What to Do If Your Teen is Caught Shoplifting
Most parents are shocked when their child is caught for shoplifting. After all, these offenders are often good kids from good families that maintain above-average grades. One bad judgment call can result in an offense that is subject to both civil and criminal penalties. If prosecuted, the stigma can follow these young offenders longer than imaginable.
People tend to think of shoplifting as taking an item without paying for it. The offense, however, can take many forms. Aside from concealing or taking possession of merchandise, a shoplifting charge can be brought for altering or switching price tags, transferring unpaid goods from one container to another, or anything else wrongfully causing the amount paid to be less than the merchant’s stated price.
In the state of Georgia, offenders that are 17 years of age or older are prosecuted as adults. The child or teen is charged with a misdemeanor if the total retail value of the items adds up to $500 or less, which can lead to a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail and a $1000 fine. The charge becomes a felony if the retail value of the items exceeds $500, potentially leading to between 1 and 10 years incarceration in addition to any applicable fines.
If your child has been accused of theft, the first thing you should do is speak to a qualified criminal defense attorney. They will be able to advise you of what steps need to be taken and what to expect throughout the process.
Theft is something that retailers take very seriously, having cost them over $112 billion worldwide last year alone. There is a perception that stealing from larger companies creates less harm, but they are more likely than smaller retailers to have zero-tolerance polices. After the store notifies authorities, the arriving officer has the discretion to either issue a citation or arrest the suspect.
Unless handled properly, the arrest and conviction will remain on your teen’s permanent record for life. Even with Juvenile offenders, there are steps needed to seal the record.
The most important step a parent can take to keep their teen’s future safe is to call a qualified criminal offense attorney.
At Andersen, Tate & Carr, our attorneys are dedicated to reaching the best possible outcome for our clients. Our criminal defense attorneys, Patrick McDonough and Trinity Hundredmark, have combined experience of more than 30 years representing clients facing criminal charges in Georgia. For more information, or to request a case evaluation, contact our law office at 1-770-822-0900.