It's a frightening thing to get a call from the police. "Your daughter Eve has been charged with shoplifting."
Eve was at the mall with friends, and they were stopped by store security with unpaid merchandise in their backpacks. Total value, under $100.
Now you have a problem - defending your child, but also dealing with the challenges facing you. You want to avoid conviction at all costs. Nothing good will come from conviction.
The legal aspects of the problem are serious. You will need an attorney who is experienced with juvenile offenses, and knows the defenses, and is committed to your child's future. The process will still be stressful, but not as damaging as being convicted of the offense.
More concerning is what to do about the behavior. Kids from every background do it - rich kids, poor kids, A students, C students. Kids tend to steal as a social act, or as a way to get off, to combat boredom. Sometimes it is an act of defiance, or a call for help. Rarely is the reason: "I really needed that item."
Young people often have a poor sense of the consequences of actions, and in the case of shoplifting, they are very nearly correct. Authorities estimate that kids are caught stealing once in every 50 attempts. And even when they are caught, police are involved only half the time.
Shoplifting or retail fraud is a big deal - for store owners and parents. The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention estimates that $13 billion is lifted every year - that's about $35 million every day. Most shoplifting is done by kids from 13 to 17.
What we do
At MacDonald Law Office LLC of Salisbury, we address the legal side of the charges against your son or daughter. But we keep our eyes on the real prize - the kind of young man or young woman your child will become.
We recommend that you conduct your own investigation, questioning your child about what really happened, and if it has happened before. Because so much is at stake, it is necessary to get through, even if you have struggled communicating with your child, as many parents of teens do.
Making things right
We recommend making amends, paying for the stolen items or returning them, and apologizing to the party they stole from.
These actions will help the court to look favorably upon your child. More important, they contribute to the sense of responsibility and accountability that will be critical to your child's life going forward.