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New Jersey Criminal Lawyer: Teen Shoplifting Penalties Get Tougher as Crimes Increase

All parents know the importance of talking to their tweens and teens about drugs, alcohol, and sex, but few ever think to bring up the topic of shoplifting until it is too late.  According to a recent article in Family Circle Magazine, 61% of retailers surveyed report an increase in amateur theft.  The same article reported that two out of every three youths surveyed admit that they had shoplifted.

As teen unemployment rises, free time increases, and that is when most kids get into trouble.  Not only is stealing wrong, shoplifting now carries stiffer penalties than ever before, including prosecution that is no longer expunged when the child turns 18 years of age.  The crimes committed by teens now follow individuals throughout their life, showing up on background checks and information highways.  This creates a serious risk on a person’s ability to secure employment, acceptance into college, and scholarship opportunities.

Trying to understand why kids steal is like trying to understand why their attitudes suddenly change when they reach the age of twelve.  Anyone who has parented a child into adulthood knows that the preteen and teenage years are some of the most challenging.

Children start to gain independence at the same time that the consequences for their actions increase.  In fact, most shoplifting crimes that are committed by this age group are not premeditated.  The crime is most often an impulse decision, sometimes fueled by peer pressure, and most often done to impress or fit in with others in their age group.  Rarely does a teenager shoplift out of necessity.

If your child has been caught shoplifting, you will be contacted by the store’s security personnel and will be expected to come to the store to pick up your child.  In the recent past, most stores would wait approximately 90 minutes for parents to come to the store before calling police.  As tolerance for these crimes lowers, most retailers are now calling the authorities within an hour.  If the store decides not to turn the matter over to the local police, the parents will most likely be charged a fee for the material taken and an additional security processing fee.  The child’s name and sometimes even their picture will be entered into a database and they will be prohibited from entering the store again.

It is very important for parents to find out if the retailer intends to turn the matter over to the police and file formal shoplifting charges.  If this is the case and the child is required to appear before a judge, parents need to seek legal assistance from a qualified criminal and juvenile court lawyer to ensure that their child’s legal rights are protected.  It is in the best interest of the child’s future that a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer handles shoplifting charges in New Jersey.

Most courts are imposing more severe penalties when prosecuting shoplifters and often adding an additional component to their sentence that includes court-ordered educational classes to deter future crime.  Studies show that less than two percent of those who have been prosecuted and attended mandated educational programs become repeat offenders.

Parents are urged to keep a vigilant eye on their child’s activities, get to know their teenager’s friends, keep a watchful eye on social media forums, and peruse their child’s belongings for signs that may indicate they have been shoplifting.  The most common signs of shoplifting include finding new clothes that you did not purchase as well as new CDs, DVDs, or electronics.

If you suspect your child is stealing, talk to them in the same manner you would approach the topic of drugs and alcohol.  Remain calm, don’t assume or accuse your child of stealing, educate the teenager on the global repercussions of retail theft, and reinforce family moral values.

New Jersey Criminal Lawyer Michele Finizio Defends Those Charged with Shoplifting in New Jersey

If your child has been charged with shoplifting in New Jersey, protect their rights by calling experienced Camden County criminal lawyer, Michele Finizio, Esq.  Our criminal lawyers are committed to providing the best defense and legal strategy that will protect your child’s future.  Fill out our online contact form or call 609-230-0374 to schedule a consultation today.  Our office is located in the Cherry Hill area and we serve clients throughout southern New Jersey, including Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County and Salem County.

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I could not have asked for a better attorney. Michele Finizio treated my cases and the cases of those I've recommended, as if we were part of her family.

-D.A.