Theft & Shoplifting Laws

What is Theft Under Illinois Law?

Theft is largely self explanatory and well understood – it is taking something that does not belong to you. According to Illinois criminal law, theft is when a person takes property from someone else without their permission with the intent to use, conceal, abandon, or just deprive the original owner of having it.

It is also considered theft if you knowingly possess stolen property even if you did not steal it.

Ref: (Illinois Theft laws -720 ILCS sec.16-1)

What Should I Know About a Theft Charge?

Not all theft has the same punishment. A person who steals a car and a person who shoplifts a pack of gum are not going to receive the same sentence. The type of theft you are charged with depends on the value of what was stolen and the circumstances by which it was stolen.

Generally, the higher the value of the property that was stolen the more severe the penalty. If a theft occurs on school, religious property, or if it was property of the government or a non-profit organization, the charges and penalties are more severe. The severity of the penalty also depends on your criminal history. If you have been previously convicted of any type of theft, robbery, burglary, or other similar crimes then the penalty is more severe.

Can I Fight a Theft Charge in Court?

Yes, we can help you defend against a shoplifting/theft charge, and look for every opportunity to avoid a possibly permanent criminal record that could follow you for life.

During a free consultation with one of our local Illinois attorneys, you can find out exactly what the severity is for the type of theft you are being charged with. We’ll discuss the specific details of your case, and how we can also help prepare the best possible defense. We are here to help you determine what your next steps are going to be to resolve your case.

We understand that all people make mistakes. No matter what kind of theft you are being charged with, our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys can help you minimize the damage of your mistake. You deserve fair treatment under the law, and a second chance. But the sooner you face your charges and talk to one of our experienced attorneys, the sooner you can put the past behind you and focus on your future choices.

And, of course, if you are unfairly charged, we will fight tirelessly on your behalf. Police make mistakes all the time in arresting and charging people with crimes. If there is a questionable situation, they often arrest anyone who could be suspected, and sort it out later. But being arrested does not mean you are guilty. That’s what the courts are there to decide, and we will make sure your voice is heard.

What are the Penalties for Theft in Illinois?

If the value of the stolen property is $300 or less and it was not stolen directly from another person then the theft conviction is Class A Misdemeanor which carries a possible sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Many shoplifting charges fall under this category.

If the value of stolen property is $300 or less and it was stolen directly from another person, or if the value of the property was more than $300 but not more than $10,000, the theft conviction is a Class 3 Felony which carries a possible sentence of up to 5 years in a state penitentiary and/or a fine of up to $25,000.

If the value of the stolen property is between $10,001 and $100,000, the theft conviction is a Class 2 Felony which carries a possible sentence of up to 7 years in a state penitentiary and/or a fine of up to $25,000.

If the value of the stolen property is between $100,001 and $500,000, the theft conviction is a Class 1 Felony which carries a possible sentence of up to 15 years in a state penitentiary and/or a fine of up to $25,000.

If the value of the property stolen is above $500,000 it is also a Class 1 Felony, but you are not eligible for probation.

Remember, the above numbers do not take into account special circumstances that may make the punishment more severe such as the location of the theft, the victim of the theft, and your criminal history.

Free Consultation on a Theft or Shoplifting Charge in Illinois

These circumstances are going to be different for every case and the best way to find out how they are for your case is to ask for a free consultation. Our attorneys will evaluate your case, and explain what is likely to happen to you and what you can do about it. There’s no obligation, so call now or fill out our contact form, and we’ll get in touch with you.