Shoplifting may seem like child’s play compared to other crimes, but Illinois doesn’t take it that way. Understand that if you’re caught shoplifting, then that can open you up to even more charges associated with the incident, as one Chicago man found out.
ABC 7 News recently reported that a struggle ensued following a Chicago man’s attempt to shoplift merchandise from a store. The incident ended in a stabbing.
Charges are still pending in the case, but it’s almost guaranteed he will face more than simple shoplifting charges. Although every suspect is innocent until proven guilty, assault charges don’t seem too far fetched at the outset.
Here’s what you need to know about shoplifting and two other crimes that are commonly charged with these retail theft incidents in Illinois: breaking and entering and assault.
Shoplifting in Illinois
In Illinois, you can commit the basic form of shoplifting if you take, carry away, transfer, or possess merchandise that you plan to deprive the merchant of without paying or without paying the full value.
That means that transferring price tags from something with a lesser value and paying that price can result in shoplifting charges in the state, not simply taking something without paying for it.
The penalties for shoplifting normally coincide with the total value of the items stolen. Theft under $500 is a Class A misdemeanor, while theft of merchandise valued between $500 and $10,000 is a Class 3 felony.
Penalties for Shoplifting in Illinois
As mentioned, the ultimate charge related to shoplifting depends on the value of the items shoplifted. Possible penalties faced include:
- Property valued up to $300 – Class A misdemeanor, punishable by as long as one year in prison and fines of $2,500.
- Property valued over $300 – Class 3 felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and fines up to $25,000.
If you use an emergency exit during the crime or you have previous theft convictions, then you can be charged with a Class 4 felony. This is punishable by up to three years in prison and fines up to $25,000.
Assault Charges in Illinois
If during the commission of a shoplifting crime, you place someone else in fear that they could suffer physical harm or death, then you could be charged with assault.
Assault can be charged as a Class C misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to one year in prison and fines. You may also be asked to complete up to 120 hours of community service.
Breaking and Entering Charges in Illinois
Yet another crime that can be charged alongside shoplifting is breaking and entering. In Illinois, this crime is better known as a burglary charge whether any items were ultimately stolen or not.
Burglary is defined as an act in which someone knowingly enters a property with the intention of committing a crime. The circumstances surrounding a burglary charge will influence how it is classified.
It can be a Class 4 felony when you are caught in possession of tools to assist in breaking and entering, or it can be a Class 1 felony when you commit the offense against a school, place of worship, or daycare.
A Class 2 felony is charged if the damage is done to a property during the commission of a crime.
Laws surrounding shoplifting are changing and the legislature is advocating for penalties that aren’t as harsh for lower-level shoplifting offenses. Until that new law passes, however, you must deal with the law as it currently stands and that means you can be in serious trouble for shoplifting items that aren’t even that expensive, to begin with.
About the Author:
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by Avvo (2013 and 2018), SuperLawyers (2015-2020), The National Trial Lawyers, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.