Each 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.
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.
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.
Similarly, even if you have not been convicted of a prior theft-related crime, you can still be charged with a felony. If you are convicted of retail theft and the total cost of the goods stolen were valued at more than $300, you can be charged with a Class 3 felony, which carries a sentence of two to five years in prison.
If you have been charged with retail theft, you can face strict consequences, even if your charges are not felony charges. Misdemeanor charges can still be punished with jail time, fines and/or probation. It is important that you contact a skilled Western Springs, IL retail theft defense lawyer as soon as possible if you have been accused of shoplifting. At Myers Law LLC, we can help you defend against these charges and obtain a favorable result at all costs. Call our office today at 844-984-3529 to set up a time for a free 15-minute phone consultation.