Shoplifting is when someone intentionally takes merchandise from a store without paying for the items. Shoplifting charges are taken pretty seriously in New Jersey compared to other states. At the same time, minors are treated much differently than adults in the legal world. If your teen has recently gotten caught shoplifting, you may wonder about the possible consequences they could face. Read on or reach out to a Bergen County, New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer to learn more about your legal options.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A MINOR IS CAUGHT SHOPLIFTING?
The answer depends on whether or not the store wants to press charges. In New Jersey, stores are allowed to detain suspected shoplifters for a period of time before law enforcement arrives to take further action. They must have reasonable cause though, meaning the store can usually only detain your teen if an employee or security camera caught them in the act. If the store does decide to press charges against the minor, the legal process will be much different than if the shoplifter was over 18. There are few exceptions that allow the justice system to treat teenagers as adults. In New Jersey, minors as young as 15 can be tried as adults, but this typically only happens in cases of severe crimes or repeat offenders. In most juvenile shoplifting cases, the minor will have to appear in either family court or juvenile court. Thankfully, the juvenile court tends to favor reformation for juvenile offenses rather than punishment.
WHAT ARE SHOPLIFTING PENALTIES FOR TEENS?
In many cases, the judge in family court is much more understanding towards juvenile offenses. Since teenagers’ brains aren’t fully developed, a push toward good behavior is typically more effective than harsh punishment. If this is the minor’s first offense, they’ll likely be able to participate in a diversion program rather than face probation or time in a detention center. A diversion program is like a rehabilitation program that may require teens to take educational courses on shoplifting or participate in community service. This is much more favorable than the other possible penalties which can include driver’s license suspension, an order to pay restitution, or juvenile probation. If the teen is fined or required to pay back the store for the stolen items, then their parents will be held liable for those payments.
If you’re a teen facing shoplifting charges, you’ll probably want an effective criminal defense lawyer on your side to help minimize the consequences you face. Thankfully, the Law Office of E. Gregory Cannarozzi is here to fight for you! Contact us today for quality legal counseling with a highly experienced attorney.