Understanding Illinois Property Crimes Continued: Theft

theft, misdemeanor, felony, Rolling Meadows Criminal Defense AttorneyThe circumstances of any criminal case will generally dictate how the case is prosecuted, and under which charges. In many situations, it can be rather confusing, as certain charges may seem similar in definition, but are actually very different in application. Commonly misunderstood offenses include those related to property crimes, including burglary, theft, and robbery. Last week, this blog discussed some of the details related to burglary charges in Illinois, and this week, the focus will be on charges related to theft.

Theft Defined

At its most basic, as described by Illinois statute, theft is committed by a person who “obtains or exerts unauthorized control over property of the owner.” This includes taking of property by deception or threat, and taking of property reasonably known or assumed to have been stolen. The action must also include the intent to deprive the owner of use, of the property permanently.

Theft, sometimes referred to as larceny outside of Illinois, is prosecutable on a number of different levels based on the circumstances of the offense and the value of the property. It is also important to note that “property” may also include labor, services, intellectual or creative works, and utilities in addition to money and tangible goods.

Prosecution of Theft

Charges of theft are often combined with other charges based on the nature of the situation. For example, a suspect may be charged with both burglary for breaking into a residence and theft for stealing from the owners. However, even when considered individually, the potential consequences of theft are extremely serious. Factors which may increase the levels of prosecution include the location of the action, the property’s rightful owner, and if the property was taken from the person of the owner.

Theft of property valued at $500 or less is a Class A misdemeanor, and theft of property valued at more than $500 and less than $10,000 is considered a Class 3 felony. Taking of property from the owner’s person, committing the theft in a school or church, and theft of government property generally bump the charges up one class. For example, theft of government property valued at less than $500 is a Class 4 felony, rather than a Class A misdemeanor.

Provisions in the law permit prosecution for charges of theft with increasing severity based on the value of the property up to a Class X felony for property valued at over $1 million. Class X charges are also possible in certain cases of theft be deception.

Legal Representation for Theft Charges

Charges for theft can result in penalties ranging from smaller fines and minimal prison sentences all the way up to 30 years or more in prison. Therefore, if you have are facing charges for theft or similar offenses, you need a lawyer who knows how to help. Contact an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney today for a free consultation. Our team will work with you and is committed to providing top-quality legal services throughout your case.

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