If you’re like many people accused of retail theft under $150, you have a lot of questions – and one of them is probably about whether you’re going to go to jail.
Here’s what you need to know.
Illinois Retail Theft Under $150: Will You Go to Jail?
In Illinois, if you’re charged with retail theft under $150, you’re facing misdemeanor charges. In fact, if the value of the property you’re accused of taking is under $300, it’s a misdemeanor – it’s only when that figure goes higher that it becomes a felony. (Illinois law used to use $150 as the benchmark between a misdemeanor and a felony, but the law has been updated and is now $300.)
However, if you have a theft-related prior offense, your charge will be a Class 4 felony. That’s true whether the charge was related to robbery, armed robbery, residential burglary or even possession of burglary tools.
You can still go to jail if you’re convicted of a misdemeanor. In fact, if you’re convicted of a Class A misdemeanor, you can go to jail for up to a year and pay up to $2,500 in fines.
Related: Class A misdemeanors in Illinois
Types of Retail Theft
Retail theft is a big term that covers many types of crimes – not just shoplifting, which is what many people assume. The term includes things like:
- Shoplifting, such as taking something from a store in your bag or under your clothing without paying for it
- Changing price tags on items before attempting to purchase them
- Under-ringing a customer so they do not have to pay full retail price for items
- Unlawfully applying discounts or charging people for items that cost less with the intent to deprive the retailer of profits
- Making false returns of items in exchange for a cash refund
- Keeping property after the expiration of the lease, such as rental furniture or appliances
What if You Had Multiple Items, Each Valued Less Than $300?
If you were caught with multiple items, each valuing less than $300 on their own, you could still be facing a felony. If the items’ value, when added together, is over $300, the state can charge you with a felony.
What About Theft by Emergency Exit?
If you leave a store with stolen goods and you take an emergency exit to get out, it’s a felony – even if it’s your first offense, and even if what you stole has a value well below the felony threshold. It doesn’t matter what you took – it only matters that you used the emergency exit, which makes the crime a Class 4 felony on your first offense, and a Class 3 felony on your second or subsequent offense. You can also expect to be charged with retail theft for the value of the items you stole, as well.
What if You Get a Letter in the Mail Demanding Payment?
Illinois law allows retailers to collect up to $1,000 in civil penalties – in addition to the value of the goods taken – plus legal fees. The letters often include threats to sue, and they say that if you pay a certain amount, the retailer won’t sue you.
You can pay the amount, but don’t expect that to be the end of your case. That has nothing to do with the criminal side – it’s on the civil side.
If you receive a letter like this, you should tell your attorney and ask him what to do next.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Retail Theft Under $150?
Although retail theft under $150 is a misdemeanor, it’s something that goes on your permanent criminal record. You should consult with an attorney to get legal advice – so call us at 847-920-4540 right now, or fill out the form below. We may be able to help you.