During the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois residents and people across the country have struggled with job loss, illness, and the inability to pay for basic needs for themselves and for their family members. As a result, theft offenses, and retail theft offenses, in particular, have increased significantly since the pandemic started. Indeed, according to a report in Business Insider, shoplifting theft charges of food items, baby supplies, and other household goods have been on the rise as hundreds of thousands of people continue to file for unemployment on a weekly basis across the country. Given that it may take years before many Americans recover economically from the setbacks of the pandemic, theft charges during the COVID-19 pandemic likely will continue.
If you have been arrested for or charged with theft offenses during the pandemic, what do you need to know?
Retail Theft Can be Charged as a Misdemeanor or a Felony Offense
Under Illinois law, there are various types of theft offenses. When it comes to retail theft, the theft offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony offense depending upon the amount or value of the property stolen. Generally speaking, anything valued at under $300 is charged as a Class A misdemeanor, while anything valued at over $300 is charged as a Class 3 felony.
Penalties for Retail Theft Vary Depending Upon the Amount or Value Stolen
The penalties for a retail theft offense will depend upon whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges (based on the value of the property alleged to have been stolen). For a Class A misdemeanor, you can face up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. If you are facing a subsequent offense for a low-value item, the offense will be charged as a Class 4 felony and can be punished with up to three years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. For thefts over $300 charged as Class 3 felony offenses, you can face up to five years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
You Should Hire an Experienced Illinois Theft Defense Attorney Who Can Help You to Fight These Charges
If your family is struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic, the last thing that you need is a criminal conviction that results in a financial penalty and jail time, making it even more difficult to earn an income and to pay for necessities. Accordingly, you need to hire an experienced theft defense attorney as soon as you can to begin working on a defense strategy that is tailored to the specific facts of your case. One of the experienced and compassionate Illinois criminal defense attorneys at our firm can speak with you today about your case.
Contact an Illinois Theft Defense Attorney
Are you facing theft charges? Whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges, it is critical to work with an aggressive Chicago theft defense attorney who can help you to fight the charges and to avoid a criminal conviction. Do not hesitate to get in touch with our firm to learn more about how we can help you build a strong defense. Contact the Law Offices of Jonathan Minkus today for more information.