Like adults, juveniles can face serious punishment for crimes they commit. In the United States, a person is considered a juvenile if they are under the age of 18. For most crimes committed by minors, there is a separate court system with rules that generally lean towards rehabilitation as opposed to punishment such as jail time. However, even a juvenile can face felony charges after being caught shoplifting.
What Is Retail Theft?
Illinois law contains a specific definition of retail theft, or shoplifting, that is separate from general theft. The crime of retail theft occurs when a person takes merchandise with intent to deprive the merchant of full or partial value. This can mean physically stealing something without paying or using deception to pay a lesser value than what an item is worth. Some examples include altering price tags, hiding merchandise, or using a device that shields products from security measures. The key in these cases is intent, which can be hard to prove.
If a child is caught stealing from a store, the situation can be handled in a variety of ways. Depending on the child’s age and cooperation, they may just get a warning, and the child’s parent or guardian will typically be notified. In many cases, a juvenile will be banned from the store and be put on a watch list. Even if the store does not press charges, they may still call the police, and the juvenile may be taken to the police station, where a more serious warning may be given if it is a first time offense.
A juvenile court may handle the charges differently, but the classifications for retail theft are the same for adults and minors. If the value of goods is under $300, the offender may be charged with a juvenile misdemeanor. If the stolen property was over $300 in value, the juvenile may face a possible felony charge. Regardless of the value of the product, an offense may be charged as a felony if an emergency exit was used during the shoplifting attempt.
For first time shoplifting offenders, a deferred prosecution program is available to prosecutors. Instead of juvenile detention, this option encourages community service and counseling, and the child will need to return to court to prove the services have been completed. Charges will be dropped after completion of the deferred prosecution program.
Contact a Wheaton Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer
A misdemeanor may be expunged from a juvenile’s record, but a felony can follow them into adulthood. To make sure that mistakes made by your child do not ruin their chances at a successful future, contact an experienced DuPage County juvenile crimes attorney. Call our offices at 630-933-8400 to schedule a free consultation.