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Retail Theft

IL defense lawyerEach year, there is more than $45 billion lost from inventory shrinkage in the retail industry in the United States. Inventory shrinkage is caused by things such as fraud, internal theft, shoplifting, and even organized retail crime. Though it may seem like a victimless crime, retail theft harms the economy. This is why retailers and law enforcement officials have placed increased focus on catching shoplifters and prosecuting them in recent years. In Illinois, retail theft encompasses a wide variety of behaviors, not simply just taking an item without paying for it. In some instances, retail theft charges can become felony charges, which mean you face harsher consequences than if the charges were just misdemeanor charges.

Misdemeanor Retail Theft Charges

In general, a first-offense retail theft charge will be considered a Class A misdemeanor. This means you will face up to one year in jail, up to $2,500 in fines and/or possible probation time as a punishment. Retail theft is typically a Class A misdemeanor for first-time offenders as long as the value of the stolen goods does not exceed $300 or $150 for motor fuel.

Felony Retail Theft Charges

It does not take much for retail theft charges to escalate to felony charges. The offender's prior history with theft, robbery, burglary, forgery or other related crimes can dictate whether or not a charge is elevated to a felony charge. If the person has been convicted of retail theft of merchandise less than $300 and was previously convicted of theft, robbery, burglary or related crimes, the retail theft charge will become a Class 4 felony. This means the person can face one to three years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

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IL defense lawyerEach year, inventory shrinkage due to theft or shoplifting causes the U.S. retail industry to lose over $45 billion. This is why most stores have placed an increased focus on loss prevention strategies. In the state of Illinois, retail theft is taken very seriously and comes with severe consequences. If you get caught trying to shoplift an item, the situation is not as easy to resolve as just paying for the item and going on your way. If you are caught shoplifting, you will be charged with retail theft, which can easily turn into a felony, depending on the circumstances of your case.

General Definition

When you think of retail theft, you probably think of the first definition of retail theft in the Illinois Penal Code. According to the code, a person commits retail theft when he or she takes possession of any merchandise in a retail establishment with the intention of retaining the merchandise and permanently depriving the retail establishment of the merchandise without paying for it. General retail theft is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. While this is the most common form of retail theft, it does come in other forms.

Other Retail Theft

Contrary to what many people may believe, there is more than one form of retail theft. In Illinois, the following offenses are also punished as retail theft:

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IL defense attorneyOne of the most common crimes that teenagers commit is retail theft, or shoplifting. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Unified Crime Report, over 100,000 Americans under the age of 18 were charged with larceny in 2016. Everyone makes mistakes - especially teenagers. That is why it is so important to understand the repercussions that can come from one, small bad decision made in the heat of the moment. Here are four things you need to know about retail theft.

It is Not Usually Premeditated

According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP), an estimated 73 percent of adults and 72 percent of juvenile shoplifters do not plan to shoplift in advance. Typically, it is a spur-of-the-moment decision. For teens, especially, peer pressure, impulses and a general lack of judgment all combine to cause unplanned thefts.

Retailers Typically Punish Shoplifters to the Full Extent of the Law

The offender is not the only one who loses when they are caught shoplifting - police and courts are busy dealing with petty thefts when they should be focusing on more important things, the costs of goods are driven up because of losses and communities lose sales tax revenue. This is why retailers have begun punishing offenders to the full extent of the law - to deter others from shoplifting.

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IL defense lawyerShoplifting may seem like a petty crime, and some people may even consider it a right of passage. However, shoplifting charges can be a dark stain on your criminal record and show up when you apply for housing or a job.

In Illinois, to be convicted of misdemeanor shoplifting, or retail theft as lawyers and courts call it, there are several elements that must be proven. Perhaps the most common way someone shoplifts is when “he or she knowingly obtains or exerts unauthorized control over property of the owner.”

Thus, the state must prove that you knowingly shoplifted. It is not enough to be caught in possession of items allegedly stolen. The state must prove that you knew what you were doing. This can be difficult to prove in some cases and may be a valid defense.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_432937852.jpgBurglary and robbery are very serious crimes that can come with undesired consequences.  Along with other types of theft, being charged for these types of crimes can impact your future employment opportunities, your relationships with family and loved ones, and your overall quality of life. In Illinois, the definitions of burglary and robbery are very different, and it is very important to know the difference between them.

The Definition and Consequences of Burglary

Burglary is defined as when an individual enters another individual’s property without authorization and has the intention to commit theft. Property could mean another individual’s house, building, house trailer, aircraft, watercraft, railroad car, and personal vehicle:

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