Petty theft generally occurs when someone steals something of low value. As a result, petty theft is a misdemeanor charge and deals with inexpensive goods. For example, stealing a jacket from a store or stealing $50 from an employer constitute petty theft.
If charged with petty theft as a minor, you will probably face different punishments than adults. Some potential penalties for minors include juvenile detention and probation. Juvenile detention occurs at a residential facility for juvenile offenders only. It is a secure facility where minors can undergo rehabilitation programs. Probation for minors is similar to probation for adults. However, instead of serving a jail sentence, minors will report straight to a probation officer. These punishments are meant to keep minors out of jail while still reprimanding them for their crime. Sometimes a fine or different kind of rehabilitation program is imposed. But, that will depend on the severity of the petty theft that you commit.
Connecticut’s Public Act No. 09-138 defines larceny six as, “(a) A person is guilty of larceny in the sixth degree when he commits larceny as defined in section 53a-119 and the value of the property or service is…five hundred dollars or less. (b) Larceny in the sixth degree is a Class C misdemeanor.” If charged with larceny six, adults face a fine of $500 and a jail sentence of three months. However, a minor might receive alternative punishments, such as community service, probation, or smaller fines. The punishment will depend on the age of the defendant. It also depends on their previous offenses, and the nature of the case. If you commit larceny, you can have two cases pending against you – a criminal one, to punish you for larceny, and a civil one, in which the victim can ask for compensation.
Connecticut’s Public Act No. 09-138 defines larceny in the fifth degree. It states that, “(a) A person is guilty of larceny in the fifth degree when he commits larceny as defined in section 53a-119 and the value of the property or service exceeds…five hundred dollars. (b) Larceny in the fifth degree is a Class B misdemeanor.” Again, a minor might receive punishments such as fines, community service, probation, and rehabilitation. Because this is only a misdemeanor, it will most likely be processed in the juvenile court.
Of these types of larceny, larceny in the fourth degree is the most serious. Connecticut’s Public Act No. 09-138 explains that, “(a) A person is guilty of larceny in the fourth degree when he commits larceny as defined in section 53a-119 and the value of the property or service exceeds…one thousand dollars. (b) Larceny in the fourth degree is a Class A misdemeanor.” The punishments for this crime could be as much as a fine of $2,000 and a year in jail. However, many juvenile offenders do not receive the maximum punishments for this crime.
What is Shoplifting?
Shoplifting is a common form of theft generally considered a minor crime. Many times, teenagers or young adults are those who shoplift, and they might do so for many reasons. Shoplifting happens when a person intentionally take any goods, wares or merchandise offered for sale by any store or other mercantile establishment, they have shoplifted. If they do this with the intention of keeping the item without paying the purchase price, it constitutes shoplifting. Intent in this crime is important. If a person does not intend to defraud a store or another establishment, they don’t commit this crime. For example, if your child put an item in their cart at a store and accidentally walks out of the store without paying, they can use this as a defense to this charge.
If a person intentionally conceals goods or merchandise not yet purchased, it is presumed that they intend to take the item without purchasing it. This is what the police will try to prove in a shoplifting case. So, providing a defense could hinge on the facts of your child’s intentions.
Why Do Teenagers Shoplift?
Teenagers might shoplift for various reasons. It is important to remember that the brain is not fully developed while a person is in their teenage years. Some studies indicate that the brain is not fully developed until a person turns 25! Because of this, many teenagers have a difficult time fully thinking their actions through. They tend to act recklessly and impulsively, instead of stopping to think about the consequences.
So a young person might shoplift just for the rush of doing something reckless. In other cases, a teenager might shoplift due to peer pressure. If their friends want to steal from a store, they might get caught up in the situation and go along with it.
Many teenagers can’t fully think through the consequences of their actions. This is actually one of the reasons why juvenile offenders face a different court process than adults. The court recognizes that children need help – not punishment.