During the holidays—especially on Black Friday—Chicago police and those in the surrounding communities (such as Rolling Meadows and Skokie) make dozens of arrests for shoplifting.
But what are shoplifting charges, and what are the penalties if you’re caught doing it?
What is Shoplifting?
Shoplifting isn’t actually a legal term in Illinois. However, it refers to the crime of retail theft, which can be a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the value of the property that the alleged shoplifter took.
If you’re caught shoplifting, you could even be charged with other crimes at the same time, such as unlawful use or possession of a theft-detection shielding device, or unlawful possession of a theft-detection device remover.
The Laws That Govern Retail Theft in Illinois
720 ILCS 5/16-25 governs retail theft (shoplifting) in the state of Illinois. The law says you’re guilty of committing retail theft—or shoplifting, if you prefer that term—if you:
- Take, carry away, or transfer (or cause any of those things) merchandise in a retail store with the intention of keeping it. You can also be guilty if you intend to use or benefit from the merchandise without paying for it.
- Alter, transfer, or remove a label, price tag, or any other marking that indicates the value of the merchandise. This can include swapping price tags to get a lower price on an item.
- Transfer an item into another container intending to deprive the merchant of the full retail value of the item.
- Under-ring items when you’re a cashier.
- Steal a shopping cart.
- Pretend you own something that you don’t own to sell it to a merchant.
- Use a theft-detection shielding device or theft-detection device remover to steal an item.
- Obtain or exert unauthorized control over property with the intent to deprive the owner permanently.
There are several other circumstances that can allow a judge to find you guilty of shoplifting or retail theft, as well, including “theft by emergency exit” and “permissive interference.”
Retail Theft and Shoplifting Penalties
Retail theft is a misdemeanor if the value of the item(s) is under $300. However, if the value is more than $300, you’re looking at felony charges, which can stay on your criminal record forever. Theft from a person is even more serious than theft from a store; if you steal something from a person rather than a store, you’re looking at a Class 3 felony (and prison time).
Have You Been Accused of Shoplifting?
If you or someone you care about has been accused of shoplifting in Skokie, Rolling Meadows, or Chicago, we may be able to help.
Call us immediately at 847-920-4540 for a free shoplifting case review. We’ll listen to your side of the story and go over the evidence the prosecution has against you, and we’ll start developing a defense right away. You don’t have to fight shoplifting charges alone; the consequences are serious, and you need a shoplifting lawyer who will fight for you every step of the way.