Shoplifting becomes a felony when a person is accused of taking an item or items from a store and the cost of the items is greater than $300.00.
The $300.00 amount the separates a misdemeaner (under $300.00 value is a Class A Misdemeanor) from a felony (over $300.00 is a Class 4 Felony) is not an absolute line. Some police officers charge a person with misdemeanor shoplifting if the amount that they allegedly took is far over $300.00. Other police officers charge anything over $300.00 as a felony. The Illinois law on shoplifting is contained in the statute: 720 ILCS 5/16-25. You can read the actual law here.
How to Prevent a Shoplifting Felony from Going on your Record:
To have a felony shoplifting charge either reduced or dismissed, I have to approach the case with the expectation of having to do a trial. We must take the following steps:
- Obtain copies of all of the police reports and any video. Video has become more common over the last few years, as video cameras are more present in stores.
- Meeting with my client and learning the client’s version of events is also important. However, often the client did commit the act, and I still try to get the case either dismissed or reduced to a misdemeanor charge with court supervision so a felony does not appear on my client’s record.
- File pretrial motions. I will typically file a motion to quash the arrest or to suppress illegally obtained evidence. These motions will also allow me to test the sufficiency of the evidence while still keeping the possibility of having the charge reduced. Prosecutors will typically make their best offers and possibly reduce the charges on the days or hours leading up to my motion. If the prosecutor does not make an offer, I will conduct the hearing and obtain the witnesses’ testimony so that I know what the witnesses will say at trial.
- Submit a mitigation letter. Immediately before I conduct a pretrial motion (step 3), if a prosecutor does not agree to reduce the charges, I will often write a letter to the prosecutor’s supervision and ask them to reduce the charge. This step delays the pretrial hearing, but keeps the pressure of my pretrial motions on the prosecutor’s case.
These are the steps I take in almost every case to obtain a successful outcome.
Police reports do not contain detailed information:
The police reports are written by the police officer. However, the police officer did not witness any of the alleged acts you were charged with. Additionally, police officers often do not even testify at court because they did not see anything–they simply made the arrest. The only time a police officer is relevant to a trial is if the arrested person confesses.
The police reports simply state what various witnesses claim. Police reports are not evidence, and they cannot be used against you in court. However, what the witnesses say will be used against you. This is why getting a witness’s testimony is so important before conducting a trial.
For more specific information and to review the facts of your case, call Attorney Young for a no-obligation consultation.