Berman & Asbel, LLP

What to Do if Your Teenager Faces Shoplifting Charges

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, teenagers make up approximately 25 percent of shoplifters in the U.S. There is no "average" description of a teenage shoplifter. Sometimes good students, pressured by their peers on a dare or to test limits, are arrested for shoplifting.

What should you do?

  1. Talk About What Happened

Ask your child to tell you the truth. Be calm, firm and non-physical. Make it clear that theft in any circumstance is unacceptable. Do not create labels like a"bad person" or a "thief."

  1. Take the Retail Theft Seriously

Shoplifting is a serious crime.. A juvenile facing minor retail theft (accused of stealing less than $150) may end up with a fine and community service, if this is a first offense. However, if that same juvenile faces a second charge it will be a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a criminal charge and can lead to:

  • A criminal record
  • A larger fine
  • Time in jail
  • Future difficulty getting a job, loan or applying to college

The potential consequences increase as the value of the merchandise stolen increases. Often, given the right circumstances, a lawyer can negotiate for reduced charges and/or diversion programs that will shield teenagers from the harshest penalties.

  1. Be Active During the Juvenile Justice Process

Your involvement is crucial to helping your teenager work through this problem. You may be asked to take part in various aspects of the case such as: questioning and the hearing. . Consider taking notes during the process. Keep in mind, however, that your child's correspondence with the attorney is confidential, even from you.

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