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 the consequence depends on a few different factors, including a child or young adult’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 to several years in prison. If you or someone you love is caught shoplifting in Michigan or falsely accused, you will want to get the best legal representation available.
How serious is it if a child or young adult is caught shoplifting in Michigan?
As a parent, you may feel disappointed or angry with your child after learning they’ve been caught shoplifting in Michigan. There might be legal ramifications if the business chose to involve the police. In Michigan, young adults and minors commit retail fraud or “shoplifting” for various 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 in state district or circuit courts. 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 best positioned to get a favorable outcome.
Could my child be detained if they are caught shoplifting in Michigan?
If your teenager has no prior record, it is unlikely that the judge will sentence your child to jail, but it does happen. You should not take retail fraud charges lightly because the collateral consequences, such as difficulty with future employment and loss of civil rights, are severe. 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 later and that they should contact the court, usually within 10 or 14 days. If the defendant has any prior contact 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. However, most people are unaware that a juvenile criminal record remains a 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 chance of getting a personal bond, even if their client is caught shoplifting in Michigan. A personal bond does not require paying money to the court.
What are my child’s rights in court if they are caught shoplifting?
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, they waive all those rights. Waiving your rights and hoping for the court’s mercy 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it normal for kids to shoplift?
It is normal for young kids to experiment with shoplifting; however, it is easy for a few shoplifting experiences to spiral out of control. It is helpful if children learn early that it is necessary to respect the property of others. Teenagers and young adults who shoplift are asking for trouble.
What to do if a child is caught stealing?
If a child is caught stealing, it is best to be proactive by hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away. A savvy attorney can negotiate to avert charges if charges are not yet filed. If shoplifting charges have already been filed in court, the goal will be to get the case dismissed or get a plea under advisement to prevent the child or young adult from getting a Michigan criminal record.
What happens to kids who shoplift?
If a kid is caught shoplifting in Michigan, the store will generally contact the local police to report the crime. The police will respond to the store and issue the child a ticket. If the kid is under 18, the police or loss prevention officers will likely contact a parent. The officers will issue a ticket with instructions to contact the court. Some officers will arrest a suspected shoplifter, and in those cases, they will have to appear before a judge for arraignment and request a bond.
What do you do if you catch your teenager shoplifting?
If you catch your teenager in the act of shoplifting, stop them and put the item back on the shelf or original location as quickly as possible.
What happens if I get caught shoplifting?
If you’ve been ticketed or arrested for shoplifting, hire a qualified, respected shoplifting defense lawyer immediately. Some people fail to recognize the severity of a shoplifting case before it is too late. Remember, shoplifting is a crime of dishonesty, goes on your criminal record, results in a publicly discoverable criminal conviction, and subjects the offender to jail and probation.
Do shoplifters get caught?
Yes and no. Many shoplifters get away with their offense one or more times; however, most kids and adults who shoplift eventually get caught. Modern surveillance systems are so advanced that many offenders are identified and prosecuted days or weeks after leaving the location.
Do you get a criminal record for shoplifting?
Yes, if you are caught shoplifting in Michigan, a conviction is a reportable criminal conviction and appears on a public criminal record. A skilled defense lawyer can likely negotiate a resolution to keep your criminal record clean.
How likely are you to get away with shoplifting?
Modern security technology is prevalent, and it is becoming easier to identify shoplifters and prove their guilt. If you are struggling with a shoplifting addiction, you are encouraged to get help. One helpful resource is Cleptomaniacs And Shoplifters Anonymous (CASA).
Is retail fraud a felony in Michigan?
Retail fraud, a.k.a. shoplifting, is a felony if (1) the value of the merchandise is greater than $1,000.00 or (2) valued between $200.00 and $1,000.00 and the offender has a prior retail fraud conviction.
What is retail fraud in Michigan?
Retail fraud is the same as shoplifting but includes concealing merchandise, price switching, and moving items offered for sale with the intent to steal.
How long does retail fraud stay on your record in Michigan?
Retail fraud stays on your criminal record forever unless your lawyer negotiates for a plea under advisement or a delayed sentence. Retail fraud can be removed if you are eligible and granted an expungement or Motion to Set Aside Conviction.
How long after shoplifting can you be charged in Michigan?
The statute of limitations for shoplifting is six (6) years.
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 your next steps. Strong, aggressive legal representation is essential 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 an 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. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.