Shoplifting is often seen as a minor criminal offense by the general public. Many adults remember attempting to steal a candy bar as a child or know somebody who has swiped a lipstick or two from a drug store. These instances of theft may seem harmless, but stealing is not a victimless crime. Retail stores are constantly looking for ways to mitigate the losses from shoplifting and states are increasingly becoming stricter with punitive consequences for theft. Furthermore, shoplifting high-value items can be considered a felony offense in Illinois. If you have been charged with theft in Illinois, you may be facing a felony which can have life-altering consequences.
Defining Theft as Per Illinois Law
Illinois Statute 720 ILCS 5/16-1 defines theft as obtaining someone else’s property through deception, threat, or without consent. A person may also be charged with theft if he or she knowing buys or otherwise obtains stolen property. The severity of punishment for those convicted of theft is typically determined by the total value of the property that was stolen. If the item which was stolen costs less than $500, it is typically considered a Class A misdemeanor offense. This is punishable by less than one year in prison and up to $2,500 in fines.
Felony Theft Convictions Can Result in Jail Time
Illinois courts penalize those convicted of theft based on three main factors: the nature of the offense, the market value of the stolen goods, and whether or not the defendant had any prior convictions. The severity of a theft conviction is increased if the theft took place in a school, place of worship, or on governmental property. Theft committed at one of these locations or committed by a person with prior related convictions is often considered a Class 4 felony offense. It is punishable by up to three years in prison. A Class 3 felony is assigned to those defendants who are accused of stealing items $500-$10,000 in value directly from the owner’s person. Theft of property valued at $10,000-$100,000 is a Class 2 felony punishable by three to seven years in prison. A theft of property with a value of $100,000-$500,000 is a Class 1 felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The most serious felony conviction, a Class X felony, is assigned to those accused of stealing property which is $1,000,000 in value or more. A Class X felony theft conviction can result in up to 30 years’ imprisonment. Defendants convicted of a Class 4 felony – Class X felony can be fined up to $25,000 in addition to jail time.