The laws in Illinois regarding retail theft have been significantly overhauled in the past several years. Most importantly, the penalties for retail theft have been dramatically increased.
The offense of retail theft is found under 720 ILCS 5/16-25. The statute states that a person is guilty of retail theft when he or she knowingly takes possession of any merchandise displayed or offered for sale in a retail establishment. The key here is intent: the accused must have the intention of permanently depriving the merchant of property without paying for it.
I recently had a client in my office who had been charged with felony retail theft. She had altered an item’s price tag by replacing it with that of an item with a lesser price tag. While she acknowledged her actions were unethical, she did not realize that she was in violation of the law and would have to answer to felony charges.
Despite the complexities of 720 ILCS 5/16-25, a retail theft case is still beatable in a court of law. I have defended numerous people who have unintentionally left a store without paying for merchandise. One woman simply forgot she had an item in her hand when she exited the store, while another man simply left an item in his grocery cart and strolled out of the store, with a cart full of purchased groceries and one item for which he did not pay.
A retail theft conviction can have a devastating impact on your life. Potential employers, college admissions counselors, and even vocational licensing boards often exclude those charged or convicted of a retail theft.
If you have been arrested for retail theft, it is imperative to resolve the case in a manner that does not impact the rest of your life. Do not let a retail theft conviction become a life sentence. Contact the Law Offices of M. Fakhoury for a free and confidential case review. (847) 920-4540