Many people see shoplifting as a minor offense as compared to violent crimes. Stealing from a big box store may even be considered a “victimless crime” to those who commit retail theft. However, Illinois law does not take retail theft lightly. Individuals convicted of retail theft may face misdemeanor or felony charges. The severity of the charge and the associated criminal penalties are based on the value of the goods allegedly stolen and the defendant’s criminal history.
As retail theft becomes increasingly frequent, stores are ramping up their efforts to catch offenders and bring them to justice. Unfortunately, this sometimes means that the wrong person is accused of theft. If you or a loved one were charged with retail theft, contact a lawyer for help right away to start building a defense against the charges.
The term “shoplifting” often brings up images of someone shoving an item in a purse or jacket. However, retail theft can take many different forms. Recently, coordinated groups of people have been entering retail stores and stealing items en masse. Shoplifting can involve specialized tools and equipment designed to trick alarm systems. Switching price tags, not scanning items on the self-checkout register, and fraudulent returns may also lead to shoplifting charges.
Stealing items valued at less than $300 can lead to misdemeanor charges in Illinois. If the items are worth more than $300, the offense is considered a felony. Misdemeanor retail theft charges may be punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2500. Misdemeanors, while still serious criminal offenses, may eventually be expunged from the offender’s record. However, felony convictions cannot be expunged. Felony theft charges could also lead to significant imprisonment and heavy fines.
If you or a loved one were accused of shoplifting, do not take the accusation lightly. Depending on the circumstances of the alleged theft, you or your loved one may be facing up to several years in prison. Contact a DuPage County criminal defense lawyer from J. Aldrich Law, P.C. for help defending against theft charges. Our skilled team can provide the legal advice and aggressive representation you need. Call our office today at 630-953-3000 for a free, no-obligation consultation.