While lawyers and judges are the ultimate legal experts, of course, I believe that every citizen should take the time to learn a little about law for several reasons. First, it is important to know your rights, and knowing them can come in handy if anyone ever accuses you of a crime you didn't commit or threatens you legally in another other way. Second, learning about your local, state, and federal laws can help you act as a better citizen. When election time comes around, you can then truly understand ever change in law being proposed by a candidate and whether it benefits society or not. I plan to share posts about law topics explained in plain English on my new blog, so you can come back often to sharpen your legal knowledge!
As your child matures and transitions into adulthood, they will likely make several mistakes that turn into good learning lessons. Unfortunately, in some cases these mistakes may be small crimes that lead to arrests and charges. Among some of the most reported crimes for teenagers is theft. A petty theft charge varies by state, but typically involves the theft of an item or items that are valued under $1,000. If your child has been charged with petty theft, it can be a really scary situation as the charges move forward. Instead of being in the dark, it's important to know the different potential outcomes of the case. The following four outcomes are some of the more likely scenarios for a teenager charged with petty theft. By knowing the possibilities, you can prepare and get legal help if necessary.
The crime of petty theft is classified as a misdemeanor. Even though it is not a felony, there could still be jail time involved if your teenage child is convicted. The maximum sentencing for a petty theft crime is typically one year. However, this type of sentencing is typically kept for repeat offenders and will likely not be the result of your child's charges. Your child's record can have a big impact on the way that the sentencing plays out. If your child has never been arrested before then a criminal law attorney can use these facts to help reduce sentencing and avoid jail time all together.
Dropped Charges & "Stay Away" Orders
One of the main goals for a petty theft case is to have the charges dropped so they do not appear on your teen's record. Having a criminal record with theft charges can make a huge impact on the ability to get a job and pass various background checks. Even though the charges may get dropped in a case, there may be conditions for your teenager to follow. One of these conditions is a "stay away" order. This basically means that your teenager cannot return to the place of business that they stole from. This can be a permanent order or a temporary order that only lasts for a certain amount of years. As a criminal law attorney negotiates your dropped charges, they may offer up this order to help get the process completed.
Community Service & Classes
Instead of facing jail time, teenagers may deal with a different type of punishment. One of the main types is community service hours. Depending on the crime and state, the teen may be sentenced to a set amount of community service hours. The community service they perform can vary, but typically includes different community activities like picking up trash or cleaning public parks. In some agreements, the charges may be removed from a record once the community service is completed.
Along with community service, your teen may be forced to attend anti-theft classes. These classes can teach teenagers the impact that theft has on the business and community as a whole. By attending these classes, your teen can see how wrong it was to steal and learn to make better decisions in situations in the future. As the charges move forward, a lawyer can recommend these punishments to help get your case dismissed.
Fines & Restitution
One of more common punishments that your teenager may face is fines for the theft. In many cases, the fines could be double or triple the value amount of the actual theft. In other cases, your teenager may be charged with a fine in addition to restitution for theft that occurred. This means that your child will have to pay the full value of the item or items that were stolen. If a conviction is upheld, then your attorney can try to reach this agreement instead of a harsher punishment like jail time.
Aside from keeping a criminal record clean, one of the more important parts of going through this process is ensuring that your child learned their lesson. A criminal attorney from a firm like Rolsch Law Offices can help guide you through the process and communicate openly with your child about the potential charges.