under $300, the offense is typically a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and fines of up to $2,500. If the value of the stolen items is greater than $300, the offense is a Class 3 felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. 

It is important to note that shoplifting can also result in civil penalties, depending on the circumstances of the incident. Illinois law allows a store owner to collect up to $1,000 in addition to the value of the stolen items from the shoplifter. Being convicted of shoplifting can also significantly impact an individual’s personal and professional reputation.

Contact a St. Charles Theft Defense Lawyer

A person convicted of shoplifting can face significant consequences and may even be sentenced to jail. If you or a loved one has been accused of stealing from a retail store, it is imperative that you have strong legal representation to avoid a conviction. At the Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC, our experienced Illinois criminal defense attorneys will work with you to reduce your charges or have them dismissed altogether. Call us today at 630-232-1780 to schedule your free and confidential consultation.