Stealing is a crime that falls under several different offenses. While taking something that doesn’t belong to you, without permission, is always a crime, certain factors will determine the severity of the crime and what type of punishment is possible. The value of what is stolen, whether a person is present, and the how it is taken will all be considered when determining charges and penalties. The following are a variety of offenses that involve stolen property:
- Theft. Theft occurs when a person knowingly takes the property of another person. Depending on the value of what is stolen, this could be a misdemeanor or felony offense. Theft of property valued at less than $500 and taken when no person is present is a Class A misdemeanor. However, property valued at more than $500 or taken in the presence of a person is a felony. The type of felony is determined by the value of the property, the location from which it was stolen and whether a person was present. Property stolen from a school, place of worship or a government building is a felony even if the value is less than $500.
- Retail Theft. More commonly known as shoplifting, retail theft most often occurs when a person knowingly takes an item from a store without paying for it. There are also other behaviors that count as retail theft. When a person alters a price tag to pay less for an item, changes the packaging to pay less for an item, or rings up the item for less, that is also considered retail theft. The severity of the offense is determined by the value of what is stolen. Less than $300 is a Class A misdemeanor, and everything above is a felony.
- Robbery. The thing that separates robbery from theft is that the property is taken by force. To be considered robbery, the person must have (1) knowingly taken property, (2) by force or threat of force. Robbery is always a felony, but the severity of the felony is determined by the location from which it is taken, the age of the victim and whether a weapon was present. When a robbery occurs in a school, place of worship, daycare or group home, it is a Class 1 felony. If the victim is over 60 years old or disabled, the robbery is a Class 1 felony.
- Aggravated Robbery. Robbery becomes aggravated robbery with the presence (or threat) of a weapon or if a controlled substance is used to subdue the person. Just the threat of a weapon is enough to make it aggravated robbery, even if later it is determined that no weapon was present. Aggravated robbery is a Class 1 felony.
- Armed Robbery. Armed robbery occurs when a person carries a dangerous weapon or firearm when committing robbery. This is a Class X felony. Certain details will increase the sentence. 15 years are added to the sentence if a firearm is carried. 20 years are added if the firearm is discharged during the robbery. 25 years to life will be added if the firearm is discharged causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, permanent disfigurement or death.
- Burglary. Burglary occurs when a person enters, or remains within, a building, trailer, watercraft, aircraft, motor vehicle or railroad car with the intent to commit a felony or theft. Normally burglary is a Class 2 felony, but when it occurs in a daycare, school, or place or worship it becomes a Class 1 felony.
- Residential Burglary. When a person enters, or remains in, a home with the intention to commit a felony or theft, that is considered residential burglary. This includes if a person falsely represents him or herself as a representative of a government, construction, utility or communications entity to gain entrance to commit a felony or theft. Residential burglary is a Class 1 felony.
- Forgery. Forgery occurs when a person, with the intent to defraud, creates a false document or knowingly alters another document to make it false, knowingly delivers a false/altered document, has possession of a false/altered document with the intent to deliver, unlawfully uses a digital signature of another, or uses a signature device of another person to unlawfully create a digital signature. Forgery of an academic degree or coin is a Class A misdemeanor, while other forgeries are felonies. The severity of the felony is determined by the circumstances.
- Unlawful Use of a Credit Card. There are many ways to unlawfully use a credit card. The severity of the unlawful use is determined by the circumstances of the offense, ranging from a Class A misdemeanor to a felony. It is illegal to:
- Falsely obtain a credit card by deception: ie. using another person’s name, address or lying about employment.
- Possess another person’s credit card or debit card.
- Possess another person’s lost credit card.
- Use another person’s credit card or debit card.
- Sell another person’s credit card or debit card.
- Use a forged, expired or revoked credit or debit card.
- Use the credit card with the intent to defraud.
Criminal Penalties and Civil Liabilities
Theft related offenses have criminal penalties and civil liabilities. Criminal penalties for the offense are determined by the unique factors of each case. Civil liabilities are determined by the amount stolen.
- Criminal Penalties. Penalties of theft related offenses are specific to the offense. Misdemeanors have less than a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. Felonies have possible prison sentences of over a year to life, and fines of up to $25,000.
- Civil Liabilities. You may have to pay for the actual damages equal to the full retail value of what you stole, plus an additional fee, and possible court costs and attorney’s fees. Your actual liability will be determined by the court.
Criminal Defense Attorney
Theft related offenses can have severe penalties. In most cases, theft related offenses are felonies. This means the possibility of long sentences and high fines. It is essential to have a Chicago criminal defense attorney defending you against these charges. Never enter a courtroom without a criminal defense lawyer at your side. Contact Dennis F. Dwyer to discuss your theft related charges today.