College Students and Shoplifting

Students Charged with Retail Theft

Chicago has numerous colleges throughout the city. Because of the numerous college campuses in the city, Chicago is flooded with students from across the world here studying to receive a world-class education. One of the most common criminal charges that college age students approach me with is retail theft. Chicago criminal courts see thousands of these cases a year, ranging from misdemeanor thefts of $1 to felony theft charges in the millions of dollars. College students, being so young and often first time offenders, have much to lose by being charged with either misdemeanor or felony retail theft. With thousands of dollars being spent on education, a possible criminal record would be devastating to a student with his or her entire professional career ahead of them. That is why having effective and experienced legal representation is so important. The Law Office of Purav Bhatt has defended thousands of college students across Illinois. We have been successful in getting retail theft cases dismissed and have ensured that numerous other would be able to graduate college without a criminal record.

Retail Theft Under 720 ILCS 5/16-25

Retail theft and shoplifting are synonymous in Illinois law. To be found guilty of retail theft, the state’s attorney must establish that merchandise was taken away, or concealed with the intent to deprive the merchant of the value of the items. Changing price tags or switching labels to pay a reduced amount is also considered theft in Illinois.

In Illinois, retail theft can range from ordinance violations in local towns to felony offenses that can lead to prison sentences and criminal convictions. A criminal conviction cannot be removed from your criminal record and should be avoided at all costs. Proper legal representation can guide you through the legal maze and put you in the position to resolve your case in the most positive way.

Penalties Assessed by the Store

Illinois law allows the merchant to sue the defendant for between $100 to $1000. Oftentimes, retailers will hire collection law firms to send out collection letters. This is a civil matter and unrelated to your criminal case. Payment of this civil judgment will not result in the dismissal of your criminal charges.


As a result of the serious nature of the possible penalties for theft of misdemeanor and felony convictions, it is important that you have an experienced theft lawyer on your side to guide and counsel you through your criminal case. Theft attorney Purav Bhatt has handled thousands of theft related crimes in Chicago and Illinois. Call for a contact us at 773-791-9682 or contact us here for a contact us.