Automated self-service checkouts are becoming more and more popular. You can find these devices everywhere from grocery stores to gas stations. Using the self-checkout at a store can be convenient, but it also comes with its own set of risks. One of those risks is being accused of shoplifting if you make a mistake while scanning your items.
Many people assume that an innocent mistake cannot lead to criminal charges. However, it is entirely possible to be accused of retail theft even if you never intended to steal an item. In Illinois, retail theft may be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value of the item(s).
Shoplifting is increasingly prevalent in Illinois and throughout the U.S., and asset protection is a top priority for commercial retail establishments. Businesses are taking various measures to combat retail theft, including the prosecution of individuals who allegedly steal using self-service checkouts.
Self-checkouts can lead to theft accusations in several ways:
Forgetting to scan an item - A hurried shopper may not realize that an item did not scan properly and was not registered by the computer. He or she places the unscanned item in the bag along with the other items, pays, and leaves. On the way out of the store, the shopper is approached by asset protection and asked to show their receipt.
Not entering an item correctly into the computer - Certain items are valued by pound or ounce. You must place the item on the scale to weigh it and then manually enter the name of the item into the digital register. Something as simple as accidentally choosing regular avocados instead of organic avocados can lead to accusations of theft.
Leaving the store without paying for all of the items in your cart - An item left under a purse or at the bottom of the cart may go unnoticed by a shopper. He or she innocently forgets to scan the item and is later charged with retail theft as a consequence.
Accusations of theft–even petty theft–can have a major impact on a person's life. Stealing items valued at less than $300 is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois, punishable by up to one year in jail and fines of up to $2,500. The penalties become more severe for items valued at more than $300. If the retail value is between $300 and $2,000, it is a Class 3 felony. The potential consequences include 2-5 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.
However, even if a person is not convicted of theft, the arrest and charges will appear on his or her record, which can be detrimental to the person's personal and professional reputation. Fortunately, many people in this situation are eligible for an expungement.
If you or a loved one were charged with shoplifting or theft, contact J. Aldrich Law, P.C. for help. Call our DuPage County criminal defense attoneys at 630-953-3000 and set up a free consultation today.