There are about 23 million shoplifters in our country today, according to Shoplifters Alternative. About one-quarter of these are teenagers.
There are a significant number of temptations in New Jersey shopping malls, and people in their teens do not have the same reasoning and decision-making capacity that people in their 20s and older have. Peer pressure, temptation or other factors may result in a teenager making a bad decision to steal from a store.
If a juvenile is caught, he or she could be charged with a misdemeanor or a disorderly persons offense.
Juveniles arrested for shoplifting do not have the same rights as adults. There are no jury trials. There is no presumption of innocence until someone is proven guilty. This is because the juvenile justice system is focused on rehabilitation, as opposed to the criminal justice system, in which the emphasis is on deterrence and applying a punishment that fits the crime.
The juvenile justice system strives to help address children’s underlying needs so they will make lawful choices. Experts now consider shoplifting to be a maladaptive coping mechanism to deal with stressful situations in a person’s life. The judge may determine that the child needs counseling or must do community service, take an anger management program or go through a treatment program. Those teens who show they are making efforts to improve on their own will also be viewed favorably.
If a teenager has committed several disorderly persons offenses, then the judge may determine that he or she must be taken into custody. A child could remain in state detention for up to six months.
If you have a child who has been arrested on shoplifting or any other criminal charges, you are probably angry, upset, disappointed and scared. Whether your child is saying it or not, he or she is probably terrified, too. Talking with an attorney who understands and has experience working successfully on behalf of teens and their families in the juvenile justice system can help.
Get Help Now From an Attorney at Mallon and Tranger, in Freehold, NJ
To arrange a free consultation with a lawyer who understands what you are going through and can help you protect your child’s rights and future, e-mail us or call the Freehold Law Office of Mallon and Tranger at (732) 410-6094.