Illinois Retail Theft Lawyers
Retail theft is an area of criminal law that involves the taking of a merchant or store's goods without consent. In general, retail theft occurs when a person fails to pay any or all of an advertised price on items or merchandise at a store. Although one of the most easily recognizable and common forms of retail theft is shoplifting, many other actions can amount to a situation that is actionable for the crime of retail theft. For example, each of the following is an example of retail theft:
- Placing an item under your jacket and walking out of the store
- Switching the price tags on an item so as to allow you to buy the item for a lesser amount
- Putting a piece of merchandise inside the box of another to cause it not to be rung at the register
- Altering a store's pricing gun to cause it to incorrectly charge an insufficient amount
- Trying to return an item belonging to the store for a refund, goods exchange, or store credit
- Permanently removing a shopping cart from a store without permission.
- Taking goods or funds from your employer.
Depending on the price of the good and the manner in which it was stolen, retail theft can be classified anywhere from a misdemeanor to a class 2 felony. Unlike general theft, which sets $300 as the value separating misdemeanors and felonies, a retail theft becomes a felony if a court determines that the stolen property is worth more than $150.
In general, a person that is convicted of retail theft of something valued at $150 or less is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable anywhere from a fine and probation up to one year in jail. The sentence can be increased to a Class 4 felony if the person had previously been convicted of a theft, robbery, or burglary in Illinois. A Class 4 felony is punishable with a prison sentence of up to 3 years.
A person convicted of retail theft of something valued at more than $150 is guilty of a Class 3 felony, which is punishable with a prison sentence of up to 5 years.
In addition, a person that uses an emergency exit of a building while committing retail theft is subject to harsher punishment. If you are found guilty of retail theft of something valued at less that $150 while using an emergency exit, the sentence escalates from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony; if a person with prior theft or burglary convictions is found guilty of using an emergency exit, the sentence can be escalated to a Class 3 felony.
The emergency exit principle also applies to retail theft of items worth more than $150, as the sentence can be escalated to a Class 2 felony, which is punishable by up to 7 years in prison.
Due to the wide range of applicable sentencing, it is very important that anyone charged with a retail theft contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. We highly recommend that if you are arrested for retail theft that you do not speak to anyone about it without an attorney present and under no circumstances, even if you have admitted that you did it, should you plead guilty without first consulting with an attorney. In most situations involving a first time arrest the Illinois retail theft lawyers we recommend can either get the charges outright dismissed or get you supervision which means that the arrest and result can eventually be expunged from your record.
If you have been arrested for retail theft and would like our help please call us at (312) 346-5320 or complete our contact form. We are based out Chicago, but don't just recommend Chicago retail theft lawyers. Rather we recommend criminal defense attorneys in almost every county in Illinois. The recommendations that we make are based on the specifics of your situation. We will treat you like we would treat a family member or a friend who cam to us for help.
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