Shoplifting becomes a felony when a person is accused of taking an item(s) from a store that the cost of the items is greater than $300.00.
The $300.00 amount between a misdemeaner (under $300.00 value is a Class A misdemeanor) and 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 alleged to be taken is far over $300.00, while others 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. The following steps must be taken:
- Obtaining copies of all of the police reports and any video. Video is more common over the last few years as video is more present in stores.
- Meet with my client and learn the client’s version of events is also important, although often a 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 pre-trial 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 possible 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 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 they often suggest I write a letter to the prosecutor’s supervision and ask for the charge to be reduced. This step delays the pretrial hearing, but keep 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 who did not witness any of the alleged acts that a person is charged with. Additionally, at court the police officer often does not even testify because he did not see anything, he or she simply made the arrest. The only time a police officer is relevant to a trial is if the person arrested confesses.
The police reports simple state what various witnesses claim, police reports are not evidence and are not allowed to be used against you in court. What is used against you is what the witnesses say. This is why getting a witnesses 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.