What Do I Do If My Child Is Caught Shoplifting in New Jersey?

girl looking at clothes

As a parent, the last thing you want to receive is a phone call from a store manager or police officer informing you that your child has been caught shoplifting. This can bring about immense feelings of anger, stress, and disappointment. However, it’s essential to remain calm, as you’ll need to ensure you take the correct steps to help your child. If you’re unsure where to start, a Camden County juvenile crime attorney can help you and your child navigate the process.

Does My Child Have Rights if They Were Caught Shoplifting?

It’s essential to understand what rights your child has and what the merchant can do if they are caught stealing from a store. Your child should follow the orders of the store manager or the police officer, as resistance can hurt their case if it goes to court.

If there is probable cause, the store manager or officer may request to search your child’s backpack or purse. This is a legal request and within the scope of the investigation. However, they are not allowed to search your child’s clothing. If requested, your child should consent to a bag search but should not agree to have their clothing inspected. However, if there is no probable cause, agreeing to a search could inhibit your ability to sue the merchant for a privacy violation.

What Are the Penalties?

Generally, if your child is caught shoplifting, they could face a litany of penalties. Depending on the value of the item or items stolen, they could face anywhere from six months to three years in detention.

However, it is not uncommon for first-time offenders to be released to their parents and ordered to return or pay the retail price of the item. The consequences for repeat offenders tend to be harsher, as it shows a pattern of disregard for the law.

As a Parent, What Should I Do?

If you receive a phone call that your child is shoplifting, you’ll first want to take notice of who is calling. If it is the store manager, you may be able to work out a deal with them in order to avoid police interaction. However, if the police are calling, you’ll want to contact a lawyer.

When you arrive at the scene where your child is, it’s best to avoid asking them questions or saying anything that can later be used against them in a court of law. You should advise your child to stay quiet until you get in touch with a lawyer.

You should also pay attention to your child’s room. If they start accumulating items that look unfamiliar or expensive, it could be a warning sign that they have been shoplifting. Talking to them about the implications of shoplifting is essential to help deter them from making the wrong choices.

Though you may be upset with your child, it is imperative to think about their future. Your best bet is to contact one of our seasoned attorneys at Thomas Demarco & Associates, LLC.

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