What to Do If Your Child Has Been Arrested for Shoplifting

By Joel Hancock

Parenting isn’t easy and sometimes children make poor decisions that are out of our control. One call you never want to receive is from the police informing you that your child has been arrested for shoplifting. When receiving such a call it’s easy to feel panic, feeling that your child’s future is ruined. However, it’s important that you try to remain calm and take the necessary steps to protect your child’s best interest, working towards the best possible outcome. 

In North Carolina, the crime of shoplifting occurs when someone takes property without the owner’s consent with the intent to permanently deprive them of their property. The state considers it a type of larceny, or theft. 

Types of Shoplifting

There are a few different types of shoplifting that your child may be charged with depending upon the specific circumstances of each case:

  • If your child was caught with the goods while still in the store, they can be charged with concealment. 
  • If your child was caught with the goods after leaving the store, they can be arrested for larceny. Once someone leaves the store with the goods, it is considered to be a more serious crime. 
  • If the value of the merchandise that your child steals is under $1,000, their shoplifting will be charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
  • If the value of the merchandise your child steals is over $1,000, their shoplifting will be charged as a Class H felony. 

Juvenile v. Adult

If your child is under the age of 18, they will most likely be charged as a juvenile. This means that their case will be decided in juvenile court. Even if your child has committed shoplifting, which is considered a criminal offense as an adult, they would not be charged with a crime. Rather, their behavior would be considered delinquent and instead of a trial they would go through court proceedings known as an adjudication hearing. 

After your child has been arrested, they are still entitled to their rights. Such rights include:

  • The right not to be questioned by the police without an attorney present
  • The right to have a parent with them while being interrogated. 
  • Only being searched if the police have probable cause.
  • The right to remain silent. This is extremely important so that they do not say anything that can later be used against them. 
  • The right to know which crimes they are being accused of. 
  • The right to an attorney for their juvenile court proceedings. This also includes a public defender should they not be able to afford an attorney. 

Possible Penalties

Since children are young and their brains aren’t yet fully developed, the goal of the juvenile court system is to rehabilitate them and their behavior. It’s not to punish them. If your child is found guilty of shoplifting, there are different penalties that they may face. These include:

  • Being released to their parents – If this is your child’s first time committing a crime, the judge may choose just to give them a firm warning about their behavior. 
  • Having to pay a fine – You may have to pay a fine on behalf of your child by a set date. 
  • Counseling – Your child may be ordered to attend counseling. 
  • Community Service – Your child may be ordered to perform a certain number of hours of community service.
  • Restitution – Your child may be ordered to pay restitution to the owner of the property they stole for its value.
  • Probation – Your child may be placed on probation. This is more common if they were charged with shoplifting as a felony. 

Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Helps Those in North Carolina Whose Child Has Been Arrested 

If your child has been arrested it can be a scary time. However, it’s essential to understand that your child still has rights. Your best bet for helping your child is with the help of a knowledgeable and experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney who understands what you are up against and will fight on your behalf. 

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help your child fight this charge. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

About the Author
Joel Hancock is a native of Carteret County, NC. He devotes 100% of his practice to defending those accused of traffic infractions, DWI, misdemeanors, and felonies in Carteret County, NC.