In the grand scheme of things, retail theft is a relatively minor crime--but it is still a crime. In many cases, retail theft is a misdemeanor charge in Illinois, but it can elevate to a felony charge in certain situations. What many people do not know is that retail theft is not just simply taking something from a store without paying for it. You can be charged with retail theft for a variety of different actions, which also determine the type of charge and the applicable penalties if you are convicted.
When most people think of retail theft, they probably think of the type of theft that is defined under the Illinois Criminal Code. According to Illinois law, general retail theft occurs when a person takes possession of, carries away, transfers, or aids in the transferring or carrying away of merchandise without paying for the products and with the intention of depriving the store of its use or benefit. Retail theft is a Class A misdemeanor, as long as the value of the allegedly stolen merchandise does not exceed $300. If the merchandise is valued at more than $300, then the charge is elevated to a Class 3 felony. A repeat offense of retail theft is also an elevated charge and is classified as a Class 4 felony.
There are a few other types of activities that could result in retail theft charges in Illinois. Other forms of retail theft include:
Price Tag Switching: If you remove, alter, or transfer any price tag or marking that displays the value of an item and then attempt to purchase that item for less than the actual price, retail theft charges may apply.
Fraudulent Returns: If you attempt to return a piece of merchandise that is not lawfully yours or that was taken from that establishment with the intention of receiving money or merchandise credit, this is also considered retail theft.
Possessing or Using a Theft Detection Shielding Device: This charge applies if you own or try to use a device that would shield an item from being detected by a magnetic or electronic sensor meant to prevent theft. It also applies to devices used to remove a sensor or theft detection system from an item.
Each of these types of retail theft is a Class A misdemeanor.
Though it may not seem like it, being charged with retail theft is a serious matter. Not only do you face jail time and expensive fines, but you also now have a criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life. If you have been accused of shoplifting, a diligent Arlington Heights, IL retail theft defense lawyer can help. Scott F. Anderson, Attorney at Law has more than 25 years of experience defending clients against all types of criminal charges, including retail theft. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 847-253-3400.
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