Shoplifting seems like such a minor offense, right? However, it’s a crime in Illinois – just like it is elsewhere in the U.S. But what is the penalty for shoplifting in Illinois? Will you go to prison? Here’s what you need to know.
Related: Reading Into ILCS: Retail Theft
What is the Penalty for Shoplifting in Illinois?
In Illinois, shoplifting is so serious that they created specific laws to address it. The courts treat shoplifting differently than they treat other types of theft-related crimes (like burglary and robbery).
Shoplifting is considered retail theft, and the law considers it to be stealing items from merchants (such as a store) or attempting to “deprive” a merchant of an item’s full retail value (like by trying to purchase it with a fake clearance sticker on it, or by telling the cashier that it’s been marked down when it hasn’t). Because of Illinois’ very specific laws on shoplifting, the courts can convict you of this crime if you:
- Take, possess, carry or transfer any retail item without paying for it
- Remove, change or transfer a price tag or label
- Move merchandise from one package or container to another
- Under-ringing merchandise at the cash register, either for yourself or for someone else
- Possessing a theft detection shielding device
- Misrepresenting your ownership of an item to a merchant
The penalties are serious. Sometimes retail theft is a misdemeanor, but it can be a felony under some circumstances. It all depends on the value of the property you’re accused of stealing, as well as whether you have a prior conviction.
Related: Charged with theft?
Here’s a quick look at the penalties for shoplifting in Illinois:
- Class A misdemeanor: If the property’s value is $300 or less.
- Class 4 felony: If the property’s value is $300 or less but you have a prior conviction or you used an emergency exit to shoplift.
- Class 3 felony: If the property’s value is $300 or less but you have a prior conviction and use an emergency exit to shoplift, or if the property’s value is over $300 (or you shoplifted property on separate occasions within a one-year period that is valued over $300 in total).
- Class 2 felony: If the property’s value is over $300, including if you shoplifted property on separate occasions within a one-year period and used an emergency exit to shoplift.
Related: Felony defense in Chicago
Additional Shoplifting Penalties in Illinois
You might end up going to jail over shoplifting – but there’s more. A judge can order you to pay for the retail value of the merchandise you took, damages between $100 and $1,000, and attorney’s fees and court costs that the retailer accrued.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About the Penalties for Shoplifting in Illinois?
If someone has accused you of shoplifting – whether or not you actually did it – we may be able to help you. Call us right away at 847-920-4540 for a free consultation with an experienced attorney. If it’s easier, fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
This type of crime isn’t something to gamble with. The penalty for shoplifting is too steep – you could end up doing time in prison, and it’s not uncommon for people to be falsely accused and still convicted. Call us to tell us what happened as soon as possible.