An 18-year-old girl was recently accepted into the University of Chicago with an athletic scholarship. She is a great student and dedicated to swimming. However, on a recent shopping trip to celebrate their upcoming graduation, her friends suggest it would be funny to steal a pair of wireless earPods from the Apple store. She goes along with them, and they all get caught by the store’s security guard. Now she is facing harsh penalties for the retail theft that could put her future in jeopardy.
What Constitutes Retail Theft in Illinois?
Shoplifting is a serious crime in Illinois. That said, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has said that she will not prosecute retail theft crimes if the goods stolen are worth less than $1000. Illinois has some of the harshest laws for stealing from a retail store for amounts over that, however. Anyone charged with retail theft for the first time will probably be surprised at how easy it is for prosecutors to charge them with a felony. The crime of retail theft involves the following:
- Knowingly taking possession of, carrying away, or transferring
- Any merchandise displayed, held, stored, or offered for sale in a retail mercantile establishment
- With the intent of retaining the merchandise or depriving the merchant permanently of it
- Without paying the full retail value
There are various other types of retail theft, as well. These acts include changing price tags, under-ringing, making a false return, using a jamming device, and keeping property after the lease expires.
Illinois Has Harsh Penalties for Retail Theft
The penalty for retail theft depends on the dollar amount of the goods taken from the retail location. When the stolen goods are valued at over $1,000, the defendant faces Class 4 felony charges. Class 4 felony charges carry a sentence of one to three years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
When the defendant has a prior conviction of retail theft or another theft-related offense, prosecutors will automatically charge him or her with a Class 4 felony. Illinois’ recent criminal justice reform law allows a judge to reject mandatory minimum sentencing for retail theft crimes under certain conditions. Instead of imposing a mandatory minimum jail sentence, the court can sentence the offender to probation or conditional discharge. The court can choose to sentence the defendant to a lesser term of imprisonment as long as it is appropriate and in the interest of justice.
Contact an Illinois Defense Lawyer Today
Have you been charged with retail theft? If so, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. At Glasgow & Olsson, our award-winning criminal defense lawyers have a proven track record of success in many high-profile state and federal criminal cases. Contact Glasgow & Olsson today to schedule your initial consultation to learn how our legal team can fight for your rights.