Illinois' theft law covers a broad range of conduct, including conduct often referred to as larceny, embezzlement, theft by deception, extortion, and receiving stolen property.
So, for example, a person who steals a wallet could be convicted of theft. A person who embezzles money from another's account can also be charged with theft. It's also theft for a person to steal a family heirloom and seek compensation for its return.
Under Illinois law, a person commits theft by:
The definition of "property" includes (but isn't limited to) personal property, real property, money, tickets, services, financial instruments, animals, and computer programs.
Illinois' general theft statute covers the majority of theft-related crimes, but a few individual theft crimes remain in statute, including: identity theft; theft of lost or mislaid property; theft of temporary use of property, labor, or services for hire; theft of utility and communication services; financial exploitation of an elderly or disabled adult; and retail theft (shoplifting; discussed below).
This article will discuss Illinois' general theft statute and retail theft penalties.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/15-1, 16-1 (2020)).
Illinois criminal statutes classify theft offenses according to the value of the property or services stolen, as well as the circumstances involved in the theft.
The theft of property valued at $500 or less and not taken from a person constitutes a Class A misdemeanor.
The typical penalty for a Class A misdemeanor conviction carries a jail sentence of less than one year and a fine of no more than $2,500 for each offense, plus payment of restitution for losses associated with the theft.
A Class A misdemeanor ($500 or less and not taken from a person) increases to a Class 4 felony theft if:
Punishment for a Class 4 felony is typically a sentence of one to three years' prison time, a fine not to exceed $25,000, and payment of restitution for losses associated with the theft.
The following thefts constitute a Class 3 felony:
A Class 3 felony conviction generally results in a sentence of two to five years' prison time, a fine up to $25,000, and payment of restitution for losses associated with the theft.
A Class 3 felony theft involving $500 to $10,000 of stolen property or services increases to a Class 2 felony if:
A person also commits a Class 2 felony by stealing property or services:
A Class 2 felony conviction generally carries a sentence of imprisonment ranging from three to seven years in prison and a fine up to $25,000, plus payment of restitution for losses associated with the theft.
A Class 2 felony theft involving between $10,000 and $100,000 of stolen property or services increases to a Class 1 felony if:
A person also commits a Class 2 felony by stealing property or services valued between $100,000 and $1,000,000. If the amount exceeds $500,000, the offense does not qualify for probation.
A Class 1 felony conviction generally carries a sentence of four to 15 years' prison time, a fine up to $25,000, and payment of restitution for losses associated with the theft.
Theft of property or services exceeding $1,000,000 is a Class X felony. In addition, theft of property or services valued at more than $100,000 constitutes a Class X felony if:
A Class X felony conviction generally carries a sentence of imprisonment ranging from six to 30 years' prison time and a fine of not more than $25,000, plus payment of restitution for losses associated with the theft.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/16-1; 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/5-4.5-25 to -55; 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-5-6 (2020).)
A person who commits theft from a retail establishment can face criminal and civil penalties.
A person commits retail theft by doing any of the following, with intent to steal or pay less than full retail price for the merchandise:
The person doesn't need to accomplish the theft to be convicted. For instance, a person who conceals an item inside their coat, intending to steal it but gets caught before leaving the store, can still be convicted of retail theft. It's also retail theft to switch price tags of an item in an attempt to pay less than full price for the item—such as switching price tags on headphone packaging to get a lower price.
Retail theft of items valued at $300 or less constitutes a class A misdemeanor (penalties listed above). A class A misdemeanor offense bumps up to a Class 4 felony under these three circumstances:
If the retail value exceeds $300 (amount can be calculated over the course of a year), the person faces a Class 3 felony. It's a Class 2 felony to use an emergency exit to facilitate retail theft(s) involving more than $300 worth of items.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/16-10 (2020).)
A person also faces civil penalties for a retail theft that involves trying to carry away merchandise or obtain the merchandise for less than full value. A store owner can seek civil damages (in civil court) in the amount of:
If the offender is a minor younger than 19, a parent or guardian may be liable for civil damages up to the amount permitted in the state's Parental Responsibility Law.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/16-25 to -27 (2020).)
If you are charged with any type of theft, speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system and protect your rights.