Shoplifting, called retail theft in Illinois, is a serious criminal offense that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony with a lasting impact. Penalties may include imprisonment, significant fines, probation and a criminal record. An experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney familiar with retail theft defense can help you fight these charges, challenge the evidence and give you options you may not have even considered.
What is Retail Theft?
Shoplifting and retail theft are essentially the same thing. Under Illinois law, retail theft is a theft crime generally referring to the theft of merchandise from a store or business, but includes more broad definitions you might not immediately recognize as retail theft. See the video for an explanation of different ways retail theft can be charged in the Chicago area even if you've never left the store.
Generally, the elements of retail theft include (1) knowingly taking and/or concealing goods without payment, (2) with the intention of keeping those goods without payment for any amount less than the seller's purchase price. While most people realize simply not paying is retail theft, the crime in Illinois includes price-tag switching.
Intentional possession or concealment of goods both in and outside of a retail establishment's premises can be a criminal offense in Illinois law. Retail theft and shoplifting can occur anywhere goods are sold - at a small boutique, a grocery store, a large chain store, a book store kiosk or vestibule, or at any other small or large business offering goods for sale.
Most often, shoplifting or retail theft is a class A misdemeanor offense. A defendant may face jail time if convicted, but the court may allow probation and/or community service in lieu of part or the entirety of the jail sentence, and in many cases, jail can be avoided. The specific penalties a defendant faces varies depending on the amount of property allegedly stolen, the defendant's past criminal record, and other factors. In some cases, court diversion programs exist which can result in a complete dismissal of the charge. A knowledgable Chicago criminal defense attorney like those at our firm can help assess your eligibility, and convince the prosecutor and Judge that you deserve the opportunity.
A defendant with a history of committing retail theft, or accused of taking property valued above a threshold amount faces felony retail theft charges, and the penalties in such cases are greater, including the possibility of prison.
Arrested for shoplifting in the Chicago area?
You need the best Chicago criminal lawyers available working on your behalf. You face an experienced lawyer that stands accusing you, a lawyer wearing robes judging you, and you need your own attorney standing up on your behalf.
We defend people facing retail theft misdemeanor and felony criminal charges throughout Cook, Lake and DuPage county Illinois. Call Fagan, Fagan & Davis now to schedule a confidential review of your case.