There are lots of different kinds of theft. Someone could steal a lighter from a gas station, steal someone’s car, or take money from their employer.
While each type of theft is a little different, many theft charges in Chicago are lumped together under current laws.
1. Theft Of An item From A Retail Outlet Worth Less Than $500 Is A Class A Misdemeanor
Stealing a pen worth $3 from an office supply store seems like it would not be as serious as stealing a watch worth $450, but under the law, they are both Class A Misdemeanors.
In Illinois, theft of any item valued between $1 and $499 is a Class A Misdemeanor. A Class A Misdemeanor is the most serious type of misdemeanor, just one step below a felony.
It can result in punishment of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
2. Theft Of Any Item $500 Or More From A Retail Outlet Is A Felony
Those who are found guilty of stealing something worth $500 or more face felony charges. The type of felony depends on how much the item is worth.
An item worth between $10,000-$100,000, such as a car or expensive jewelry is a Class 2 Felony, punishable by 3-7 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000. Prison sentences increase depending on the value of the item.
3. Theft Of An Item From A Person Is A Felony
The law gives harsher punishments to those stealing from a person than those stealing from a retail outlet. That means that stealing something from a person, no matter how small, is a felony.
Stealing something worth less than $500 is a Class 3 Felony, and it can result in a sentence of 2-5 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
Another way theft of a small item can result in a felony is if it occurs in a place given special protection under the law.
Examples of these places include a school or a place of worship. Also, a theft charge will be more serious if the item stolen was governmental property.
4. Multiple Theft Charges Can Result In More Serious Penalties
If someone who has previously been found shoplifting is caught stealing a second time, the charge is automatically a felony and can result in prison time.
That is true even if the person steals something of little value the second time (which would normally be a Class A Misdemeanor).
5. Theft Is A “Crime Of Moral Turpitude”
Some crimes have special classifications that have punishments beyond jail, probation, and fees. Theft is included in those special classifications, and it is considered a crime of moral turpitude.
A crime of moral turpitude is a crime that, according to lawmakers, shows that the defendant lacks certain standards of morality.
Even though the classification does not make any difference when it comes to punishment, it can cause other issues for the person found guilty.
For example, some professions, such as working a law office (as a lawyer or assistant), retail, banking, and teaching may exclude people who have been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude.
6. There Are Defenses Available For Theft Charges
There are some defenses available for those who are charged of theft crimes. These defenses include:
- Lack of intent – Usually, this defense does not work if the item stolen was from a store or public place. But, if, for example, a person took their roommate’s car out for a joyride and intended to return the vehicle to the owner, the person could not be found guilty of theft since they did not intend to keep the car.
- Mistake of fact – This defense applies when, for example, someone takes another person’s laptop, believing it was their own. Since there was no intent to steal, then no theft occurred.
- Duress and Coercion – If someone is forced to steal by a third party under a threat of harm, then this defense may be available. An example of this would be if someone threatened to kill another person unless that person stole a vehicle for them.
- Entrapment – While entrapment is fairly uncommon, it can be used as a defense if it can be proven that the person convicted of theft only stole because of influence by a governmental actor, such as an undercover officer.
- Insanity – A person who is insane legally cannot have the intent to steal. This doesn’t mean that they will simply be released. They may be ordered to a mental institution or placed with a guardian.
- Owner’s consent – If it can be proven that the owner of the property allowed the person to take the item, then the person charged cannot be convicted of theft.
It is important to note that someone can still be charged with theft even though they later return the item. Theft occurs once someone has the intent to steal and follows through with it.
Contact Abdallah Law Today
As shown above, theft is a serious crime and those found guilty face prison, fines, and a criminal record. Contact our offices at 312-854-2677 to schedule your free consultation today.