Shoplifting Consequences in Chicago

Shoplifting in Chicago

If you have an urge to take merchandise that does not belong to you while shopping in a Chicago store, you better not. It would be wise to rethink that idea and put the item back on the shelf. Retail theft is an attempt to take something from a store without paying for it. The crime may seem innocent, but it can cause huge problems for those convicted.

In the state of Illinois, shoplifting can result in felony charges. You need to speak with a criminal defense attorney immediately if you are facing shoplifting accusations. In Illinois, many different behaviors can lead to a retail theft charge or conviction, such as intentionally having, transporting, or taking merchandise from a retailer without purchasing it according to the determined price designed by the owner.  In fact there are so many different ways a person can be charged with retail theft in Chicago and Illinois that it is imperative to speak with a criminal defense attorney if you are a loved one is accused of shoplifting. 

The Changing Face of Retail Theft

When it comes to shoplifting, it is not just the 17-year-old kids stealing DVDs from a local retailer shelf anymore. Organized crews are now forming across the state that involve several people with a goal to steal large volumes of merchandise. Crews often travel from one shopping center to another. They often operate across state lines, too. According to the National Retail Federation, 96% of US merchandisers have been impacted by a professional shoplifting crew. The Windy City is one of the top destinations for organized retail thieves.

In 2011, Illinois law, HB6460, expanded to include organized retail theft. The law affects the growing ring of thieves who steal property and resell it for profit. The statute makes stealing three or more times in a one-and-a-half-year period a class X felony. Offenders can now face six to 30 years in prison without probation. The prosecution can come after the assets of the offender, and retailers may send convicted shoplifters a civil demand letter requiring them to reimburse the establishment.

Consequences and Penalties for Retail Theft

The penalties for retail theft vary according to the amount stolen during the crime, as well your previous background. If the stolen merchandise was $300 or less, an individual will receive a Class A misdemeanor and could receive one year in jail and fines up to $2,500. When the stolen merchandise is worth more than $300, then the alleged offender can be charged with a Class 4 felony and may serve up to three years in prison and pay fines up to $25,000. If the prosecution alleges that the offender took stolen items through a store emergency exit, it is a Class 4 felony. A second offense can lead to a Class 3 felony with the possibility of serving up to five years in prison.

In most cases, a conviction for retail theft cannot be expunged from your record, and it is a permanent blemish that may affect future job and educational prospects, state or federal benefits, and other important aspects of your life.

A shoplifting charge does not always have to result in a conviction. One can challenge a shoplifting accusation with an effective defense strategy that can show that the retailer made a mistake or the prosecution just doesn’t have enough evidence.  In other cases, you may be eligible for a deferred prosecution or you may be eligible to receive court supervision, which is not a conviction. Therefore, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who can create a strong defense to help you. If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with shoplifting, contact The Jordan Law Firm right away for a free 3o minute consultation.