The Jordan Law Firm aggressively represents clients facing all types of criminal, DUI, and traffic cases, including cases where a person is charged with retail theft. Retail theft, more commonly referred to as shoplifting, is a common crime that can start somewhat innocently, like the proverbial child stealing a candy bar. Unfortunately, it can often escalate, and retail theft is a major problem in the United States, in large part, due to the pervasive income disparity and challenging economic conditions that many in the Chicago metropolitan area face on a daily basis.
If you’ve been accused of retail theft in Waukegan or any of the surrounding communities, attorney Anisa Jordan can help. As an experienced Waukegan retail theft attorney who formerly served as a prosecutor, Anisa possesses unique experience handling retail theft cases from both sides. This provides her with valuable insight and the ability to understand the common themes and strategies used by prosecutors to obtain a conviction. By anticipating the state’s case, she can better create a compelling defense to the charges you face.
What Is Retail Theft?
The crime of retail theft covers a wide variety of shoplifting offenses. Under 720 ILCS 5/16-25, the following all constitute retail theft:
- Removing merchandise from a retail store with the intent of not returning it;
- Altering or transferring price tags with the intent to pay less than retail value;
- Transferring an item from its original container into another container with the intent to avoid paying full price;
- Ringing up an item for less than retail price, with the intent of keeping the difference;
- Removing a shopping cart from a store’s property; and
- Returning an item that was not purchased.
Thus, if you were arrested for anything related to taking property from a store or an attempt to pay less than full value for an item, you are likely facing retail theft charges. While these crimes may seem minor, they are anything but. A retail theft conviction can carry significant criminal penalties that can impact the rest of your life.
How the Prosecution Proves a Retail Theft Crime
To prove someone guilty of retail theft, the prosecution must show that the person knowingly committed the offense. Thus, in theory, if you made an honest mistake and walked out of the store without paying for something, you are not guilty of retail theft because you didn’t intend to steal.
However, Illinois lawmakers are privy to the various ways people steal from stores and allow the prosecution to rely on certain inferences to help prove their case. For example, if you conceal items and walk past the last cash register, the judge or jury can—but is not required to—infer that you did so with the intention to steal the items. In these situations, the burden can shift to you to prove that you had honest intentions, making defending against the charges more difficult. A Waukegan retail theft lawyer can help you understand what the prosecution needs to prove and work with you to develop a compelling defense to whatever charges you face.
Retail Theft Penalties
Like other criminal issues, there are several levels of retail theft.
The seriousness of a Waukegan retail theft crime depends primarily on the value of the item or items, as well as whether you have a prior record of retail theft convictions.
Class A Misdemeanor Retail Theft
Courts grade retail theft as a Class A misdemeanor if the value of the item or items is less than $300.
Class 4 Felony Retail Theft
Retail theft is a Class 4 felony if the amount in question is less than $300, but the person allegedly committing the theft has a prior retail theft conviction, or another qualifying conviction, such as robbery, burglary, fraud, or unlawful use of a credit card.
Class 3 Felony Retail Theft
Retail theft is considered a Class 3 Felony if the amount of the item or items in question exceeds $300.
Regardless of the nature of the allegations, there is hope in your case. You should consider hiring an experienced criminal charges lawyer to get the best outcome possible. You have only one life and one record. So, although it costs a bit more to hire a serious professional lawyer who knows the Chicago court system, your future is worth it.
Reach Out to a Dedicated Waukegan Retail Theft Attorney to Schedule a Free Consultation
If you face retail theft charges, you could be confronting serious criminal penalties that will interfere with your ability to live your life the way you want to. However, you have options; not every arrest results in a conviction, and with the assistance of a Waukegan retail theft lawyer, you may be able to beat the charge or minimize the impact it has on your future. To learn more about the services we provide, contact Anisa Jordan at The Jordan Law Firm by calling (312) 380-9221 for a free consultation. You can also reach us through our online form. Anisa has a hard-earned reputation of caring for people and their lives – not just as clients, but as people. Just check out our reviews on Facebook, Google, or AVVO.