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Retail theft, commonly known as shoplifting (720 ILCS 5/16-25), is a charge regularly seen throughout the Illinois Circuit Courts. The defense attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C. frequently represent clients charged with retail theft throughout the Chicagoland area.

Retail theft or shoplifting typically involves an allegation of taking merchandise past the last point of purchase from any of the various retail establishments that populate Illinois.

Shoplifting - Felony or a Misdemeanor?

Shoplifting can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the total value of the stolen merchandise. The penalties for retail theft in Illinois were adjusted as of January 1, 2011. When the merchandise has a total value under $300.00, the charge is filed as a Class A Misdemeanor. Class A Misdemeanors are punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. For merchandise that’s value exceeds $300.00, the prosecutor can charge the matter as a felony offense.

In retail theft cases, there are variety of possible outcomes including dismissal, finding of not guilty after trial, court supervision or conviction. Of course, the strength of the evidence must be evaluated in order to determine the most appropriate strategy. Your attorney must consider all options after analyzing the facts and your background to ensure the best possible result. Our shoplifting attorneys have handled numerous cases across the Chicagoland area.

Additional Penalties: Civil Lawsuit for Shoplifting

Criminal punishment, as described above, is not the only potential penalty for retail theft. If you are caught shoplifting, the retail establishment can file a civil suit against you. Under Illinois law, merchants who are victims of shoplifting are entitled to sue the offender in civil court. If the shoplifter is a minor under the age of 18, then their parents or guardians can be held liable.

According to the law, retailers are allowed to recover the following:

  1. Actual damages equal to the full retail value of the merchandise;
  2. An amount not less than $100 nor more than $1,000; plus
  3. Attorney's fees and court costs.
Demand Letters From Retailers - Civil Demand Letters

Store owners, especially big retail chains, often retain the services of a law firm to send out letters to every person caught shoplifting in their store. Such letters are commonly called "civil demand letters." In these letters, the merchant demands money to cover the cost of retail theft prevention. Merchants send out those letters even if the person was found not guilty of shoplifting or if they were never arrested, charged, and prosecuted. If somebody is caught shoplifting in their store, they can expect the civil demand letter from the retailer. These letters are sent in bulk with the merchants hoping that the recipient will pay the requested amount. If you ignore the letter, you may receive additional letters requesting an even greater amount. While the retailer can sue you, it is fairly rare for a retailer to take this step. You do not actually owe any money unless you are sued and the retailer wins.

Contact a Chicago Shoplifting Defense Lawyer

Feel free to contact our criminal defense lawyers to discuss your case. You can reach us by calling (847) 390-8500. Our experienced attorneys will provide you with the representation you deserve.

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