Shoplifting – called “retail theft” in Illinois – is a specific type of theft involving taking merchandise from a retail establishment without payment. As with other types of theft, the severity of the charge depends on the value of the stolen goods.
If convicted of shoplifting, you could face a fine or even jail time.
Understanding shoplifting charges and penalties
According to Illinois law, if the shoplifted items are worth less than $300, it is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and up to a year in prison.
If you have a prior offense, or you shoplifted via the emergency exit, it’s a harsher offense – a Class 4 or 3 felony, depending on the circumstances. You could face fines of up to $25,000 and up to five years in prison.
If the value of the stolen property is more than $300, it’s a Class 2 felony, with fines of up to $25,000 and up to seven years in prison.
Avoiding a conviction
If you are facing a shoplifting charge, you may be able to fight it.
Forgetting to pay for an item is not shoplifting. If, for example, you forgot a bulky item in the bottom of your shopping cart, you may be able to defend yourself by arguing that you intended to pay for the item.
Shoplifting cases often rely on grainy security camera footage, which can lead to wrongful accusations. If the image is unclear, you may be able to argue that you are not the person shown in the video.
The penalties for shoplifting can be severe, but fortunately, it is possible to defend yourself against a shoplifting charge.