What To Do If Your Child Was Arrested For Shoplifting In Florida
There are numerous calls you do not want to receive as a parent, and picking up the phone to learn that your child was arrested for shoplifting is certainly one of them. Shoplifting is covered under Florida’s statute on retail theft, which focuses on the value of the stolen items as a determining factor. Some offenses are misdemeanors, but the bar is low for more serious charges. If the retail theft exceeds $300, your child could be facing a Third Degree Felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Therefore, it is critical that parents and the accused minor know what to do about shoplifting charges. The first step is a familiar one, so make sure to contact a Fort Lauderdale shoplifting attorney right away. Some additional tips can help you support your lawyer in defending the charges.
Cooperate, But Remain Silent
Aside from consulting with legal counsel, the right to remain silent is at the core of the US criminal justice system. You should instruct your child to cooperate with police, but not to offer any information related to the shoplifting allegations. This approach can be tricky when you are not at your child’s side, knowing that minors can be questioned outside the presence of their parents. You might receive some reassurance knowing that a confession is not admissible as evidence unless the child understands civil rights, which is closely tied to whether you were present.
Understand the Prosecutor’s Burden
Always keep in mind that the accused does not have to prove innocence; it is up to the government to prove each essential element of shoplifting beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor must show that your child carried away merchandise, property, or other items of value from a store. Plus, there are other acts that may violate Florida retail theft laws, including:
- Altering a price tag or bar code;
- Removing shopping carts from the store; and
- Transferring merchandise from bins to manipulate the price.
Familiarize Yourself with the Juvenile Delinquency Process
In many shoplifting cases, your child’s case will not be heard in the same court as adult offenders. The exception is that grand theft is a discretionary direct file matter, which means officials may opt to transfer the case to adult court.
Prepare for Penalties
Florida treats juveniles with a view to rehabilitation instead of punishment, so a minor accused of retail theft will go through delinquency proceedings. If it is determined that your child broke the law, sanctions may include:
- Probation under terms set by the court, such as community service and a formal apology; and
- Commitment based upon detention levels at home, through a program, or in juvenile prison.
Set up a Consultation with a Florida Retail Theft Defense Lawyer
If your child was arrested for shoplifting, please contact attorney Kevin J. Kulik to set up a no-cost consultation at our offices in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Once we assess your circumstances, we can advise you on what to expect with juvenile or criminal proceedings.