What Happens to a Minor Caught Shoplifting?

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Teen shoplifting

Getting caught committing a crime can be potentially adverse for anyone, no matter their age. Shoplifting is when someone intentionally takes merchandise from a store without paying. It’s considered a petty crime and is most often committed by teenagers and young adults. Many people wonder how minors are treated in comparison to adults when it comes to shoplifting cases. If you’re a minor charged with shoplifting, you’ll need a Mercer County Juvenile Offense Lawyer on your side. Continue reading or contact us for more information about juvenile shoplifting cases.


In the event that a minor is caught shoplifting, the store may choose to press charges. In New Jersey, stores are allowed to detain anyone accused of shoplifting for a short period of time until law enforcement arrives to take further action. However, the store must have reasonable cause in order to detain you and successfully press charges. The legal process for minors is much different than the process for adults, especially in cases of shoplifting. Most of the time, juvenile shoplifting cases are handled in family court or juvenile court, which both tend to favor rehabilitation rather than punishment.


In New Jersey, the extent of the consequences for shoplifting depends on the value of the merchandise stolen. Compared to other states, however, New Jersey courts take shoplifting seriously when it comes to consequences. A minor that steals less than $200 worth of merchandise could possibly face up to six months in a juvenile detention center. At the same time, juvenile offenses are typically handled by the Family Division of the Superior Court. The extent of the consequences depends on the circumstances of the incident, the strength of evidence against the defendant, and the juvenile’s criminal history.

Most of the time, first-time offenders won’t need to face time in a detention center. For a first offense, the judge can require the juvenile to participate in a diversion program rather than face punishment. This is because minors’ brains aren’t fully developed so juveniles are more susceptible to peer pressure, poor decision-making, and unawareness of consequences. To avoid time in a detention center, your attorney will need to convince the judge that reformation is more effective than punishment.

Some of the most common repercussions for juvenile shoplifting include:

  • Paying for the stolen merchandise
  • An additional fine
  • Juvenile probation
  • Counseling

The parents or guardians of the minor are held liable for any fines or civil penalties.

Has your teen recently been caught allegedly shoplifting? Looking for trusted legal advice from a criminal defense lawyer with decades of experience? Look no further, the Law Office of Douglas Herring is here for you! Reach out for quality legal counseling from a defense attorney with decades of valuable experience.

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