Chicago Retail Theft (Shoplifting) Criminal Defense Attorney

Law Offices of David L. Freidberg, P.C.

Retail Theft and Shoplifting Under Illinois Law Under 720 ILCS 5/16-25

In Illinois, retail theft and shoplifting are taken very seriously, with laws detailed under 720 ILCS 5/16-25 providing specific guidelines and penalties for those found guilty. This article delves into the complexities of this statute, the definitions of relevant legal terms, the potential penalties involved, and the importance of securing experienced legal defense when faced with such charges.

Retail theft, commonly referred to as shoplifting, encompasses several actions as defined by 720 ILCS 5/16-25. It is not merely taking an item from a store without paying. The statute also covers other forms of deceptive practices such as altering price tags, under-ringing merchandise by manipulating a cash register, or transferring merchandise into another container to avoid paying the full retail value.

Unlawful Possession: Illinois law categorizes even the mere possession of stolen goods with the intent to retain, or to sell, as retail theft.

Use of Theft Detection Shielding Devices: The law goes further to prohibit the use of any device designed to shield the detection of security tags attached to merchandise in a retail establishment.

Key Statutory Provisions:

  • 720 ILCS 5/16-25(a): Defines the actions that constitute retail theft, which include knowingly taking possession of, carrying away, transferring, or causing to be carried away or transferred any merchandise displayed, held, stored, or offered for sale in a retail mercantile establishment with the intention of retaining such merchandise or depriving the merchant permanently of the possession, use, or benefit of such merchandise without paying the full retail value.
  • 720 ILCS 5/16-25(b): Addresses the penalties associated with retail theft, which can vary significantly based on the value of the stolen goods and the criminal history of the accused.

Penalties for Retail Theft in Illinois

Severity of Penalties Based on Value of Merchandise:

The penalties for retail theft can vary widely depending on the value of the merchandise involved:

  • Theft of Merchandise Under $300: Typically treated as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, fines up to $2,500, or both.
  • Theft of Merchandise Over $300: Charged as a Class 3 felony, which can lead to 2 to 5 years in prison, fines, and possible restitution to the merchant.
  • Enhanced Charges: Prior convictions for retail theft can elevate even a misdemeanor charge to a felony level, introducing more severe penalties.

Beyond immediate fines and potential jail time, a conviction for retail theft can have long-lasting repercussions. A criminal record can severely impact job opportunities, professional licenses, and educational prospects.

Building a defense against retail theft charges often involves scrutinizing the evidence used to support the charge. Key questions may involve the intent to steal, the actual value of the merchandise, and whether the defendant’s actions fit the legal definition of the offense.

  • Questioning Intent: Demonstrating that the accused lacked the specific intent to commit theft can be a viable defense. Perhaps the accused forgot to pay for an item or believed they had done so.
  • Disputing Value: Since the severity of penalties can depend on the value of the stolen goods, challenging how that value was calculated can impact the severity of the charges.
  • Procedural Defenses: In some cases, the best defense strategy may involve pointing out procedural errors made during the arrest or evidence collection phases.

Given the complexities involved in defending against a charge of retail theft, the role of an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial. An attorney can navigate the legal system, advocate on your behalf, and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.

Call Attorney David L. Freidberg For A Free Consultation Today!

Facing charges of retail theft or shoplifting in Illinois under 720 ILCS 5/16-25 is a serious matter that demands a comprehensive understanding of the law and an effective defense strategy. The consequences of a conviction can extend far beyond fines and jail time, affecting nearly every aspect of your life.

If you or someone you know has been charged with retail theft in DuPage County, Illinois, it is essential to seek skilled legal representation immediately. Contact The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 or toll-free at (800) 803-1442 for a free consultation. Our dedicated team is prepared to defend your rights and work toward the best possible outcome in your case. With extensive experience and a commitment to our clients, we are here to help guide you through this challenging time.

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