Retail theft or shoplifting is an offense that crosses age groups, socio-economic status and races. Recently, changes have been made to the theft laws here in Illinois. These changes favor defendants so it is vital a person knows what these changes are so that he/she can put forth the best defense against theft charges.
The most important change is in the Theft and Retail Theft statutes found in 720 ILCS 5/16-1 and 720 ILCS 5/16-25. Previously, if you were charged with theft or retail theft, and the value of the item or items taken was over $300 you could be charged with a class 4 felony. A class 4 felony carries with it a penalty of between 1-3 years in prison. The new statute has raised the value of the item to $500. What this means for those charged with theft, shoplifting or retail theft is that if the value of the item taken was $499.99 or below, you will be charged with a class A misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 364 days in the county jail, does not involve prison time and avoids a felony conviction on your record. Additionally, misdemeanor convictions are more often allowed to be cleared off your record through expungement or sealing while a felony conviction will require clemency through the governors office (a much more time consuming process).
As of January 1, 2011, the theft and retail theft laws in Illinois have changed so that it is a misdemeanor if the value is $300 or less. For those charged with these offenses, this is a major improvement in the law, because, as we all can see, prices for all items are increasing. As a result of the new law, many first time offenders who would have been charged as felonies are now eligible to be charged as misdemeanors.
If you or a loved one has been charged with theft, retail theft, shoplifting or any other criminal matter, please call or contact Purav Bhatt at 773-791-9682.
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