Shoplifting Charges Carry Heavy Penalties
In Illinois, the legal term for shoplifting is “retail theft.” Charges of retail theft are frequently prosecuted, especially when the economy is weak and jobs are difficult to find.
Retail theft laws are also very much on the side of retailers, and some retail stores in Illinois are known for aggressively seeking the severest possible charges for shoplifting. If you have been arrested for retail theft of any kind — felony or misdemeanor — contact The Law Office of Jessica Koester, LLC, as soon as possible. Our founding criminal defense attorney Jessica Koester has a record of success in developing legal strategies for protecting the rights and future of individuals accused of theft crimes.
Illinois Retail Theft Laws
Retail theft takes many forms. In general, you can be charged with retail theft if you knowingly and unlawfully take property from a retail store with the intent to deprive the store of the property.
Examples of retail theft include:
- Leaving a store with an item without paying the full retail price for it
- Swapping price tags
- Employee theft of merchandise
- Employee under-ringing, which involves a cashier who rings in an item for an amount lower than the listed price, collects the full amount and keeps the remainder
- Unlawfully giving discounts or free merchandise to friends or family without store authorization
As with other property crimes, the penalties for retail theft are based largely on the value of the property in question. In Illinois, if the retail property is valued at less than $300, the offense is usually charged as a misdemeanor. If the value of the property is more than $300, the offense is usually charged as a felony.
Misdemeanor retail theft is punishable by up to one year in prison and fine of up to $2,500. Felony retail theft is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Aggravating factors such as prior convictions for shoplifting can also increase what would otherwise be a misdemeanor charge to a felony charge.
Defending Against Retail Theft Charges
In many retail theft cases, multiple kinds of evidence must be considered, including police reports, eyewitness testimony, surveillance video, exit scanner records, receipts and testimony from the accused. At The Law Office of Jessica Koester, LLC, we conduct a thorough analysis of the evidence to determine whether it is admissible in court, and we aggressively protect the rights and future of clients.
By exploring every available option to have the charge reduced or dismissed, we place the burden of proof squarely on the prosecution. Our skill in tenacity in the courtroom has often resulted in positive outcomes for the individuals we represent.