Theft Crimes in Illinois
The basic crime of theft in Illinois involves a person taking unauthorized control of someone else’s property. Theft may also occur when a person gains control of another’s property by deception or threat.
The seriousness of a theft crime is generally determined by two factors:
- The value of the property stolen; and
- Whether or not the property was taken from the person.
Theft of property valued at $500 or less which is not taken from the person is a Class A misdemeanor, carrying a maximum penalty of less than one year in jail and a fine of no more than $2,500. However, penalties for theft of higher value property and/or from a person are punished more severely. For example, theft of property exceeding$100,000 but not exceeding $500,000 is a Class 1 felony, punishable by 4-15 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
A theft crime may also be treated more severely under other circumstances, such as when the theft takes place in a school or place of worship, or if government property was stolen.
There are also specific types of theft, including:
- Theft of lost property;
- Theft of labor or services;
- Theft of use of property; and
- Theft from a coin-operated machine.
There’s even a special provision that makes failure to return library books a crime under certain circumstances.
Illinois law also criminalizes several theft-related acts, such as:
- Embezzlement – The theft of property entrusted to the care of the defendant. Embezzlement occurs most commonly in an employment context, but may apply in other circumstances in which the defendant was entrusted with custody and control of another’s property.
- Burglary – Entering a building (or certain other structure) without permission, and with the intent of committing a felony or a theft within.
- Shoplifting – Illinois law prohibits not only theft of merchandise from a store, but also other means of obtaining merchandise without making full payment, such as altering price tags.
These crimes may carry serious penalties and, as crimes indicating dishonesty, may impact employment opportunities and other areas of your life. But, a theft-related charge doesn’t necessarily mean a theft-related conviction.
If you’ve been charged with theft or a related crime, schedule a free consultation right now by calling 309-752-8500. I’ll assess the case against you, explain the possible penalties and help you understand your options.