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Understanding Retail Theft In Illinois

Understanding Retail Theft In Illinois

People make mistakes.  Whether the mistake was a result of a lapse of prudent decision making or a moment of weakness in a tough situation, we are all guilty of various types of mistakes.  Often, we can pick ourselves back up after a mistake, learn from it, and move on, ensuring that we do not make the same mistakes again.  One thing that we often use to prevent ourselves from accepting liability for various mistakes is the fact the we did not know that what we were doing, saying, thinking, at the time was wrong.  Unfortunately, when it comes to the law, ignorance is not an excuse.  If you find yourself in trouble, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you build a defense.

What Is Retail Theft?

Retail theft is more of an umbrella term in Illinois and it includes more offenses and actions that you may generally think about when you hear the the term.  In addition to the fact that retail theft includes various actions, it also includes varying degrees of offense.

It is important to know exactly what actions constitute retail theft in Illinois:

  • Simply taking an item without paying for it.  This is the most common understanding we have of retail theft.  However, we have to remember that there is also an intent component.  Any person who knowingly takes or promotes the carrying away of anything from a retail establishment without paying the value determined by the merchant, with the intent of permanently depriving the merchant of that item has likely committed retail theft.  720 ILCS 5/16-25.
  • If you alter the price tag or barcode of an item in order to pay less than the merchant determined the value of the item is, you have likely committed retail theft.
  • If you use any electronic device to prevent a security device from detecting a stolen item, you have likely committed retail theft.
  • Keeping property after the lease has expired without paying the value set by the merchant for the purchase of the item will be considered retail theft if you fail to return the item or pay the full value within ten days of the merchant’s written demand for return.
  • Returning or exchanging an item that did not belong to you is likely retail theft.
  • If you exit through an emergency door and take merchandise without full payment, it is still retail theft.

Aside from the actions that constitute retail theft, you should be aware of the various levels of offenses and the penalties that accompany them.

  1. For items valued at $300 or less, the theft will be classified as a Class A misdemeanor.  The punishment can be up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.  
  2. For items valued at greater than $300, you can be charged with a Class 4 felony.  The punishment ranges from 1-3 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.  
  3. In the event that you took the merchandise through an emergency exit as discussed above, then it will be a Class 4 felony regardless of the value of the items.  Second offenses of this theft will be considered a Class 3 felony with a punishment of 2-5 years in prison.

Speak To An Experienced Joliet Theft Attorney

It is difficult to determine who can help you if you or a loved one is in need of a good defense.  With decades of experience, attorney Eugene Fimbianti can help you build the defense you need to maintain your freedom and a good record.  Contact The Law Offices of Eugene Fimbianti today for the best criminal defense help.

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