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What Are the IL Shoplifting Laws

Closeup of young woman is stealing red jeans in store, shop, bou

In Illinois, the crime of theft can range from a misdemeanor to a serious felony depending upon the value of merchandise stolen and other aggravating factors. Retail theft, commonly called shoplifting, involves unlawfully taking merchandise from a store past the last point of purchase. Depending upon the amount and value of the property stolen, a defendant charged with shoplifting can face significant fines and even a lengthy prison term. Read on to learn about the shoplifting laws in Illinois, and if you’ve been arrested or charged with retail theft or other crimes in Illinois, reach out to a dedicated Chicago criminal defense attorney as soon as you can.

The Elements of Retail Theft/Shoplifting

Shoplifting is known as “retail theft” in Illinois. Pursuant to 720 ILCS 5/16-25, a person commits the crime of retail theft when he or she:

  • knowingly
  • takes possession of, carries away, transfers, or causes to be carried away merchandise
  • offered for sale in a mercantile establishment (i.e., a store)
  • without paying full price
  • with the intention to keep the property or otherwise permanently deprive the merchant of the property

While that defines the prototypical crime of shoplifting, the statute offers a number of different versions of retail theft. Among other actions, retail theft can take the form of:

  • altering or removing labels or price tags
  • hiding merchandise by moving it from one container to the other with the intent to take the property from the merchant without paying
  • stealing a shopping cart
  • falsely stating that the perpetrator is the owner of the property, or
  • using or possessing a device designed to remove theft detection devices

Penalties for Retail Theft

As with other forms of theft, the severity of the charges and the penalties turn primarily upon the value of the property stolen. Other aggravating factors regarding the nature of the crime may also affect the charges.

The base-level crime of retail theft, meaning theft of property valued at $300 or less, is a Class A misdemeanor. Class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to $2,500 in fines, restitution for the property taken, and up to a year in jail.

Class A misdemeanor retail theft can be bumped to a Class 4 felony if the person commits repeat offenses involving the use of a theft-detection shielding device or remover, if the person has been previously convicted of other theft crimes, or if they use an emergency exit to facilitate the crime. A Class 4 felony is punishable by up to $25,000 in fines and up to three years in prison, as well as restitution.

If the retail value of the property taken is worth more than $300, the defendant could be charged with a Class 3 felony, which is punishable by up to $25,000 in fines and two to five years in prison. If the defendant used an emergency exit to facilitate the theft of more than $300 in goods, they may be charged with a Class 2 felony, which is punishable by up to $25,000 in fines and three to seven years in prison, as well as restitution.

In certain Illinois counties, despite the state threshold, the prosecution will not typically seek felony charges for a nonviolent theft crime until a higher dollar value of stolen property is reached.

Call a Dedicated Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney in Chicago and Carol Stream

If you or someone you care about is facing retail theft, larceny, or other criminal charges in Illinois, protect your future and your family by seeking representation from seasoned, dedicated Chicagoland criminal defense lawyers. Contact the Carol Stream offices of Johnson, Westra, Broecker, Whittaker & Newitt at 630-665-9600.

Johnson Westra Broker Whittaker & Newitt, P.C.

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Phone: 630-665-9600

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