Illinois Retail Theft and Related Charges
One of the most common crimes in the United States is retail theft, and while it may seem like a victimless crime, it is not. According to the National Retail Federation, inventory shrinkage due to theft or shoplifting cost American retailers nearly $49 billion in 2016. Many retailers have made retail theft a priority of theirs in order to combat this costly occurrence. In Illinois, retail theft is a crime that is taken seriously and can even be prosecuted as a felony in certain cases. If you are caught shoplifting, it will probably not be a simple matter that can be settled by giving the item back or paying for it — you will most likely be prosecuted.
General Retail Theft Definition
In its most basic form, retail theft occurs when someone knowingly and willingly takes possession of, carries away or transfers any merchandise in a retail establishment without paying for it and that person intends on keeping the merchandise or depriving the retail establishment of the possession of the merchandise permanently. As long as the value of the stolen merchandise does not exceed $300, the crime is classified as a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to one year in prison and up to $2,500 in fines. If the merchandise does exceed $300, then the charge is increased to a Class 3 felony, which carries a possible sentence of two to five years and up to $25,000 in fines.
Though the most common form of retail theft is that of general retail theft, there are other ways you can be charged with retail theft. These related charges include:
- Price Switching: This occurs when a person alters, transfers or removes a price tag or label on an item and attempts to purchase that item for a lower price that it is worth.
- Under-Ringing: Under-ringing is a form of retail theft that mostly employees commit, but customers can also commit under-ringing at self-service cash registers. This occurs when a person rings up an item for less than its full retail value or applies fraudulent discounts or coupons.
- Fraudulent Returns: If a person tries to return merchandise that they do not lawfully own to receive money, gift cards or other merchandise, they can be charged with retail theft.
- Taking a Shopping Cart: A person can also be charged with retail theft if they remove a shopping cart from the premises of a retail establishment without the permission of the merchant and with the intention of depriving the merchant permanently of the shopping cart.
- Using or Possessing a Theft-Detection Shielding Device: If a person uses, attempts to use or even just possesses a theft-detection shielding device, they can be charged with retail theft.
A Joliet Retail Theft Defense Lawyer Can Help
Retail theft is a crime that may start as a misdemeanor charge, but that can grow to a felony charge very easily. Do not let your retail theft charge cause you to become a felon. Call our skilled Will County retail theft defense attorneys immediately. At the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C., we strive to make sure that the damage to your future is as minimal as possible. We will fight to keep you from being convicted whenever we can and we aim to get you fair sentences. Contact our office today by calling 815-740-4025 to schedule a free consultation.