My Child was Caught Shoplifting. Now What?
Parents who believe they have raised smart and honest children never forget the late-night call notifying them that their child was caught shoplifting. At first, most parents believe there’s been a mistake, but soon enough, the reality of their child’s wrongdoing sinks in, and a storm of mixed emotions starts to brew.
As a parent, it can be scary and confusing to come to terms with your child’s actions, and you may not know what to do to resolve the matter. You likely have dozens of questions you can’t begin to know the answers to without professional guidance. Will I need to pay for the merchandise? Will my kid get jail time? How will this affect my child’s future? Will I, as the parent, face any legal penalties?
It’s a fact that most shoplifters are past their teen years; however, most admit to getting started in their teens. Your child may have been influenced by classmates or placed under pressure by friends who shoplift. There could be a dozen reasons your child succumbed to stealing, and it may even be possible that they got the wrong kid. At The Umansky Law Firm, we want to help you take all the measures you can to protect yourself and your child’s future. That begins by investigating all the facts of your child’s case as early as possible.
What are my child’s rights while being detained?
If your child is detained, it’s best for them to follow all the officers’ orders or those of the store manager. Any sign of rebellion could be interpreted as resistance, which could land them an additional criminal charge.
If your child is detained with a backpack, purse, or another belonging, LP will probably want to search the item to recover lost merchandise. They might also ask to search inside your child’s clothes. Should your child consent to these searches?
Your child may refuse a search of his or her clothing because clothing is not within the scope allowed for a search. On the other hand, they might want to allow a search of his or her possessions. It depends on whether the merchant has probable cause to conduct a search. If there is no probable cause, allowing a search could void your child’s right to sue the merchant later for violating their privacy rights.
Can the business sue me if my child stole from them?
Yes. The merchant has the right to sue the parents of minors for losses and legal fees. The merchant can also sue the minor for the retail value of the merchandise if it’s no longer in a saleable condition.
After your child was caught, you might receive demand letters from the business claiming that you owe them money. The demand letter is usually a threat that they will sue you if you don’t pay them. However, paying the money they ask for won’t guarantee they won’t sue you. Often, the threat is empty since it will cost them more to go to court than to accept the loss of the merchandise. So, it’s best to avoid meeting the merchant’s demands until you meet with an attorney.
Will I need to pay for the merchandise if my child shoplifted?
After you get that call that your child is in custody for shoplifting, you should meet with the business owner to offer to pay for the merchandise. You might be able to work out an agreement with their Loss Prevention department to avoid your teen gaining a criminal record.
Some parents also encourage their teens to read a letter of apology to the store owner or manager. This is generally an effective method of teaching your child the gravity of their actions. If the court becomes involved, they may look more favorably upon your child’s case if they see that they took measures to make amends.
How can I help my child avoid future arrests?
As a parent, you have a responsibility to your child to help them navigate this difficult time. Being there for your child, even if you don’t want to be supportive, is crucial to helping them change their ways. In many cases, the child’s first run-in with law enforcement is the only lesson they’ll need to avoid a life of crime.
If your child is under 18 and faces his or her first criminal charge, you will need to accompany them to court. Know that a conviction for shoplifting can follow them around for years, even if your child’s case goes through the juvenile justice system. It’s imperative to work with an experienced juvenile defense lawyer to do everything possible to avoid a conviction. Your lawyer should have extensive experience working with minors and a history of attaining successful results for clients with similar legal issues.
Speaking to Your Child About Shoplifting
When teens shoplift, it may be a sign of a larger problem. You’re probably livid now, but after you cool off, talk seriously with your child. Make sure they understand that they’ve lost your trust, and ways they can work to regain that trust. You could also consider giving them more chores around the house so they can earn their own spending money. Speak clearly about the laws in the state so they can understand the gravity of their offense. If the store pressed charges against your child, prepare them for dealing with the justice system. Part of this involves making sure your child is comfortable speaking openly about their actions with your attorney.
Getting a lawyer involved is critical to mitigating the consequences your child could face upon a conviction. A lawyer can advocate for diversion programs, probation, reduced charges, and other forms of restitution that can help your child avoid incarceration. In Orlando, there are programs available for juvenile offenders to pay their debt to society while avoiding a criminal conviction. Talk to your criminal lawyer about all the options that may be available to your child.
As you and your child navigate this obstacle course together, your child should know that they can count on you to guide them through difficult situations. Encourage your child to participate in extracurricular activities at school or volunteer at a non-profit. Keeping your child busy, and introducing positive influences can help them stay away from crime.
Trust Our Orlando Juvenile Defense Lawyers to Help Your Child
The Umansky Law Firm is a top-rated criminal defense firm in Orlando that serves people throughout Central Florida who face criminal charges. Run by a devoted husband and wife team with kids of their own, we know how to work with minors and their parents, and how to devise creative solutions to their legal issues. Our team of lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience providing criminal defense. With board-certified lawyers on staff, you can count on us to protect your child’s future.
Call our office or complete our online form to discuss your child’s retail theft charge today for free. We are available 24/7 to answer your questions.