In Illinois the crime of Shoplifting is called Retail Theft. Depending on the dollar value of the things you took, the case can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Generally, if the value is more than $300 then it is a felony, although exceptions exist if you steal gasoline or have a prior record.
The most common question we see is that the store sends the person a Civil Demand Letter after they've been let go demanding money for a "fine". People want to know whether they should pay the money. Sometimes these letters come even if the person wasn't criminally charges, but instead was let go. Sometimes stores demand the money upfront before letting you go.
In Illinois, a civil demand letter from a store is not a binding order. Stores do not have the authority to "fine" you without something more. The store is hoping to recover money from you for the theft that they stopped. The times people are required to pay money to the store (sometimes called restitution) is either:
- If you are charged criminally and found guilty and the restitution is ordered by the Judge to be paid as part of your sentence
- If the store sues you in civil court.
This post is not advising you whether or not to pay the fine. If you were arrested, you will be required to have a lawyer since the crime is punishable by potential jail time. Feel free to give us a call and we would be happy to talk to you about your charges.