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5 Tips for Parents When an Adolescent is Charged with Theft

Shoplifting is a common crime among teenagers. However, just because they’re accused of it doesn’t mean they’re automatically guilty. For instance, it’s entirely possible to not notice a small item get lost in the corner of a cart and accidentally leave the store with it. Furthermore, if your teen was with others who were shoplifting, they may also be charged with the crime, even though they didn’t participate. In any case, if your adolescent is charged with theft, here are five things you should do.

Don’t Panic

Your first impulse is probably to panic, and maybe even become angry. Take a few moments to cool down. While it can be shocking to hear that your teen is being charged with a crime, it’s hardly the worst thing that can happen.

Hire A Qualified Lawyer

After you’ve calmed down a bit, the next thing you should do is look for a reputable and experienced criminal defense lawyer, like the Decatur Criminal Defense Lawyers from Sessions Law Firm. This person will be your teen’s best advocate during this difficult time and will also be your teen’s best bet for proving his or her innocence.

Do Your Homework

It’s recommended to find out about the shoplifting laws in your state, which can help you determine what kinds of penalties your teen might be facing. In Georgia, stealing goods valued at under $300 is a misdemeanor carrying a possible one-year jail sentence and $1,000 in fines. If it’s over $300, it’s a felony that carries a possible 10-year prison sentence as well as fines. It also carries a permanent felony record, which makes employment difficult. In addition, if over $500 in damages were done during the theft, it carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of two years.

Take A Deal if Possible

Teens involved in theft cases may be able to receive a conditional reduction in sentencing, especially for a first offense. Often times, adolescents will receive the option to participate in a diversion program in exchange for having the charges dropped.

Help and Support Your Teen

Regardless of your teen’s innocence or guilt, they need you now more than ever. The best thing you can do for them is provide guidance and support, even if they appear unwilling to accept it.

Getting charged with theft is an upsetting and alarming occurrence for both teens and their families. It’s important that you don’t try to navigate the legal system on your own. Contact a lawyer today to ensure that your teen is properly represented.

Tim Esterdahl

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