Shoplifting Charges Against a Minor or Young Adult
Shoplifting is quite common among teenagers acting out of peer pressure or stress. The consequences of shoplifting are no joke.
Penalty for Shoplifting and Retail Fraud
The severity of consequence depends on a few different factors, including your child’s age, history, and the value of the merchandise. Overzealous loss prevention officers falsely accuse minors and young adults of shoplifting frequently. The penalties for shoplifting can range from 93 days in jail up to several years in prison.
How serious is a shoplifting case involving a minor or young adult?
As a parent, you may feel disappointed or angry with your child after learning he or she has been shoplifting. There may be legal ramifications as well if the business chose to involve the police. In Michigan, young adults and minors commit retail fraud or “shoplifting” for a variety of reasons. Children under 17 are considered juvenile offenders and find themselves in juvenile court. Young adults, who are 17 and older, are tried as adults. For this reason alone, it makes sense to hire an experienced attorney who has positive relationships with the judges and prosecutors, and is respected for providing zealous, effective representation. A respected and successful attorney is in the best position to get a favorable outcome.
Could my child be detained?
If your teenager has no prior record, it is unlikely that the judge will sentence your child to jail, but it does happen and these charges should not be taken lightly. A brief detention at a police station or local lockup is common; however, a police officer can issue an Appearance Ticket. An Appearance Ticket advises a defendant that charges will be filed at a later time and that he or she should contact the court, usually within 10 or 14 days. If the defendant has any prior contacts with the law, a judge may decide to set a bond requiring a cash deposit with the court clerk or jail. In juvenile cases, the emphasis is on rehabilitation, and sentences tend to be less punitive. Most people are not aware, however, that a juvenile criminal record remains public record and can be discovered by potential employers or colleges. If the judge sets a bond, money may have to be deposited with the jail to secure your child’s release from custody or you might have to hire a bonds person. A successful criminal defense lawyer gives an accused the best possible chance of getting a personal bond. A personal bond does not require that any money exchanged with the court.
What are my child’s rights in court?
Your child has several rights, including the right to due process. The right to due process means the right to be treated fairly. Unfortunately, many prosecutors and judges have minimal regard for a person’s due process rights, and it takes a strong lawyer to make sure someone receives fair treatment. Also, every defendant in a criminal or juvenile delinquency case has a right to be presumed innocent, a right to be tried by a judge or jury, a right to be represented by a lawyer at trial, a right to call witnesses to testify and cross-examine the prosecutor’s witnesses. If your child enters a guilty plea, he or she waives all of those rights. Waiving your rights and hoping for the mercy of the court with a bargain lawyer or a court-appointed attorney who will not take the time to fight for your child is a recipe for disaster. Don’t trust your child’s fate to the lowest bidder.
Should my child take a plea or go to trial?
We do not recommend making this decision without experienced legal representation from one of Michigan’s top law firms. LEWIS & DICKSTEIN P.L.L.C. has helped thousands of individuals facing retail fraud charges in Michigan and can provide wise insight into what your next steps should be. Strong, aggressive legal representation is especially important in the case of retail fraud involving a minor because of what is at stake for that teenager or young adult. Even if your child does not want to have a trial, a good trial lawyer will know how to turn a strong defense into even stronger negotiating power.
What about a situation where the evidence is overwhelming, and there is no doubt about the defendant’s guilt. At LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., we have an unparalleled track record of achieving resolutions that do not appear on a person’s public record, even when there is unequivocal evidence of guilt. A conviction will negatively impact every aspect of their future, and we do not recommend leaving it to chance.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation, or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.