Juvenile Retail Fraud
Retail fraud, or shoplifting is a criminal offense. When the offender is under the age of seventeen the crime is classified as “Juvenile Retail Fraud.” The unlawful acts include removing merchandise from a store without paying, or switching price tags on items in an effort to lower the cost. When a child gets caught stealing there are legal and possible long term consequences for this behavior. So, hiring an experienced juvenile criminal attorney protects your child’s rights and future.
The defense team at George Law is highly experienced in representing clients for theft related offenses as well as juveniles and minors in court. Our objective is to ensure that a stupid mistake doesn’t ruin the future of someone who hasn’t even reached the age of 18….
Reasons for Stealing
Many times parents are shocked to learn their child has been caught stealing. Perhaps their child has good grades, participates in school activities and has never been in trouble before. Other parents have noticed a change in their child’s behavior. Sadly, some parents have no idea what is happening in their child’s life. Of course, this may not be their fault.
Teenagers are very smart and great at hiding activities from their parents. Basically, each case is different. However, young people may commit retail fraud for a variety of reasons. First of all, peer pressure may play a role. Perhaps, a friend “dared” them to steal an item. Secondly, the young person may just want an item they can’t afford. The third possibility may involve a psychological issue. In that case, therapy may be needed.
Retail Fraud Penalties
Sometimes a store clerk may simply call parents and not involve law enforcement. This rarely happens. Usually, store owners call law enforcement. Now your child is charged with a crime and will need an experienced juvenile attorney. Legal representation is necessary because Juvenile Courts have significant leeway regarding sentencing in retail fraud cases. For example, penalties may range from probation, fines, paying restitution, or juvenile detention. So, your child may receive a warning from a judge or land in jail. The penalty for juvenile shoplifting or retail fraud depends on various factors:
- The cost of the stolen item
- The age of the defendant
- The defendant’s previous criminal record
An attorney will explain possible penalties facing your child based on the above factors. Also, these charges may remain on your child’s record and affect future employment and college acceptance. Consequently, seek legal representation for your child immediately.
It’s important to point out Michigan’s “Parental Responsibility Laws.” Sometimes, parents are held financially responsible for restitution payments and court costs. For example, if a thirteen year old steals an item and destroys it, the parents may have to pay the store back. Also, if the court decides the youngster needs counseling, parents must pay for the minor’s treatment. So, legal advice remains important for the entire family in retail fraud cases.
Preteens and teenagers under the age of seventeen have numerous rights in Juvenile Court. The first is the right to due process. Similar to any court case, your child
- Is presumed innocent
- May call witnesses
- Does not have to plead guilty
- May have a lawyer
- The lawyer may cross examine witnesses
Future Ramifications of Shoplifting or Retail Fraud Charge
Future employers may see a juvenile criminal record or learn that there is a “sealed” record. Knowing a future employee committed a crime in the past may hurt employment opportunities. Also, college admissions counselors may discover this information. In fact, a question about one’s criminal history may appear on various future applications. An attorney can answer questions regarding these vital matters. As a result, the importance of a solid, juvenile justice attorney remains critical for your child’s future.
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