You've received a call you never thought you would—your child has been caught shoplifting. Now, you might feel angry, confused, frustrated and disappointed. It's also normal to worry about the next steps your child might face with the legal system. Let us give you some peace of mind during this trying time.
Juvenile Shoplifting: The First Steps
First, do your best to remain calm. Your child will need your support through the process. Most shoplifting occurs on sheer impulse; the consequences aren't necessarily considered in the moment. Your child may now feel fear and guilt for committing the crime. Try to go in with a level head.
Was It an Accident?
Sometimes, stores will question your child based on what looked like shoplifting but was, in fact, an accident. For example, did an item slide under the shopping cart where it wasn't seen before leaving the store?
When you arrive at the store location, it's important to advocate on your child's behalf. If an accident occurred, your child also must be able to explain it in their own words.
What to Expect When the Legal Process Begins for Juvenile Shoplifters
If you received a call from the shop owner or management of a retail store directly, this is good news. The party may wish to work through the issue with you. Yet, it's up to the store to decide if they wish to press charges. If the store decides to contact the police, the legal process will need to take over.
What Are the Charges for Juvenile Shoplifting?
If your child is under the age of 17, the juvenile justice system will more than likely handle the case. The most common charge for juvenile shoplifting is a Class C misdemeanor, which relates to stolen property under $50 in value. In Texas, Class C misdemeanors result in fines up to $500.
Unfortunately, if your child shoplifts an item of higher value, the consequences increase. For example, stolen property totaling over $2,500 can result in a state felony. Most courts will agree it's important to help juveniles correct their behavior versus requiring jail time. Yet, the consequences truly depend on the factors of each case.
We recommend reaching out to an attorney at this point who can help you navigate your child's case. An attorney will explain your options and what you can do to best support your child.
Don't Let a Mistake Ruin Your Child's Chances—Call Matthew Maddox
One shoplifting mistake doesn't have to keep your child out of college or from getting a job. There are many ways we can fight against the charge. If your juvenile is facing theft charges, we can help. Reach out to Maddox Law by calling 972-546-2496 or send us a message.