Prosecution for Retail TheftShoplifting – Consult With an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

As a criminal defense lawyer in Chicago, it seems that every day I get calls from potential clients who have been arrested for retail theft, or what you may call shoplifting. Most of the people are very nice and are quite embarrassed. These men and women are also concerned about the potential consequences of an arrest for retail theft offense. To be honest they should be, it can be quite trying. For any of you out there considering taking merchandise from a retail store without paying for the items, don’t do it! For those that have already been arrested for shoplifting / retail theft crime, then the following summary will provide a look at what may lie ahead.

In Illinois, retail theft is defined as taking items offered for sale in a retail store without paying the full price of the items. The most common violation of this law involves individuals that conceal items and then walk out of the store without paying for the items. Some individuals pay for some items while concealing and not paying for other items. A less common violation involves switching of price tags, and then paying a price lower than the store offers the item for sale. Though they may seem like minor crimes, all of these violations are criminal offenses and can lead to arrest, prosecution, and even county jail.

Most people arrested for retail theft are charged with a Class A misdemeanor. In Illinois, a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 or both. If the person arrested stole items with a retail value of over $300 they can be charged with a Class 3 felony, punishable by from 2-5 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections and a fine of up to $25,000 or both. If the person arrested has a prior retail theft on their record, the prosecutor can elect to charge the person with a Class 4 felony, punishable by from 1-3 years in prison and fine of up to $25,000 or both.

Fortunately, most people arrested for retail theft are not given the maximum sentence or fine. In fact, if properly represented, there are many options available to stay out of jail, avoid a large fine, and possibly have everything expunged and erased from your record. For example, in Chicago IL and other Cook County courts, first time offenders of retail theft are sometimes offered an opportunity to take part in a theft deterrent program. This program typically involves a one-time, four hour class. The purpose of which is to discourage first time offenders from shoplifting ever again. At the conclusion of the class, each person attending receives a certificate of completion. At the next court date, your criminal defense lawyer presents the client’s certificate of completion and the case is then dismissed. This is a great opportunity to avoid a lifetime of living with a criminal conviction on your record. Even convictions as minor as shoplifting can present problems for current or future employment, or make it difficult for getting approved by the board or association in a place you would like to reside.

Should you find yourself facing criminal prosecution for retail theft / shoplifting, you should immediately consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. A skilled and knowledgeable criminal attorney will guide you more easily through the process and give you the best opportunity to avoid jail, large fines and a criminal record.

Andrew M. Weisberg is an aggressive criminal defense lawyer Chicago who has been serving clients throughout Illinois for many years. Areas of expertise are in laws relating to murder, traffic violations and more. Hire an experienced retail theft lawyer Chicago.