Defenses to Retail Theft in Illinois

Joliet retail theftThere are certain times of the year when shoplifting occurs more often than other times. This is especially true during holidays, such as the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend sales, when more shoppers descend on malls and other retail establishments. Although retailers are always aware of the possibility of someone attempting to take merchandise without paying for it, many store employees are particularly vigilant during these big sale events because of the increased risk of theft.

This vigilance can often lead to false accusations of shoplifting. In Illinois, if the amount of the merchandise the shopper is accused of trying to steal is valued at more than $300, they will be charged with a felony. If a person is falsely accused, the following are some of the common defenses that could be used to prove they are not guilty.

The Customer Was Unaware Their Companion Was Committing Retail Theft

One of the most common situations of shoplifting charges occurs as a “guilt by association” scenario. This happens when one person is actually committing retail theft, but the friend or family member they are shopping with has no idea. Store security will still pursue charges against the innocent individual.

Not Enough Probable Cause to Have Been Stopped by Store Security

When a retail store employee suspects a customer of shoplifting, they will usually contact store security. Security, or the store employee, will search the customer’s personal belongings, such as a purse or backpack, for the merchandise. However, in order to stop the customer and conduct this search, there must be probable cause that the customer has stolen something. If there was no probable cause for the search, then a shoplifting lawyer can argue that the charges should be dropped.

There Is Little or No Evidence the Customer Stole Something

In order to prove the customer has committed retail theft, there must be evidence to prove it, beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the legal standard of proof in the criminal justice system. If there were no witnesses, surveillance video footage, or other proof, a shoplifting lawyer can argue the charges against the customer should be dismissed.

Contact a Will County Defense Attorney

If you have been arrested and charged with retail theft, you could be facing felony charges, depending on the value of the merchandise. A conviction could have a significant impact on your future. Call the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C today at 815-740-4025 to schedule a free consultation with a skilled Will and Grundy County shoplifting attorney to find out what legal options you may have.