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Overview of Theft Charges

Theft crimes involve taking someone's property without their permission. These crimes are distinguished by how someone steals this property, the type of property that is stolen and the value that is stolen.

In Illinois, only misdemeanor theft charges can be expunged or sealed, depending on a person's criminal background. Felony theft convictions are not eligible for expunging or sealing unless authorized by a governor's pardon.

If you've been charged with a theft crime, don't hesitate to contact the legal professionals at Dolci & Weiland. Our team is passionate about protecting the rights of our clients and achieving trust justice. One of the keys to success is to have an adept knowledge of the gravity of your charges. Here's an overview of the state law concerning the online sale of stolen property.


Petty theft is one of the most commonly committed theft crimes. Most people tend to underestimate the potential severity of this crime because, at its simplest, it isn't a violent crime nor does it technically harm people. But depending on the nature of the crime, it could land you serious prison time.

According to Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/16-1(a), a person commits petty theft when he or she knowingly obtains or exerts control over property that isn't theirs. In order to convict a person of this crime, a prosecutor has to prove a couple of elements beyond a reasonable doubt: They include:

  1. The defendant intends to deprive the owner of the use or benefit of the property forever
  2. The defendant knowingly used, concealed, or abandoned the property in such a way as to permanently deprive the original owner of its use or benefit; or
  3. Used, concealed, or abandoned the property knowing that such use, concealment or abandonment will probably permanently deprive the original owner of its use or benefit 

Much like the majority of theft crimes, petty theft is prosecuted according to a number of factors, including market value, the location of the theft, and prior criminal history. The consequences range from a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by one year in prison and up to $2,500, to a Class X felony, which carries penalties of up to a whopping 30 years in prison and $25,000 in fines.

Retail Theft

There are several forms of retail theft. Some associate this crime with its most common form, shoplifting. But many people may not understand that this crime extends beyond traditional shoplifting accusations. Illinois law goes into great detail about the various actions that could constitute this crime.

According to Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/16-25, the following actions could land you a conviction for retail theft:

  • Taking an item without paying for it
  • Using a device to disarm or jam security alarms
  • Altering an item's barcode or price tag
  • Refusing to return leased property
  • Exiting through an emergency door

Retail theft can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony crime. As with most theft crimes, the higher the item is valued, the more severe the penalties become. The legal ramifications range from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 3 felony, which is punishable by two to five years in prison.

Identity Theft

On the spectrum of theft crimes, identity theft is definitely one of the most serious offenses. And because this crime has become much easier to commit due to the internet, Illinois law enforcement has focused on investigating these cases and cracking down on offenders.

Identity theft, according to Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/16-30, involves knowingly using the personal information that you've unlawfully acquired of another person for gain. Using this information to gain access to other important records or information is also a crime under this statute.

If you've been accused of this crime, you need legal representation because the consequences are severe. In fact, all variations of identity theft are classified as felonies under Illinois law. The penalties range from a Class 4 felony to a Class X felony. Both of which have penalties involving prison time.

Online Sale of Stolen Property

It is against the law to sell property that has been stolen over the internet. Local law enforcement has worked incredibly hard over the last few years to crack down on people who commit this crime.

According to Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/16J-10, a person who commits the offense of online sale of stolen property when he or she uses or accesses the internet with the intent of selling property gained through unlawful means. It's important to note that whether or not the person who is selling the property stole the property doesn't matter.

The online sale of stolen property is a felony under Illinois law. The penalties range from a Class 4 felony to a Class 2 felony. Both of which have penalties of prison time.

Charged With a Theft Crime? Dolci & Weiland Can Help

Now that you know the potential legal repercussions of theft crimes, wouldn't it make the most sense to fight your charges to avoid a conviction?

The most important decision you can make in this predicament is to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney and secure legal representation. You should never defend yourself in any case, especially in one like this one with so much at stake - and you won't have to with the legal team at Dolci & Weiland on your side.

Timing is everything in criminal defense cases. It is best to obtain representation upon immediate notice of your charges.  To speak with a member of our team, fill out an online case evaluation form or give us a ring at the office closest to you today. The number for our downtown Chicago location is 312-238-9007, for our DuPage office, call 630-261-9098.