Last Updated on November 27, 2021 by Mikebush The Rich Lazy Asshole
As a teenager, you would feel free from any legislation. However, what happens if you get caught stealing under 18? Stealing is a punishable offense but will the law let you go scot-free?
Stealing is a punishable offense, and as someone under 18, you can be detained for it. Typically, if the store or someone you steal from concludes that you are stealing from them, they can either call your parents, let you go with a warning, or call the police.
They can charge you for stealing or attempting to steal from them. Your case may also be transferred to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention for behavior correction.
Stealing can include all forms of cons such as stealing a wristwatch or shoplifting, etc.
What Happens if You Get Caught Stealing Under 18?
Generally, the police or your parents are called when you steal and get caught. However, it can depend on the person you offend, what you steal, how you steal, and your criminal record.
Meanwhile, the Juvenile Court can penalize you for stealing. You can be charged for pickpocketing, shoplifting, beating Walmart security, doing Amazon refund tricks, cheating self checkout at stores, etc.
Suppose you shoplift for the first time you may be allowed to go with a warning. The crime can also be in the records against you which can hinder your future opportunities unless you expunge it.
If you get caught stealing under 18 and you already have a criminal record, the penalty will be severer. As an under 18, you may face consequences including restitution, confinement, probation, counseling, diversion, and more depending on the value of what you steal.
If you are going to steal, you do not want to get caught. Let’s say you want to shoplift. It might not occur to you that shoplifting is a big deal. Well, depending on the value of the item stolen, one can land in jail.
What to Do with a Teenager that Steals?
When a teenager steals and gets caught, the store, person, or merchant can sue for damages. They can even sue the parents for minor damages. This could range between $50 and $500 or more depending on the value of the item.
A teenager can also be sued as a minor for the value of the item stolen if it is no longer marketable or in good condition.
Also, a teenager or a minor can be detained for a reasonable time for the investigation of the stolen item. The cause of the teenager stealing can be discovered during the interrogation.
If a teenager steals, gets detained but refuses to provide the stolen item, a reasonable and limited search can be conducted. The owner of the item can search the teenager’s shopping bag, handbag, etc. However, state laws may not allow the searching of the clothing of the teenager.
You can also apply decent and reasonable force on a teenager to keep them from escaping or to prevent the stolen item from being carted away.
What Are Your Rights as a Teenager Caught Stealing?
When you get caught stealing as a teenager, the business or person may not let you go without informing the police. It is advisable not to resist being detained to prevent further charges against you.
Besides, you may not be able to overpower the person and others can join in to pin you down. You could get seriously injured.
However, if the store or person you stole from is using excessive force against you while you are not resisting, there is the legal privilege to defend yourself. You must also be reasonable in your resistance for chances against the accuser.
Should Allow Yourself to be Detained and Searched?
If you refuse the store or person from searching you but they have no probable cause for searching you, you can sue them later for infringing your privacy rights. You can sue for unlawful detention or false imprisonment.
However, if the store or person has probable cause for searching you, allow them to search you and your possessions. You do not want them to search your clothing, it may be outside the scope of the permitted search in your state.
You can gently protest the search of your clothing while you do not object to it so that you can sue them later. This is if you have not stolen.
However, if you stole any item, allow yourself to be searched. When the stolen item is found, the person or store may simply send you away with a stern warning. If you refuse a search while you possess the stolen item, they have a strong case against you in the court.
What Can a Lawyer Do?
You can have a lawyer speak for you. If you are guilty of the theft but refused to be searched, an experienced lawyer will explain that your refusal was normal. They can describe it as a typical human reaction when their personal privacy is invaded.
If the item you stole is not found, and there are no witnesses testifying that you stole something, the person or store will stop detaining you. This is because there is no cause for prosecution.
For instance, if you attempted to shoplift at a store, and the item is still in the store, leave the premises without it. When the store finds the item, they can no longer claim against you for stealing.
Can a Minor Get in Trouble for Stealing?
A minor can get into trouble for stealing. Normally, if you steal as a person under 18, you will not be penalized with the criminal justice system but through the juvenile justice system.
However, if you shoplift at a store, the consequence for adults can be the case for juveniles. There will be a difference in how a juvenile court handles a shoplifting charge.
As mentioned earlier, when you are caught stealing, you could be detained and searched by the owner of the item. In some cases, you will receive civil demand letters asking you to pay for damages caused for stealing the item.
Do not pay the fine, contact your attorney. The civil demand letter could be doctored. Some will threaten criminal prosecution or jail time to get you to pay out of fear.
If the letters are sent to you illegally, you may be able to take legal action against the firm sending them to you.
If you pay the civil demand fine, you are pleading guilty to stealing, and the person or store can use it against you. Ensure to seek an experienced attorney’s advice. If you already paid the civil demand fine, your attorney could still get you to fight the shoplifting charge successfully.
What Happens to Teenager Who is a First Time Offender?
The consequences can be serious if you have been arrested by the police. Nonetheless, you can seek legal advice to successfully fight legal actions against you such as jail time or service programs.
As a first-time offender under 18, juvenile penalties are designed to correct instead of punish you. In some cases, the court can release you to your parent or guardian but you will be sternly warned against future convictions.
Also, the court can order restitution. This means that you have to work to pay off the value of the stolen item. If you have no job, you may be ordered to find one and pay off the debt.
You could also be put on probation such as obeying orders, staying in school, and lots more. You could also have to report to your probation officer throughout the period, typically 6 months depending on your state.
You could also be counseled as a juvenile offender through services run by the state. Some courts can require the parent or guardian to be part of the family counseling.
Does shoplifting Go on Your Record if You Are a Minor?
Shoplifting always goes on people’s criminal records even if they were not convicted. As a minor, however, it will not stay permanently in your record.
If you have not gone out as a teenager to steal yet, do not at all. Give up on the plans to protect your social records.
Shoplifting will appear in your records and if it does not go away, you will have to expunge it legally. Nevertheless, if you are a fierce teenager, you can fight a shoplifting charge even if you are guilty of the crime.