When you walk out of a store, you may be surprised to hear the alarms go off, indicating that you have merchandise you have not paid for in your possession. However, it’s important to note that this is not a simple mistake. You cannot return, pay for the items, and leave. In many instances, the police will be called, and you can be charged with retail theft, especially if it is a high-value item. As such, if you are facing criminal charges, it is imperative to contact a Peoria theft lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your circumstances. The following blog explores what you must know about this crime if accused.
Retail theft is the formal term used in Illinois to discuss any form of “shoplifting.” Generally, this occurs whenever an item is taken from a retail location, from mom-and-pop shops to big-box stores.
It is essential to understand that retail theft occurs in several ways. For example, any time you purposely take an item for sale out of the store without paying, whether concealing it on your person or running out of the store with it, constitutes theft. However, altering the price tag, such as placing the barcode for an item of lesser value than the true barcode, or “blind scanning,” which is placing the item behind an item of lesser value, also constitutes theft. Finally, if you place an item in something like a bin or bag and only scan the container and not its contents, this is also retail theft.
It’s important to understand that the penalties you can face for this crime depend on the value of the item stolen.
Generally, if the item or items are less than $300, you will face a Class A misdemeanor, with the potential for one year in prison and a $2,500 fine. If it is your second offense, this warrants a Class 4 felony charge. These constitute one to three years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
If you steal anything worth more than $300, this constitutes a Class 3 felony, carrying up to five years in jail. However, stealing something worth more than $300 and using an emergency exit is a Class 2 felony with anywhere from three to seven years in prison.
If you are charged with retail theft, understanding the potential defenses your attorney can use to help defend you is vital. For example, you may be able to prove that you were not the person who altered the tags, the checkout machine you used was malfunctioning, or that you did not intend to steal the items.
Regardless, it’s imperative to contact an experienced attorney to discuss the details of your circumstances when facing charges. Your lawyer will review the facts of your case to determine the best option for you and your unique circumstances.
At Giraudo Law, we understand how a criminal charge can uproot your life. That’s why our team is committed to doing everything possible to help you achieve the best outcome for your situation. Contact our firm today to learn how we can help you.