It’s every parent’s nightmare: your teenager is arrested for shoplifting. You’re concerned about the consequences and wondering what you should do next.
Knowing Pennsylvania’s laws regarding retail theft and the juvenile court system is crucial.
The retail value determines the level of crime
Based on the value of the stolen goods and if there are previous offenses, your teenager can be looking at the following charges:
- First offense and value of item(s) is less than $150: summary offense
- Second offense and item is less than $150 or first offense with a value greater than $150: misdemeanor
- More than three offenses or value of more than $1000 or theft of a firearm or vehicle: felony
Typically, Pennsylvania courts will not sentence a juvenile the same as an adult. The primary objective of the state’s court system is rehabilitation. Upon conviction, the judge won’t pronounce them guilty, instead using the term “adjudicated delinquent”. And if they are convicted of shoplifting, there will still be penalties and community service, and they will likely need to pay court fines and make restitution. The juvenile justice system will look to address the underlying issues that caused the criminal behavior instead of harsh punishment for a mistake.
However, there is a risk that it could permanently damage their reputation and hinder their future educational, housing and job opportunities due to lingering background checks.
That’s why it is vital to get advice as soon as possible. You will need someone well-versed in understanding how the juvenile justice system works. There are several possible defenses to shoplifting charges, depending on the circumstances. In some cases, it may be possible to have the shoplifting charges against your teenager dismissed or reduced through a plea agreement.