In Illinois, there are different levels of retail theft charges for which the punishments can differ. A punishment can increase from misdemeanor to felony after a theft exceeds a relatively low monetary value.
Retail theft in Illinois is when an individual “takes possession of, carries away, transfers or causes to be carried away…any merchandise” without paying for it. The most common form of this is shoplifting, but there are other types of retail theft as well, including tag swapping and under-ringing.
When an individual conceals merchandise under a jacket or in a purse and leaves an establishment without paying for it, that is shoplifting.
If that individual swaps the tag from a lower priced item to an item with more value so that it rings up at the register with the lower price, that is tag swapping.
Under-ringing is when a cashier scans a tag for a less expensive item in place of a higher priced item. The cashier is committing retail theft in this case. Similarly, an individual using a self-checkout machine who does not scan an item or scans a lower priced item in place of a higher priced item is under-ringing.
For first time offenders who take under $300 worth of merchandise, the theft is charged as a misdemeanor under Illinois law. However, if an individual takes over $300 worth of merchandise, they are charged with a felony. Other factors can come into play as well. For instance, if an individual uses an emergency exit during a theft, it is considered a felony even if the value of merchandise on their person is less than $300.
It is essential to contact a defense attorney if you are charged with retail theft. Prosecutors must prove that individuals knowingly took items from a retailer. We will examine the report from the arresting officer as well any surveillance footage from the alleged incident to create a defensive strategy.
If you or a loved one is charged with retail theft in Illinois, contact Richard at Fenbert & Associates, LLC for a free consultation.