Theft, also known as larceny, is a crime almost anywhere you go. However, different states have different views on the severity of the sentence for the crime. Further complicating matters, Illinois courts consider some instances of theft to be worse than others and therefore warranting more jail time and heftier fines for convicted defendants. Here is some information from professional Chicago criminal defense lawyers to answer the question, “Is theft a felony in Illinois?”
How Does Illinois Law Define Theft?
According to Illinois Statute 720 ILCS 5/16-1, theft is obtaining control over someone else’s property through deception, through threat, or otherwise without consent. If you do anything that could permanently keep someone’s property out of their possession, you could be prosecuted for larceny. Even taking something that you find may be considered theft if you know, or could have reasonably assumed, that the item was stolen.
What are the Different Sentences for Theft?
Just to quickly answer the main question, theft can indeed be a felony in Illinois. One can get a more informative answer by asking, “When exactly is theft a felony in Illinois?” In addition to listing the different offenses considered to be theft, Statute ILCS 720 5/16-1 also lists the conditions required for different sentences.
The severity is usually determined by the total value of the stolen property. The property’s fair cash market value at the time the theft took place will be considered its value during the trial. From a Class 4 felony onward, convicted defendants can be fined up to $25,000 regardless of the property’s value. What the property’s value affects is the range of years in prison that a convicted felon can be sentenced to spend.
The different sentences are as follows:
- If someone steals property valued between $500 and $10,000, they can be prosecuted for a Class 3 felony and, if convicted, imprisoned for 2-5 years. They can also face this felony level if they took the property from the owner’s person - for example, if they stole someone’s ring right off their finger at gunpoint.
- If the property stolen has a value ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the alleged thief could serve 3-7 years for a Class 2 felony.
- A Class 1 felony for theft entails stealing property worth between $100,000 and $500,000 and is punishable by imprisonment for 4-15 years. If the value is between half a million dollars and a full million dollars, it’s also a Class 1 felony, but in this circumstance it’s non-probational.
- Theft or property worth more than $1,000,000 is a Class X felony. Anyone convicted of this can spend as little as six years in prison or as many as 30.
Furthermore, any theft perpetrated in a school or a place of worship, and any theft of government property, is not just a felony. It is one felony class harsher than if the thief had taken property of the same value in other circumstances. For example, stealing $6,000 in property from a church would be a Class 2 felony, while stealing the same amount from a barbershop would be considered Class 3.
Is Theft Ever Not a Felony in Illinois?
There is actually one instance when theft would not be a felony in Illinois. If someone steals property valued at $500 or less, and not from the owner’s person, they would face a Class A Misdemeanor charge. Under Illinois law, a conviction could result in a $2,500 fine and less than one year of prison time.
However, there are still a few ways that a prosecutor can upgrade this to a Class 4 felony, which could raise the fine to $25,000 and the prison time to 1-3 years. This could happen if this is not the defendant’s first conviction for theft or related crimes like burglary and home invasion. Even if that is not the case, a defendant could still receive this enhanced charge if, as mentioned above, they commit the crime in a place of worship or school, or if the property stolen belongs to the government.
Contact Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys in Chicago
With over a quarter-century of experience in criminal defense, the lawyers at Mitchell S. Sexner and Associates LLC are professionals at handling theft-related cases. Remember that just because misdemeanor and felony theft cases carry potential jail or prison sentences does NOT mean that you will be imprisoned. In a great number of cases, our attorneys are able to negotiate favorable sentences that involve no jail at all. If you have any questions about Illinois laws regarding theft and sentencing, feel free to call us today at (312) 644-0444 for a free consultation.