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Will I Go to Jail for a Shoplifting Offense in Illinois?

Though most associate shoplifting with an act of teenage rebellion, this is something that many adults are accused of and charged with. Though it may seem silly to face intense penalties, businesses lose considerable profits each year due to theft.  If this reflects your circumstances, understanding the consequences you can face if convicted is critical. The following blog explores what you should know if charged with a shoplifting offense and explains why it’s in your best interest to connect with a Peoria theft lawyer to discuss your situation.

What Is Shoplifting?

Shoplifting, officially referred to as retail theft in Illinois, occurs any time someone takes an item from a retail store without paying for it. This charge differs from theft in that theft occurs when you take an item from a private individual or any location other than a retail establishment.

Though many assume that shoplifting only occurs when a patron removes an item from the store without paying for it, this is not true. In reality, there are many ways in which someone can commit retail theft. These include the following:

  • Concealing an item to remove it from the store
  • Wearing an item (such as a shirt or bracelet) out of the store
  • Switching items from one container to another
  • Manipulating or altering the price tags
  • Switching the price tags of items
  • Removing or tampering with anti-theft devices

What Are the Penalties for a Shoplifting Offense?

Though you may assume you’ll get a stern warning and a short ban from the store if you’re found shoplifting, this is far from the truth. In reality, you can face intense penalties for this crime. The charges you face will depend on the value of the item stolen and whether or not you’ve been charged with this offense before.

Generally, if the property is worth less than $300, you will face a Class A misdemeanor, which warrants up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. A second offense for items valued less than $300 raises the charges to a Class 4 felony, which increases the fine to $25,000 and the potential for jail time to a maximum of three years.

If you take items valued over $300, you will face a Class 3 felony, which warrants a fine of up to $25,000 and two to five years in prison. It’s also important to note that if you take items valued at over $300 but use an emergency exit to escape the store, you will face a Class 2 felony, carrying the same fine but raising the potential jail time to three to seven years.

As you can see, the penalties for shoplifting in Illinois are much more severe than one might expect. As such, if you are facing charges, it’s in your best interest to connect with an experienced attorney to explore the avenues for a potential defense. At Giruado Law, we understand how complex these matters can be, which is why we’re ready to help you navigate these difficult times. Contact us today to learn more.

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