Theft is the Most Common Criminal Charge in Illinois

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Theft is the Most Common Criminal Charge in Illinois

Theft, also known as larceny, is one of the most common criminal offenses in the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois. Sentencing and penalties for theft offenses vary drastically depending on the value of the stolen property and how the offender obtained it. High value items and violent circumstances typically result in greater penalties. If you’ve been charged with theft or larceny, contact a criminal justice attorney for help.

Common theft charges
In 2014, state law enforcement agencies reported 97,152 theft incidents in Cook County, more than any other criminal offense. (Burglary came in second with 22,603 recorded offenses.) Now, all of those charges were not identical. Again, the method used to steal property, the value of the property, and the previous record of the offender all come into play. Larceny and theft charges in Illinois include:

Theft (720 ILCS 5/16-1): This charge covers just about everything you think of when you think about theft. However, you may not know that it includes taking ownership of previously stolen property. So, if a friend shoplifts and gives the stolen goods to you, you could be charged with theft. This charge also includes threatening or deceiving another person in order to gain control of their property.

Theft of lost or mislaid property (720 ILCS 5/16-2): Say you find a cell phone on a park bench and take it home, only to find out it belongs to your neighbor. If you do not give the phone back after finding out who it belongs to, you could be charged with theft. If you do not use the phone to try to connect with the owner to give it back, you could be charged with theft.

Theft-related devices (720 ILCS 5/16-6): Being caught with devices or items used in larceny activity could be enough to earn you a criminal charge. This includes keys to coin-operated machines, tools for disabling anti-theft gadgets, and theft-detection shields. For instance, a bag coated in material that prevents retail store sensors from picking up security tags is an example of a theft-related device.

There are also more specific charges associated with certain items, like the theft of motor vehicle parts and accessories.

Sentencing and penalties
A larceny charge could result in anything from a Class A Misdemeanor to a Class 4 Felony, depending on the circumstances (and your representation). The various situations below outline some options.

  • Stealing property valued at $500 or less is a Class A Misdemeanor if the owner is not present. The charge is increased to a Class 4 Felony if the offender has previously been charged with crimes like burglary, robbery, home invasion, or several others.
  • Stealing property valued at $500 or less is a Class 3 Felony if the owner is present.
  • Stealing property valued between $10,000 and $100,000 is a Class 2 Felony.
  • Stealing property valued between $500 and $10,000 (without the owner present) is a Class 3 Felony.
  • A theft of lost or mislaid property charge could result in a Class B Misdemeanor if the property is valued less than $500 and a Class A Misdemeanor if valued between $500 and $10,000. Anything beyond $10,000 is a Class 4 Felony.
  • Stealing from a school or place or worship will always increase the penalty, as will stealing property that belongs to a government organization.

Keep in mind, additional charges could be added to a larceny charge if assault or weapons are involved. If you or someone you know has been arrested for or charged with theft or larceny, contact Richard at Fenbert & Associates for a free consultation.