Shoplifting Charges in Illinois

Learn about the laws, penalties and civil consequences of a shoplifting charge in Illinois. Find out if you can avoid a conviction and criminal record.

Shoplifting is a serious crime in Illinois, with criminal penalties including jail time and fines. In addition, shoplifters can be sued in civil court by victimized merchants for damages.

Shoplifting in Illinois

In Illinois, shoplifting (retail theft) can be committed in a variety of ways, including:

  • taking away merchandise without paying the full retail value;
  • tampering with price tags and other labels; or
  • switching merchandise from one container to another,
  • with the intent of depriving the merchant of the full retail value.

Making false returns of merchandise, keeping merchandise past the expiration of a lease, and defeating anti-theft devices also qualify as retail theft in Illinois. Shoplifters face criminal and civil penalties as described below.

Shoplifting Criminal Penalties in Illinois

Charge

Classification

Penalty

Shoplifting property with a total combined value of $300 or less

Class A misdemeanor

Fines up to $2,500; up to one year of imprisonment

Shoplifting property with a total combined value of $300 or less, when the crime is executed via the use of an emergency exit

Class 4 felony

Fines up to $25,000; between one and three years of imprisonment

Shoplifting property with a total combined value of $300 or less, when the convicted person has been previously convicted of any type of theft or related crimes

Class 4 felony

Fines up to $25,000; between one and three years of imprisonment

Shoplifting property with a total combined value of $300 or less, when the crime is executed via the use of an emergency exit, and when the convicted person has been previously convicted of any type of theft or related crimes

Class 3 felony

Fines up to $25,000; between two and five years of imprisonment

Shoplifting property with a total combined value of more than $300 in a single transaction or in separate transactions over a period of one year

Class 3 felony

Fines up to $25,000; between two and five years of imprisonment

Shoplifting property with a total combined value of more than $300 in a single transaction or in separate transactions over a period of one year, when theft is executed via the use of an emergency exit

Class 2 felony

Fines up to $25,000; between three and seven years of imprisonment

Civil Liability

In addition to criminal penalties, an adult or emancipated minor shoplifter (or the parents or legal guardians of a minor) may be held liable in a civil lawsuit for the retail value of the stolen merchandise, damages between $100 and $1,000, attorney fees, and court costs. Liability for parents and guardians is subject to the limitations of the Parental Responsibility Law.

Diversion Programs and Plea Bargaining

Certain individuals accused of first-time and low-level crimes may be able to enter a First Offender Program/pretrial diversion/deferred prosecution program as an alternative to prosecution. Upon completion of the program requirements, which may include activities such as paying restitution and performing community service, the criminal charges will be dropped.

If a diversion program is not an option, the accused may also be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor. Plea bargains typically involve pleading guilty in exchange for reduced charges or lighter sentencing. Plea bargains are available at the discretion of the prosecutor, and terms often depend upon on the nature and circumstances of the crimes committed.

Learn more about diversion and pretrial options.

Getting Help

If you have been accused of shoplifting, it is in your best interests to consult a criminal attorney. An experienced criminal attorney can help you explore your options, including pursuing a pretrial diversion program, raising defenses, or negotiating a plea bargain, in order to minimize the effects of the shoplifting charges.

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