People often imagine a shoplifter to be a young kid with a history of getting into trouble. However, the fact is that any person could wind up accused of shoplifting, from a teen or a mother of three kids to someone struggling with a mental illness or poverty.
No matter who you are, know that a shoplifting offense can affect you in several ways.
For most people, the criminal consequences of a shoplifting charge are the most upsetting, as they can include jail time, fines and probation.
More specifically, a person convicted of shoplifting in Illinois can face:
- Up to one year in prison and up to $2,500 in fines for a misdemeanor first offense involving less than $300
- Incarceration for between 2-5 years and up to $25,000 in fines for a felony first offense involving more than $300
Certain factors can increase the penalties and lead to added charges. For instance, if you leave through a designated emergency exit, law enforcement could tack on a felony charge and additional penalties.
Further, having a history of shoplifting charges on your record can lead to escalated charges and penalties.
This type of criminal charge can also affect your professional life. Having a shoplifting offense on your record could disqualify you from certain jobs. And an employer could fire you if the charge is a violation of an employment agreement or if you cannot work because you are in jail or prison.
The stigma of a shoplifting conviction could also tarnish your professional reputation, making other people less willing to work with or hire you.
It can be surprising to learn that shoplifting can affect someone’s personal life. It can strain relationships and be embarrassing. Parents can distrust their children after a shoplifting incident; spouses can be confused and angry; friends might cut ties with someone who commits a criminal offense.
For some people, acts like shoplifting can also be a symptom of a deeper issue, such as a health condition or sign of depression. Thus, they may require counseling, rehabilitation and other treatments.
Considering all the myriad ways a shoplifting offense can affect your life, it should be clear that defending yourself against this allegation to minimize consequences is critical.