Juvenile Theft Charges: What to Expect
“Kids will be kids” is an expression that most parents use when their children do something reprehensible, and while this phrase may apply when a teen is caught toilet papering a friend’s yard, or when a young child pockets a pack of gum, it is not so appropriate in other instances. One such instance in which “kids will be kids” is far from appropriate is when a minor teenager commits retail fraud.
“Retail fraud” is just Michigan’s term for shoplifting, or retail theft. Though most juvenile shoplifting charges result in nothing more than slaps on the wrist and orders to repay the shop owners for the items stolen, in extreme cases, they can result in criminal charges. Depending on the age of your adolescent, this can mean very serious consequences, including jail time and a life-long criminal record.
Consequences for Juvenile Offenders
Juvenile court judges are more focused on rehabilitation than they are on punishment, which is why, if your child is arrested for retail fraud, the best case would be for him or her to be tried in juvenile court. Juvenile offenders have all the same rights as adult offenders, but they are typically at the mercy of the judge rather than a jury. When determining a rehabilitation approach for your youngster, the judge will likely consider how your child is doing in the community and at home. The better your child is doing at school, and the more he or she is involved in extracurricular activities, the less likely he or she is to be detained. However, if the judge feels as if your teen’s home circumstances contributed to his or her delinquency, he or she may order a juvenile detention sentence.
Consequences for Persons 17 Years or Older
If your child is 17 years or older and is caught shoplifting, he or she will be treated as an adult. This means that if your child is found guilty, he or she will be subject to the same punishments as an adult. If convicted of a local misdemeanor, the punishment would be a 93-day maximum jail sentence; if convicted of a state misdemeanor, the maximum jail sentence increases to a year; and if convicted of a state felony, your child may be subject to a maximum jail sentence of five years. When determining which sentence is most appropriate, the state will consider the value of goods stolen, the perceived intent of your child’s actions, and your child’s prior record.
Hire a Grand Rapids Theft Attorney to Help Fight Criminal Charges
Criminal charges can have a negative impact on your juvenile’s life. In addition to possible jail time, criminal charges can result in college acceptance revocation, missed job opportunities, and more. If your teen was arrested for and charged with retail fraud, reach out to an experienced Grand Rapids retail fraud lawyer.
At Van Den Heuvel Law Office, our lawyers will fight on your child’s behalf to keep a criminal charge off of his or her records. Do not let a juvenile mistake impact the rest of your teen’s life. Call our office today to schedule your initial case review.