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What if your teen is arrested for shoplifting?

Your daughter was at the mall with her friends. The plan was for you to catch up with her at 5:00 p.m. and take her to dinner. At 3:30 p.m., your phone rings. When you answer, a security officer from the mall tells you that your daughter has been detained for shoplifting. Shoplifting has become an unofficial right of passage in the last few decades, but it is still considered a crime. Depending on whether or not this is your child’s first offense, she could be in hot water.

What to do if your child is detained

The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) reports that teens aged 13-17 tend to steal either due to peer pressure or impulse. As parents, it’s important to approach this with a level head, especially if this was your child’s first offense. Before you arrive to meet your child, decide on the consequences. When you see your child, keep a level head, even if you are extremely angry. Your child is probably terrified and will need your support.

Will my child be arrested?

These are the steps that are normally followed for shoplifters who have been caught:

  • First-time offenders will most likely be released to their parents. However, the shop owner may choose to press charges. In the courtroom, most first-time offenders are given a stern lecture and warning by the judge.
  • Your child may be ordered to pay restitution to the shop owner for the amount of stolen goods.
  • Your child may be put on probation if the theft was costly or if they are a repeat offender.

If the charges are serious and your child is facing jail time, or if she has been wrongly accused, contact an experienced legal advisor to assist you in fighting the charges.

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