What Happens If I’ve Been Charged With Shoplifting in Springfield?
By Dan Noll on February 20th, 2015 in
Shoplifting is considered a serious crime in the State of Illinois, and you could be facing some stiff potential penalties that include fines and jail times. The involved merchant can also sue you for damages, a financial strain you’d be stuck dealing with after your case has been through court.
In this state, retail theft can be committed in more than way. Check out the following list to see examples of what’s considered retail theft in Illinois:
- Taking merchandise away without paying the full retail price;
- Switching merchandise to another container with the intention of paying less than its true retail value;
- Tampering with labels or price tags;
- Making false merchandise returns;
- Keeping merchandise once your lease has expired; and
- Defeating an anti-theft device.
The exact penalties you’re facing depend on what you’ve been charged with, and it can get complex. In cases where the shoplifted property is worth less than $301 dollars total, it’s a Class A misdemeanor, and it carries a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of not more than $2,500. However, if you used an emergency exit to leave the merchant’s store, that makes the charge a Class 4 felony and the possible penalties one to three years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
About Court: What Will Happen
During your very first court appearance, you’ll be called up by the judge, told what you’re charged with, and given the possible penalties. It’s possible the prosecutor will offer you a plea deal, which involves you pleading guilty and accepting the penalties offered. You can’t argue your case during your first appearance in any way. If you don’t take a plea deal and plead not guilty, you’ll get a trial date, and it’s there that you can defend yourself against the charges you’re facing.
It’s important that you don’t admit to any wrongdoing or give information out about the case until you’ve spoken to an experienced criminal defense attorney in Springfield IL. There may be issues with your case that you are not even aware of, such as a violation of your rights, that could help you out. Being convicted of shoplifting can have a serious impact on the rest of your life even if you don’t serve jail time as that record will follow you around when you’re trying to get a new job or to rent an apartment.
You might be able to take part in an alternative program under certain circumstances, including if you’ve never been charged before. Successful completion of these programs, which include things like paying back the merchant and community service, can lead to charges being dropped and a clean record, so you owe it to yourself to seek out experienced legal help if you’re facing a shoplifting charge.