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Misdemeanor Theft in Illinois

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theft, misdemeanor crime, Joliet criminal defense attorneyUnder Illinois law, there are numerous ways to be charged with theft crimes. Some people mistakenly believe that just because something is a misdemeanor it is not a big deal. But, even a misdemeanor conviction for theft can affect your ability to get a job, obtain a professional license, and can land you in jail for up to a year.

What Makes Something Theft?

Illinois defines the crime of theft as taking property that belongs to someone else, without his or her permission, with the intention of using, concealing, abandoning, or depriving the true owner possession of the property.

You can also be convicted of a theft crime by stealing services. This entails knowingly getting services that are for hire, and, by deception, threats, or just knowingly failing to pay for the services, gain the benefit of the services without compensation. This could include eating at a restaurant and then skipping out on the bill.

Defenses to Theft Charges

There are several defenses to a theft charge in Illinois. Just because you are charged with a crime does not mean you will be convicted. You have a right to a jury trial. At trial the prosecution has to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Some of the common defenses to a theft charge are:

  • The owner consented to the use of the property or services;
  • There was no intention to deprive the owner permanently or temporarily of the property; and
  • Disputing the value of the property

A defense attorney will want to understand the circumstances of the incident. Was there a lease agreement? Is this really a civil dispute? Who is the real owner of the property?

Penalties for Misdemeanor Theft

In Illinois the value of the property or services in question largely determine if a crime is a misdemeanor or a felony. For theft crimes where the fair market value of the property or services is $500 or less, the crime will be charged as a misdemeanor.

The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor is up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,500. Many first time offenders of misdemeanor theft can avoid jail time completely. In many Illinois counties, you can enter a diversion program. Under the program, if you follow all of the requirements and pay all the fines, you can usually avoid a criminal conviction.

If you have been accused of or charged with theft, do not speak to anyone about the situation until you have met with an experienced Will County criminal defense lawyer. The longer you wait and the more people you talk to, the worse off your case may be. Call the Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C., today to schedule a consultation.

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