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AZHARI LLC BLOG

Oct. 25 2019

When They Say You Shoplifted in Illinois Multiple Times…

Posted By: Sami Azhari
Category:

When They Say You Shoplifted in Illinois Multiple Times...

When faced with objects of value, individuals may have a lapse of judgment and be tempted to steal. As a result, shoplifting is a common offense that occurs in the state of Illinois.

The law takes this into account and first-time offenders are subject to lighter sentences. However, if you have been accused of shoplifting in Illinois multiple times, you may be liable for stricter penalties.

First, a Legal Definition of Illinois Shoplifting

Shoplifting can be defined as purposely depriving a merchant of an item or depriving the merchant of the full value of that item. This means that the act of shoplifting extends beyond just stealing an item.

Switching price tags between items so that an individual is able to pay less is an example of this. In fact, the State of Illinois defines several situations by which a person may deprive a merchant of full value or otherwise “shoplift” that covers more than just taking something from the store.

In addition, the state of Illinois considers which exit was used during the act of shoplifting. Although the point of exit may seem insignificant, going out through an emergency exit will make an individual liable for much stricter penalties.

Speaking of which…

General Shoplifting Penalties in Illinois

The penalties for shoplifting in Illinois vary depending on the circumstances involved, with charges ranging from Class A misdemeanors all the way to Class 2 felonies.

Generally speaking, as the value of the stolen items increases, the charges and penalties increase. This is true whether you are being charged for a single shoplifting venture of a “spree” where multiple stores were targeted.

However, if you have previous theft-related convictions, it can have a huge negative impact on the consequences you face.

The following chart categorizes the possible charges, with bolding to emphasize first vs. multiple shoplifting offenses.

ClassificationThe OffenceCriminal Penalty
Class A MisdemeanorIf an individual shoplifts a total combined value of $300 or less and it is their first shoplifting offense.An offender is liable to pay a fine of up to $2,500 and may be sentenced up to a maximum of 1-year imprisonment.
Class 4 FelonyIf an individual shoplifts a total combined value of $300 or less and they exited through an emergency exit. It is the individual’s first shoplifting offense.An offender is liable to pay a fine of up to $25,000 and may be sentenced to 1-3 years imprisonment.
Class 4 FelonyIf an individual shoplifts a total combined value of $300 or less and they have multiple theft-related offenses.An offender is liable to pay a fine of up to $25,000 and may be sentenced to 1-3 years imprisonment.
Class 3 FelonyIf an individual shoplifts a total combined value of $300 or less and they exited through an emergency exit. The individual has multiple theft-related offenses.An offender is liable to pay a fine of up to $25,000 and may be sentenced to 2-5 years imprisonment.
Class 3 FelonyIf an individual shoplifts a total combined value of more than $300. There is no distinction made between first offense vs. multiple offenses at this value.An offender is liable to pay a fine of up to $25,000 and may be sentenced to 2-5 years imprisonment.
Class 2 felony

 

If an individual shoplifts a total combined value of more than $300 and they exited through an emergency exit. There is no distinction made between first offense vs. multiple offenses at this value.An offender is liable to pay a fine of up to $25,000 and may be sentenced to 3-7 years imprisonment.

Chicago Sholifting Attorney

Chances are, if you’re being charged with shoplifting from multiple stores, the value is going to be higher than $300. That means you’re likely to face at least a class 3 felony and 2-5 years in prison.

Illinois Shoplifters May Face Civil Liability, Too

It doesn’t necessarily stop with criminal penalties. Shoplifters may also be liable for civil damages. Merchants can file a civil lawsuit and sue offenders for the act of shoplifting.

Offenders may be liable for:

  • The retail value of stolen items
  • Damages between $100-$1000 dollars
  • Attorney and legal fees

If the shoplifter is a minor, the legal parents or guardians may be liable under the Illinois Parental Responsibility Law.

Possible Shoplifting Defenses in Illinois

Individuals accused of shoplifting may be able to use any of a number of legal defenses for theft to combat the charges. Some common defenses to theft are:

Actual Innocence

The accused is innocent of the accusations. A strong alibi or other evidence will be helpful if attempting this argument.

Mistaken Ownership

The accused believed they had a valid claim of ownership to the item.

Lack of Intent

The accused may not have actually intended to commit the act (i.e trying on items and genuinely forgetting to take something off upon leaving).

Returning the Items

Although the accused may still be guilty of shoplifting, the penalties may be less severe if they attempt to return them.

Entrapment

The accused may have been forced to commit the act.

Intoxication or Altered Mental State

The accused may have been in a state of mind where they engaged in an act they would not have otherwise. This one should only be used in very specific circumstances.

Regardless, if you are facing charges relating to shoplifting multiple times, the consequences of a conviction are likely very serious. Make sure you get someone on your side with a strong understanding of the law and a track record of success.

 

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 SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.