Although theft seems like a simple concept to understand on the surface level, it can actually be pretty complex in a legal sense. Theft comes in various shapes and forms. And in Illinois, the more serious the conduct and the higher the value of the property or item stolen, the harsher the consequences will be.
To many, theft isn't a serious crime because at its simplest, it isn't a violent crime nor does it harm victims. But this couldn't be further from the truth. Theft can be charged as a felony and lead to serious prison time.
If you live in Illinois and have been arrested for theft, contact Dolci & Weiland for help to fight any criminal charges. Our team of criminal defense attorneys are passionate about protecting the rights of our clients and fiercely defending their charges. We believe a well-informed client is a successful client. This is why we make it our duty answer all of your questions, provide you with options, and make ourselves accessible to you at any time to ensure you have the best defense on your side.
What Constitutes Theft in Illinois?
According to Illinois statutes (720 ILCS 5/16-1(a)), a person commits theft when he or she knowingly:
- Obtains or exerts unauthorized control over another's property
- Obtains by deception control over another's property
- Obtain by threat control over another's property
- Obtains control over stolen property knowing that the property was stolen, or under such circumstances as he or she would reasonably believe that the property was stolen; or
- Obtains or exerts control over property in the custody of any law enforcement agency or anyone acting on behalf of a law enforcement agency who explicitly represents to the person that the property was stolen or who represents to the person the circumstances that would reasonably induce him or her to believe that the property was stolen
In addition to obtaining or exerting control over property that isn't yours, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you have also:
- Intended to deprive the owner of the use or benefit of the property forever
- Knowingly used, concealed or abandoned the property in such a way as to permanently deprive the original owner of its use or benefit; or
- 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
Theft Penalties in Illinois
Illinois prosecutes theft according to the nature of the offense. Factors like market value, the place where the theft occurred and prior convictions are taken into account by the courts when determining a sentence. Here's a deeper look at theft offenses and their penalties.
- Class A misdemeanor: The property stolen is valued at up to $500. This offense carries penalties of one year in prison and up to $2,500 in fines.
- Class 4 felony: If the theft was committed in a school, governmental property, or a place of worship, or committed by a person with a prior theft conviction, this offense is punishable by one to three years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
- Class 3 felony: The property stolen is valued somewhere between $500 to $10,000. This offense carries penalties of two to five years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
- Class 2 felony: The property stolen is $10,000 to $100,000 in value. This could land you a punishment of three to seven years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
- Class 1 felony: The property stolen is $100,000 to $500,000 in value. This is punishable by four to 15 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
- Class X felony: The property stolen is more than $1,000,000 in value. This offense carries penalties of six to 30 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
Potential Defenses for Theft Charges
An Illinois criminal defense attorney has the expertise and knowledge to utilize several potential defenses to reduce the severity of your sentence. In some cases, a legal defense may be so convincing that it causes your charges to be dropped altogether. There are several possible defenses that are used in theft cases. They include:
You didn't intend to permanently deprive the owner of the property. In order to be convicted of a theft crime, it must be proven that there was intent to take the property permanently. If there is proof that you just intended to borrow the item, for example, you can't be convicted of theft.
You were coerced to steal the property. If someone coerced you by the threat to take the property, then you can't be convicted of this crime.
Charged with Theft in Illinois? We Can Help You
Now that you know what you're up against, you can begin to make decisions that will affect the outcome of your trial. The most important decision you can make in this predicament is to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney and secure representation. You should never defend yourself in any case, and you won't have to with the legal team at Dolci & Weiland on your side.
Time is of the essence 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 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.