When you think about shoplifting you probably envision a teenager stealing a CD or a child taking a candy bar. The truth is that across the nation, stores lose anywhere from $2,000-$3,000 per month to shoplifters. You might be surprised to learn that taking advantage of that five-finger discount can land your teen in hot water.
Shoplifting is also known as retail theft in Iowa. Being convicted of retail theft can lead to difficulties in the future when applying for a job, seeking college admission and obtaining certain licenses. For immigrants, a conviction could be grounds for deportation.
What happens when your child is charged with shoplifting?
Unless your child is a repeat offender they will probably be charged and processed through the juvenile court system. Shoplifting any item worth $500 or less is considered petty theft. Unlike in the criminal court system, judges in the juvenile courts have more flexibility when it comes to sentencing your child. Here are some of the possible outcomes:
- The juvenile may be released to his parents if this is their first offense. The judge will give them a strong lecture and inform them of the harsher penalties they’ll face if they are caught shoplifting again.
- The judge may order the juvenile to pay restitution to the shop from which they stole.
- The juvenile might be put on probation for up to six months. This means that they will have a curfew or they may only be allowed out to attend school. They’ll have to check in with their probation officer at the appointed times.
- Counseling may be mandated by the judge.
If your child is charged with shoplifting it is possible that you might be able to have the court records sealed. That way, their record won’t be held against them as they move forward in life. Do not try to handle this situation on your own. Seek assistance to help your child navigate the juvenile court system.