Can you tell me exactly or something close to what will happen to my 14 year old daughter if she caught in the act of stealing from a store? 9 Answers as of April 30, 2013

My 14 year old daughter stole from a store. It came out to $34 of merchandise. They (store employee) took some information and gave me a piece of paper stating we would have to pay the cost of the merchandise attempted to be stolen, the attorney provided, and the security guard. He (store employee filling out the paperwork) said he has nothing to do with the case when or attempted chance of stealing over $20 worth of purchase, after $20 it is sent to court. If she is 14 years old, no police were involved then why does it need to be sent to court? I offered to pay the $34 up front, but the man said no.

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Michael Breczinski
Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
This is a civil statute that allows the store to collect damages for shoplifting, even if the police are not called. You will have to pay the asked for amount.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 4/30/2013
The Rogers Law Firm
The Rogers Law Firm | Andrea Storey Rogers
The store is allowed to sue for damages but only up to $250, and only if they sue you in court and successfully win a judgment. This is called a civil demand. Most attorneys (including me) advise people to refuse to pay the civil demand. You don't owe the store anything unless the store files a civil lawsuit in court, has your daughter served with the lawsuit, and goes to court and wins a judgment against her. I know of no stores that actually sue shoplifters because the cost of hiring an attorney and suing someone in court is a lot more than the amount that was stolen. This is just a "shake-down" by the store. Whether you pay the civil demand or not has no effect whatsoever on the criminal case against your daughter. If the police were called and she was issued a citation and she actually has a court date, then you need to hire an attorney to represent her. If this is her first offense, then an attorney can probably get the charge reduced to something like "Littering" and your daughter won't have to appear in court. Of course, this all depends on her criminal history and which court this is being prosecuted in.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 4/29/2013
Timothy J. Thill P.C.
Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
It sounds like a hard-nosed store policy to me. However, the matter should be handled as a juvenile matter, which will have no effect on her once she reaches the age of majority. She will probably be placed on a period of some form of probation, and if she stays out of trouble, it should have no adverse effect on her. Of course, if she screws up again, or while on probation, she may be sent to a youth correctional facility.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 4/28/2013
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
People don't understand how serious shop lifting is. Many people write me telling me "the stuff I stole was ONLY...." The cost is really irrelevant. Shop lift is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of 1 year in jail and a $1,000.00 fine. If convicted, at her age, if the judge ordered jail time, it would be in juvenile detention center. For a first offense, judges rarely order jail time, but suspend the sentence for up to 2 years on condition that your daughter do certain things... most important, not violate the law. I would strongly advise you to hire an attorney because the simple fact that she has a conviction on her record could be a problem for her, especially when she goes to get a job or apply to colleges. She would have to disclose the conviction. The store is absolutely right. Once the prosecutor takes the case (criminal case) only the prosecutor can decide not to press forward with the charge. The store owner is but a victim/witness to the crime of theft. Separately from the criminal action, the store owner could seek civil restitution for up to twice the value of the property stolen.. This is the case, even if the property is recovered and the person never gets away with it. My advice, hire an attorney.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 4/28/2013
Lawrence Lewis
Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
It needs to be sent to court, because she is a thief, and shoplifting is a problem. You will get court notice from the court.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 4/26/2013
    Mace J. Yampolsky, LTD
    Mace J. Yampolsky, LTD | Mace Yampolsky
    Most likely she will need to do some community service maybe attend a class and send an apology letter. If it is handled right, it should get dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 4/26/2013
    Barton Barton & Plotkin
    Barton Barton & Plotkin | Maurice Ross
    There is no way to know what will happen. Every store is different. Your daughter is a juvenile so if charges are pressed it will be handled in juvenile court. She would be charged with petty theft and could face a fine, probation and community service. Often the store will not press charges. The store has no authority to impose fines or charges on you. When you get a letter from the store demanding payment you probably can safely ignore it. Since a criminal record is a bad thing, you should retain legal counsel to defend the 14 year old
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 4/26/2013
    William L. Welch, III Attorney | William L. Welch, III
    If the juvenile court finds that your daughter was involved in an offense, then it may commit her to the department of juvenile services until she is 18. That commitment might be extended until age 21. However, if she has previously had a criminal case adjudicated in court, or if the prosecution persuades the juvenile court to waive its jurisdiction to the criminal court, then regular criminal penalties would apply. In Maryland the maximum penalty for theft depends on the value of what is taken. Ultimately, sentencing depends on whether you're found guilty, your record, how serious these are in the court's eyes, mitigation, and allocution. An attorney can assist you with evaluating the prosecution's case, any defenses that you might have, and any plea offer that might be made, so that you can decide whether to plea bargain or go to trial. If you were to be found guilty, then an attorney can assist you with presenting mitigation, allocution, and a recommendation for a more lenient sentence. and a recommendation for a more lenient sentence. You and your daughter should consider seeking a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Beware that online posts are not confidential. If somehow the prosecution were to find your post, then it might be used in evidence against you.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 4/26/2013
    Conway Law Pllc.
    Conway Law Pllc. | B. L. Conway
    Depending on her record, she may be able to avoid a conviction. You better get her a great lawyer
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 4/26/2013
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