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Defending Against Retail Theft Charges in Illinois

 Posted on May 16, 2019 in Retail Theft

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.



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