Although one might think that fees are the worst penalty to expect after keeping a library book, in Illinois, criminal prosecution is possible. This article of the Illinois Criminal Code describes crimes regarding the protection of library materials. These charges include library theft and vandalism of library materials. If convicted, a defendant could be fined up to $500 plus the value of the damages caused.
Need an Illinois criminal defense attorney? If you've been arrested for library theft in Illinois, call our Chicago criminal defense attorneys today at (312) 466-9466 to discuss your case.
The text below comes from Article 16B of the Illinois Criminal Code of 1961. This law may have changed -- please read the important legal disclaimer at the bottom of this page.
Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 - Article 16B
(720 ILCS 5/16B-1) (from Ch. 38, par. 16B-1)
Sec. 16B-1. Definitions. As used in this Article:
(a) "Library facility" includes any public library or museum, or any library or museum of an educational, historical or eleemosynary institution, organization or society.
(b) "Library material" includes any book, plate, picture, photograph, engraving, painting, sculpture, statue, artifact, drawing, map, newspaper, pamphlet, broadside, magazine, manuscript, document, letter, microfilm, sound recording, audiovisual material, magnetic or other tape, electronic data processing record or other documentary, written or printed material regardless of physical form or characteristics, or any part thereof, belonging to, or on loan to or otherwise in the custody of a library facility.
(c) "Premises of a library facility" means the interior of a building, structure or other enclosure in which a library facility is located and in which the library facility keeps, displays and makes available for inspection or borrowing library material, but for purposes of this Article, such premises do not include the exterior appurtenances to such building, structure or enclosure nor the land on which such building, structure or other enclosure is located.
(d) "Library card" means a card or plate issued by a library facility for purposes of identifying the person to whom the library card was issued as authorized to borrow library material, subject to all limitations and conditions imposed on such borrowing by the library facility issuing such card. (Source: P.A. 84-1308.) 720 ILCS 5/16B-2
(720 ILCS 5/16B-2) (from Ch. 38, par. 16B-2)
Sec. 16B-2. Library Theft. A person commits the offense of library theft when he or she:
(a) Knowingly and intentionally removes any library material from the premises of a library facility without authority to do so; or
(b) Knowingly and intentionally conceals any library material upon his or her person or among his or her belongings, while still in the premises of a library facility and in such manner that the library material is not visible through ordinary observation although there may be some notice of its presence, and removes such library material beyond the last point in the premises of that library facility at which library material may be borrowed in accordance with procedures established by that library facility for the borrowing of library material; or
(c) With the intent to deceive borrows or attempts to borrow any library material from a library facility by (i) use of a library card issued to another without the other's consent, or (ii) use of a library card knowing that it is revoked, cancelled or expired, or (iii) use of a library card knowing that it is falsely made, counterfeit or materially altered; or
(d) Borrows from a library facility library material which has an aggregate value of $50 or more pursuant to an agreement with or procedure established by the library facility for the return of such library material, and willfully without good cause fails to return the library material so borrowed in accordance with such agreement or procedure, and further willfully without good cause fails to return such library material within 30 days after receiving written notice by certified mail from the library facility demanding the return of such library material.
A person who violates this subsection (d) is liable to the library for the cost of postage and attorney fees. (Source: P.A. 87-898.) 720 ILCS 5/16B-2.1
(720 ILCS 5/16B-2.1) (from Ch. 38, par. 16B-2.1)
Sec. 16B-2.1. Criminal mutilation or vandalism of library materials. A person commits criminal mutilation or vandalism of library materials when he knowingly tears, marks on, maliciously renders imperfect or otherwise damages or destroys library materials. (Source: P.A. 87-435.) 720 ILCS 5/16B-3
(720 ILCS 5/16B-3) (from Ch. 38, par. 16B-3)
Sec. 16B-3. Posting of Warning. Each library facility shall post a copy of this Act at a location adjacent to each entrance to the premises of the library facility and at each point in the premises of the library facility at which the borrowing of library materials occurs. (Source: P.A. 82-603.) 720 ILCS 5/16B-4
(720 ILCS 5/16B-4) (from Ch. 38, par. 16B-4)
Sec. 16B-4. Continuation of Prior Law. The provisions of this Article insofar as they are the same or substantially the same as those of Article 16 of this Code shall be construed as a continuation of such Article 16 and not as a new enactment. (Source: P.A. 82-603.) 720 ILCS 5/16B-5
(720 ILCS 5/16B-5) (from Ch. 38, par. 16B-5)
Sec. 16B-5. Sentence. (a) Library theft, as defined in paragraph (d) of Sec. 16B-2, is a petty offense for which the offender may be fined an amount not to exceed $500 and be ordered to reimburse the library for actual replacement costs of the materials not returned.
(b) Library theft, other than as defined in paragraph (d) of Sec. 16B-2, when the aggregate value of the library material which is the subject of such theft does not exceed $300, is a Class A misdemeanor.
(c) Any library theft, when the aggregate value of the library material which is the subject of such theft exceeds $300, is a Class 3 felony. For the purpose of sentencing under subsections (a), (b) and (c), separate transactions totalling more than $300 within a 90 day period shall be presumed to constitute a single offense.
(d) Criminal mutilation or vandalism of library materials, when the aggregate damage or loss of the library materials which are the subject of such mutilation or vandalism does not exceed $300, is a Class A misdemeanor.
(e) Criminal mutilation or vandalism of library materials, when the aggregate damage or loss of the library materials which are the subject of such mutilation or vandalism exceeds $300, is a Class 3 felony. For the purpose of sentencing under subsections (d) and (e), separate acts totalling more than $300 within a 90 day period shall be presumed to constitute a single offense. (Source: P.A. 84-925.)