Juvenile crime has decreased over the past couple of years, but certain crimes still tend to be popular with teenagers. According to the FBI, there were more than 93,000 juveniles arrested for suspicion of committing theft or larceny in 2017. In the United States, a juvenile is considered to be anyone who is under the age of 18, though the state of Illinois will prosecute those who are 17 or older for serious crimes. Although juveniles are not tried in the same court as adults, the charges that both juvenile and adult offenders face are the same and can become very serious rather quickly.
Illinois law provides for general theft, but there is also a separate statute for charges relating to retail theft. General retail theft occurs when a person takes possession of, carries away or transfers any merchandise from a retail establishment with the purpose of depriving the merchant of the benefit or full or partial retail value of the merchandise.
Retail theft is a Class A misdemeanor as long as the retail value of the merchandise that was stolen was no greater than $300. Penalties for a Class A misdemeanor include up to one year in jail, up to $2,500 in fines and/or up to two years of probation. If the retail value of the merchandise exceeds $300, then the charge is increased to a Class 4 felony. Penalties for Class 4 felonies include one to three years in prison, up to $25,000 in fines and/or up to 30 months of probation.
There are a few different ways a juvenile retail theft offense could be handled. Depending on the child’s age, some retailers may simply give the child a warning and call his or her parent or guardian. Other retailers may not press charges but will contact the police to take the child to the police station where a more serious warning will be given.
In other cases, the retailer will press charges and your child or teenager may be facing criminal charges that he or she will have to answer to. In these cases, it can be helpful to know that many first-time offenders are given the opportunity to proceed with a deferred prosecution program. These programs are designed using community service and counseling, rather than juvenile detention. Once your child has successfully completed the program, the charges are dropped.
Teenagers make mistakes -- we all know this. Rather than punishing them with penalties such as jail time, juveniles are often given the chance to change their behaviors and become law-abiding citizens. If your child has been charged with retail theft, you should immediately contact an Oak Brook, IL retail theft attorney. Being convicted of retail theft can leave your child with a criminal record that could follow them for the rest of their lives. At Myers Law LLC, we understand the gravity of juvenile criminal charges and will do everything in our power to obtain a favorable outcome. Call our office today at 844-984-3529 to schedule a free phone consultation.