Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C.

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Joliet, IL shoplifting lawyer

Instances of retail theft can be devastating to a business over time, which is why shop owners and mall operators take security and the prosecution of shoplifting seriously.

Illinois law recognizes retail theft as:

  • Taking possession of any sale item without paying the retail price;
  • Moving a product out of its original container so as not to pay full price on the item;
  • Altering or removing a price tag on an item to pay a lesser price;
  • Removing shopping carts from the premise of a store;
  • Declaring false ownership of a product that has not yet been purchased;
  • Use or possession of a theft detection shield; and
  • Maintaining unauthorized control of another’s property.

Retail theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the total value of the merchandise in question. If the value is under $300, a suspect is charged with a Class A misdemeanor and fined up to $2,500, with up to a year of incarceration. Items valued at over $300 result in a Class 3 felony charge, punishable by up to five years in prison and fines up to $25,000.

Retail Theft Defense Strategies

The decision to press charges is up to the store operator where the alleged incident took place. Some will show leniency if the merchandise is returned, while others will seek prosecution. If the case does go to court, an experienced criminal defense attorney can investigate the facts of your case to build an effective defense. This may include:

Ownership mistake: The defense can make a case that the alleged theft was simply a case of mistaken ownership. Shoppers often return to a shop with a product purchased from the same store, and when they go to leave, the merchant may think the customer is trying to steal something they had already purchased.

Lack of intent: A suspect can give testimony that they accidentally left a shop with items they had not purchased. This sometimes happens when a person is shopping for many items and things become cluttered.

Entrapment: Evidence may suggest a suspect was framed by someone else. This must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Impaired mental state: If the suspect was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it could be illustrated that they were unable to recognize the crime they were committing. Also, if someone suffers from a mental disability, the defense can argue that the suspect was not aware that what they were doing was wrong.

Contact a Joliet, IL Retail Theft Lawyer

If you have been charged with shoplifting, the Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C. can help achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Contact a Will County shoplifting defense attorney at 815-666-1285 for your free consultation.



Being arrested on shoplifting charges can be a frightening experience, but even that pales in comparison to the criminal consequences of a conviction. At the very least, a misdemeanor charge, a retail theft conviction can also impact your employment and housing opportunities. Learn more about the criminal and collateral consequences of a shoplifting conviction, your possible alternatives to conviction, and how an experienced criminal defense lawyer can protect your rights with help from the following information.

Consequences of a Retail Theft Conviction

Criminal consequences of a retail theft conviction (those pertaining to the law) depend greatly upon the amount of merchandise or property allegedly stolen, as well as any prior offenses. For those with a clear criminal record who allegedly stole items with a value of less than $300 (or less than $150 for fuel), consequences may include up to a year of jail time, fines, and possible restitution fees, which are paid to the retailer. Second offenses of the same amount are punished as Class 4 felonies and may include consequences of imprisonment for one to three years and fines of up to $25,000, as well as possible restitution to the retailer.

For theft of items that exceed $300, or $150 in fuel, the consequences become more severe, even on first-time offenses. Punished as either a Class 3 or Class 2 felony (depending on the circumstances), such consequences can include imprisonment of two to seven years, fines of up to $25,000, and restitution fees to the retailer.

Other consequences not connected to the criminal justice system (also called collateral consequences) can also have a massive impact on the life of a convicted defendant. Examples of such consequences may include difficulty obtaining employment, inability to obtain proper housing, being barred from the establishment that the defendant allegedly stole from, and a civil suit from the retailer for any damages they may have experienced. Thankfully, it may be possible to avoid all these consequences with help from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Possible Alternatives to Conviction

Although some defendants may be ineligible for certain alternatives to conviction, others may find relief through programs like court supervision, deferred prosecution, or community service. However, it is important to keep in mind that such programs require you to successfully complete them to avoid a conviction. Alternatively, you can pursue a complete dismissal of the charges; for this option, it is crucial to ensure you have qualified legal representation.

Contact Our Joliet Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you or someone you love is facing charges for retail theft, contact the Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C. for assistance. Aggressive advocates that are dedicated to protecting your best interest, our Joliet criminal defense lawyers will pursue the most favorable outcome possible in your case. Get started by scheduling a personalized consultation. Call 815-666-1285 today.


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