Attorney James G. Dimeas
Call To Talk to a Highly Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

Retail Theft

Chicago Retail Theft Attorney – Chicago Retail Theft Lawyer-Defending Retail Theft Cases

The typical Retail Theft case is what is commonly considered shoplifting.  It's basically walking out of a store without paying for merchandise.  If you walk past the last place of purchase, which is usually the cash register, without paying for something, you are considered to be committing the Illinois crime of Retail Theft.  You can also be charged with a Retail Theft if you change the price tags on an item or it you intentionally failed to scan something at a self-checkout counter.  Most people think that if they are stopped by store security if they just apologize and pay for the item then nothing will happen.  Or if the police are called to the store and they are nice to the police and apologize for what they did that nothing will happen to them.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Walking out of the store, or past a cash register, without paying for something is a very serious crime in Illinois.  You can be arrested and charged with a crime that could carry a potential jail sentence.  Any statements you make to the store security or to the police can be used against you in court.  

You need the assistance of an experienced Retail Theft lawyer who understands how to handle Retail Theft cases to make sure that your record stays clean. Before doing anything, such as communicating with anyone, you need to talk to an experienced Retail Theft lawyer, like James Dimeas, that knows what they are doing. Chicago Retail Theft Lawyer, James Dimeas, has been handling Retail Theft cases throughout Cook County, DuPage County and Kane County for 25 years.

Highly Experienced Retail Theft Lawyer

James Dimeas has spent 25 years representing people charged with Retail Theft. He has seen virtually every type of case possible.  He has been exposed to the surveillance and investigative techniques of all of the major retailers and understands how store security investigates retail theft cases and how they compile and store their evidence.  His experience with Retail Theft cases gives him the ability to challenge cases in a unique and complex manner.  His extensive experience with Retail Theft cases has given him an understanding of Retail Theft cases that only experience can give an attorney.  James Dimeas will use his understanding and experience with Retail Theft cases to expose weaknesses in the state’s case and make sure that this case does not stay on your record and does not follow you around the rest of your life.

What is Considered Retail Theft in Illinois?

The criminal Retail Theft Illinois statute can be found at 720 ILCS 6/16-25. The most obvious way that you can be guilty of a Retail Theft in Illinois is by walking past the cash register, or out of a store with something without paying for it.  But sometimes it's not that simple.  There are other things you can do that could make you guilty of a Retail Theft in Illinois.

  • If you alter the price tag of an item you can be guilty of a Retail Theft even if you paid for the item.  This includes altering the barcode of an item so that the effect is that the price of the item changes.

  • Using a device, or a substance, that jams the security alarm of an establishment.  An example is to put items into a bag that is lined with some substance that jams the security at the exit.

  • Not returning an item that has been leased within 10 days after receiving written notice demanding return of the item.  This type of Retail Theft charge is less common but it does happen.

  • Failing to scan an item at a self-checkout register which results in you not paying the full price for all the items that you walked out of the store with.

  • Making a fake return of an item.  This happens when you return an item that did not belong to you.

The Retail Theft laws in Illinois are written in such a way that they benefit the stores.  If you walk out of the store with something without paying for it the law presumes that you intended to steal that item.  It's not a defense to say that you forgot to pay for the item or that you forgot to take off the item of clothing after you tried on or forgot to remove the ring when you tried it on at the jewelry counter. That's why you should not make any statements to store security or to the police without talking to an experienced criminal defense lawyer, like James Dimeas, who understands the complexities of the Retail Theft laws in Illinois. What a typical shopper may consider to be an honest mistake may be considered guilt of a Retail Theft under Illinois Law.  That's why it is critical that you retain an experienced Retail Theft attorney, like James Dimeas, who understands the law and understands what needs to get done for you to avoid having a criminal conviction on your record which will come up in a background search.

Criminal Penalties for Retail Theft in Illinois

Generally, the penalties for Retail Theft depend on the value of the items that were stolen.  If the value of the item was $300 or less, you will probably be facing a Class A misdemeanor which carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a fine up to $2,500.  If the value of the merchandise was more than $300 you can be charged with a class 4 felony which carries a possible prison sentence of between 1 to 3 years.  However, an experienced Retail Theft criminal defense lawyer, like James Dimeas, can use their knowledge of the law and experience, to obtain a penalty that allows you to keep this case off your record.  It is critical that you hire an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney that can keep this off of your record.

The Civil Penalty for Retail Theft

In addition to a criminal penalty, you may also have a civil penalty imposed on you.  Under Illinois Law if you try to steal something from a retail establishment, a store, they have the right to sue you for civil damages, or money damages, in civil court.  The maximum amount they can sue you for is $1,000.  After you are arrested for a Retail Theft you will probably receive a letter from a lawyer representing the store requesting an amount up to $1,000 in money damages from you.  This claim for money is separate from the criminal case and will not affect the criminal case.  But if you do not pay the store's lawyer, they will turn over the claim to a collection agency and they will put this on your credit report and they will try to collect this debt.  You will also need an attorney to handle the claim for civil damages as well.

The Final Penalty. Your Reputation. Your Record. Your Future

Perhaps the most serious penalty you are facing is your reputation.  A Retail Theft conviction on your background could make it virtually impossible to get a job.  Almost every employer today does a thorough background search before they hire an employee.  Most employers will not even consider hiring someone who has a Retail Theft in their background.   Some employers conduct periodic background searches on current employees.  This potential penalty can be more severe than any criminal or civil penalty that you could be facing.  You need to hire a Retail Theft lawyer that understands what this means for your future and a lawyer who understands how important it is to make sure that this case does not go on your record and does not follow you around the rest of your life. Making sure you can pass a background search is critical to your future.

James Dimeas Will Handle Your Retail Theft Case Correctly and Keep It Off Your Record

James Dimeas has spent 25 years representing people charged with Retail Theft throughout Cook County, DuPage County and Kane County.  He understands the importance of protecting your reputation and keeping your criminal record clean.  James Dimeas understands that your entire future could be riding on the outcome of this Retail Theft case.  He will examine all of the police reports and the store security reports.  He will review the surveillance tapes and witness statements and examine in detail the arrest procedures to come up with an effective strategy that will either result in the dismissal of the Retail Theft charges or a result that will avoid a conviction on your criminal record. He will work tirelessly to make sure this case does not appear on a background search.

Retail Theft lawyer, James Dimeas, has been recognized as a "Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer" by The National Trial Lawyers.  He has been recognized as a "Best DUI Attorney" and recognized by Expertise as a "Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago." The American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys have named James Dimeas a "10 Best Attorney Client Satisfaction."

Contact James Dimeas anytime at 847-807-7405 to discuss your Retail Theft case. James Dimeas will evaluate your case and give you advice about how to avoid a conviction on your record. James Dimeas is available 24 hours a day for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case and to help you with your Retail Theft case.