Retail Theft

There are several ways an individual can commit retail theft. The most common type is taking merchandise without paying the full value.  The controlling Illinois Statute for that is 720 ILCS 5/16-25(a)(1) which provides that:

“A person commits retail theft when he/she knowingly takes possession of, carries away, transfers or causes to be carried away or transferred any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale in a retail mercantile establishment with the intention of retaining such merchandise or with the intention of depriving the merchant permanently of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the full retail value of such merchandise If any person removes merchandise beyond the last known station for receiving payments for that merchandise in that retail mercantile establishment such person shall be presumed to have possessed, carried away or transferred such merchandise with the intention of depriving the merchant permanently of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the full retail value of such merchandise.”

Other types of retail theft include:

  • Removing an item from one container to a different container.
  • An employee under charges merchandise offered for sale.
  • Falsely representing that you are the owner of certain merchandise or gift card and seeking to return the item for a cash refund, store credit or other exchange.
  • Using a theft-detection shielding device.
  • Failing to return rented property after being given written notice.


If the value of the merchandise is under $300.00, and the person has not previously been convicted of theft then the retail theft charge will be a Class A misdemeanor. The maximum penalties for the charge of retail theft, is up to 364 days in the county jail; up to 24 months court supervision, conditional discharge or probation; and/or fines up to $2,500.00. A conviction for theft related offense may not only affect employment, it may be used to impeach your credibility if you are called to testify in later court proceedings.

If you have a prior conviction for theft, regardless of the amount of the merchandise, you can be charged with a Class 4 Felony. What may have been a misdemeanor amount (under $300), can be enhanced by introducing the prior theft. The range of penalties for a Class 4 felony, is between one to three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections; up to 30 months probation or conditional discharge; and/or fines up to $25,000.00.


The State of Illinois treats all retail theft offenses as very serious matters. At Lawler Brown we understand that our legal representation must tailor to your specific life situation. You should feel confident in knowing you hired the right Defense Attorney to best represent your specific needs. No attorney can guarantee the outcome of a case. But rest assured, I will fight to ensure the best possible resolution in your case. Contact our office today for a free consultation.

Lawler Brown has offices in Williamson County and Gallatin County to better serve ALL of southern Illinois.

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