Questions about retail theft charges
Retail theft, also known as shoplifting, is purposefully taking an item or merchandise without paying.
Shoplifting includes any action that conceals your intent to take an item without paying the listed price. Retail theft could include hiding the item or removing a price tag. Switching price tags on items so that you pay a lower price is also considered theft because the action deprives the owner of the full value.
What are the consequences of conviction?
Retail theft convictions in Illinois can result in both prison and monetary fines. The amount of the fine and time in jail depends on whether the crime is a misdemeanor or felony. Misdemeanors come with lesser sentences. You can potentially have them expunged or removed from your record in the future. Felony convictions have more severe penalties and stay on your record permanently.
What are some potential challenges for shoplifting charges?
Perhaps you overlooked the item in your cart, or another person slipped the stolen item into your bag as you left the store. In these cases, lack of intent is a possible defense. Did security have a valid reason to question you? Did they violate your rights in the process? If profiling or any violation of your rights occurred, that can create a big challenge for the prosecution. Mistakes made by the police during your arrest could also open the door to lowered or dropped charges.
If you are ever charged with a crime, speak to a legal professional who can help you look for possible defenses. Having a conviction on your record can follow you and create challenges in your life for a long time.