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b2ap3_thumbnail_shoplifter.jpgJuvenile crime has decreased over the past couple of years, but certain crimes still tend to be popular with teenagers. According to the FBI, there were more than 93,000 juveniles arrested for suspicion of committing theft or larceny in 2017. In the United States, a juvenile is considered to be anyone who is under the age of 18, though the state of Illinois will prosecute those who are 17 or older for serious crimes. Although juveniles are not tried in the same court as adults, the charges that both juvenile and adult offenders face are the same and can become very serious rather quickly.

What Is Retail Theft?

Illinois law provides for general theft, but there is also a separate statute for charges relating to retail theft. General retail theft occurs when a person takes possession of, carries away or transfers any merchandise from a retail establishment with the purpose of depriving the merchant of the benefit or full or partial retail value of the merchandise.

Retail theft is a Class A misdemeanor as long as the retail value of the merchandise that was stolen was no greater than $300. Penalties for a Class A misdemeanor include up to one year in jail, up to $2,500 in fines and/or up to two years of probation. If the retail value of the merchandise exceeds $300, then the charge is increased to a Class 4 felony. Penalties for Class 4 felonies include one to three years in prison, up to $25,000 in fines and/or up to 30 months of probation.

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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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