In some of the youth’s eyes, shoplifting isn’t truly a huge deal, but is more of a “rite of passage” when transitioning from childhood to adulthood. What they don’t know, however, is that courts take a severe stance on shoplifting. This is regardless if the offender is a juvenile or an adult. Depending on the circumstances, even the juvenile offender could face harsh penalties.
The Elements of Shoplifting
Generally speaking, shoplifting should include these crucial elements:
- The willful hiding and/or stealing of items that are for sale
- The intention of depriving the owner of the item its value due to non-payment
When creating a solid defense for a shoplifting charge, juvenile attorneys in Albuquerque noted that it’s vital to understand the elements related to the case. For example, the element of “intent” means that the offender doesn’t need to literally take out the shoplifted item with them from the store.
The simple act of hiding the shoplifted item could communicate to the manager or owner that the offender intends to bring the item with them and not pay for it. In addition, you could be charged with shoplifting (or even theft) if you try to avoid paying an item’s real purchase price. For instance, putting items in the discounted pile, swapping price tags, or changing them.
If the offender is younger than 18 years old, the shoplifting charge would be dealt with in the juvenile justice system instead of the criminal court system. Do note that the juvenile justice system also has specific rules and its own prosecutors, judges, and courts. But a shoplifting offense is still the same for adults as it is for juveniles, and the only difference is how it’s handled by juvenile courts.
Seeking Legal Aid
Shoplifting is a significant charge, as it could negatively impact the juvenile’s life once convicted. An attorney experienced in juvenile cases could aid offenders in avoiding the harshest possible punishments or have the shoplifting charge thrown out of court. Additionally, you should check with the juvenile court if it’s possible to seal your record so you could go on with your life without the threat of your record hanging over your head.