It might start innocently enough. Maybe your teenager wants something small, but doesn’t have the money for it. Or maybe a friend is encouraging your child to shoplift with them. Or maybe they enjoy the “rush” that comes with taking something – even something small.

Many teenagers struggle with shoplifting for many different reasons. If your child has been caught shoplifting, you probably want to figure out why they stole, and what happens next. I’ll discuss these things and more here.

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 not purchased goods or merchandise of any store or other mercantile establishment 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.

Getting Help

Your child’s case will likely depend on the value of what was stolen, if this is their first offense, and other factors. Contacting a juvenile defense attorney such as myself can make sure that your child’s case is handled correctly. For more information, please contact my office at 203-925-9200. We can set up a free consultation to discuss your child’s situation and how to proceed.

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