Theft is a broad term that covers a range of criminal behaviors punishable by law in the state of Illinois. Often times, the severity of the crime will hinge on the value of the items stolen and/or the use of weapons or force to complete the theft. Many accused of Chicago theft crimes choose to fight the charges against them without the assistance of an attorney. These charges can be serious and may carry severe punishments if convicted. To maximize your defense, and to understand the charges against you, it is incredibly important to enlist the help of an experienced Chicago theft crime attorney.
The knowledgeable theft crime attorneys at Kost Law have a history of successfully defending clients against theft crime charges in Chicago. We provide quality legal representation to those accused of various theft crimes – including retail theft, identity theft, car theft, and burglary – and help to minimize punishments they may face.
Illinois Theft Law
Theft is a broad term that encompasses several slightly different criminal behaviors. Put simply, theft is the act of knowingly taking control over another’s property without permission, causing that person to lose the enjoyment or benefit of the property.
More specifically, in Illinois, as proscribed in 720 ILCS 5/16/1(a), a person commits theft when he or she knowingly obtains control over the property of another:
- Obtains or exerts unauthorized control over property of another;
- Obtains by deception control over property of another;
- Obtains by threat control over property of another;
- Obtains control over stolen property, and knows or should have known the property was stolen;
- Obtains or exerts control over property in the custody of law enforcement or anyone acting on behalf of law enforcement who explicitly represents that the property was stolen or who represents circumstances that would reasonably induce the belief that the property was stolen.
To unlawfully take the property of another person, it is also required that they:
- Intend to deprive that person of the use and benefit of such property, and
- Conceal, use, or abandon the property in such a way as to effectively cause that deprivation, either temporarily or permanently.
Common forms of theft in Illinois include:
- Delivery Container Theft: Where a person knowingly takes a delivery package or container of which they are not a recipient.
- Retail Theft: Commonly referred to as “shoplifting,” where a person knowingly takes merchandise from a store or retailer.
- Online Theft: Illinois breaks this down into three categories, each of which involve a different aspect of online theft. They include:
- Online Sale of Stolen Property
- Online Theft By Deception
- Electronic Fencing
- Identity Theft: Where a person knowingly and purposefully uses the personal information of another as their own to fraudulently obtain goods, money, or services.
- Burglary: Where a person knowingly enters another person’s dwelling or vehicle with the intent to commit a felony or theft.
Theft crimes in Illinois are extensive, and the ones we have outlined above indicate the wide range of activities that can fall under its umbrella. Due to the expansive nature of theft crimes in Illinois it can be difficult to understand the charges against you if you have been accused of a theft crime in Chicago. An experienced theft crime attorney can help to ensure your Constitutional rights remain intact and respected by the police as you fight the theft crime charges against you. At Kost Law, our attorneys are dedicated to helping our clients fight theft crime charges for acts they may or may not have committed. Having the right attorney on your side could be the difference between jail time and probation. If you have been charged with a theft crime in Chicago contact us today to learn more about how we may be able to help you.
Penalties for Theft Crimes in Chicago
In Illinois, theft crimes encompass a broad spectrum of criminal behavior. As a result, the punishments and penalties for theft crimes in Chicago are quite varied. Penalties range from misdemeanor offenses to felonies, and the punishments will increase with the severity of the crime. Factors that may affect the severity of the punishment include:
- The value of the item(s)/property stolen;
- Theft from a person vs. theft from an unpopulated location;
- Certain classifications of individuals or locations;
- The presence of a weapon during the theft; and
- The use of force in committing the crime.
The punishment for taking personal property directly from a person, for example, may be more severe than that for taking personal property from someone’s vacant car. Theft from certain classes of individuals – such as the elderly – and locations – such as a school, place of worship, or government building – may also carry an increased penalty.
Punishments for theft crimes in Illinois are codified in ILCS Section 5/16-1 and include:
- Class A Misdemeanor: Theft of property – other than that from another’s person – of less than $500. Punishable by up to 1 year in prison and/or a fine of no more than $2,500.
- Class 4 Felony: Theft of property – other than that from another’s person – at a school, place of worship, or government property, or by a person previously convicted of a related crime. Punishable by 1-3 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
- Class 3 Felony: Theft from another’s person of no more than $500, or theft of property – other than from another’s person – of between $500 – $10,000. Punishable by 2-5 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
- Class 2 Felony: Theft of property between $10,000 – $100,000. Punishable by 3-7 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
- Class 1 Felony: Theft of property between $500,000 – $1 Million. Punishable by 4-15 years in prison without probation and a fine of up to $25,000.
- Class X Felony: Theft of property exceeding $1 Million. Punishable by 6-30 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
If convicted of a theft crime in Illinois you may also be vulnerable to penalties in a civil lawsuit. These may include the value of the items stolen, expenses and injuries incurred by the victim of your crimes, as well as court costs and fees.
If you have been charged with a theft crime in Chicago, contact an experienced attorney immediately to discuss your legal rights and options. Without the assistance of a seasoned attorney who understands the intricacies of the law you may face serious jail time. To learn more about how we may be able to help you fight a Chicago theft crime conviction, contact us today.
Possible Defenses to Theft Charges
There are a number of defenses that can be asserted if you have been accused of a theft crime in Illinois. These include:
- Lack of the necessary intent to permanently deprive another of the use of their property;
- Mistake of fact;
- Duress or coercion;
- Insanity or mental illness; or
Contact Our Chicago Theft Law Attorneys Today
If you have been accused of a theft crime in Illinois do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kost Law. We will review the details of your case, explain your rights, and discuss any defenses that may be available to clear you of the charges. We have a track record of successfully helping wrongfully-accused clients fight theft crime charges filed against them.
 720 ILCS 5/16-30
 720 ILCS 5/19-1