What Penalties Can A Minor Face For Shoplifting?

People in retail store

Shoplifting is when someone intentionally takes merchandise from a store without paying for the items. The majority of shoplifters are teenagers and young adults. Since juveniles face a different legal process than adults, you may wonder what consequences a minor can face when caught shoplifting. To learn more, read on or reach out to a Nassau County Juvenile Crimes Lawyer today.


If the store chooses to press charges, they can detain a suspected shoplifter for a period of time before law enforcement arrives to take further action. The store must have reasonable cause to detain someone, like if the juvenile shoplifter was caught by an employee or security camera. Once police officers arrive, many times they will file an official report and release the minor to their parents.

Juvenile shoplifting is usually considered an act of delinquency, meaning the minor will need to attend an adjudication hearing in the juvenile justice system. Thankfully, juvenile courts aim to reform minors rather than give harsh punishments.


Juvenile delinquents have a different legal process than adult criminals. Juvenile offenses, including shoplifting, are generally handled in juvenile court or family court. In some cases, juveniles as young as 13 can be tried in adult court, but this is pretty rare and mostly reserved for serious offenses like murder or sexual assault.

The extent of penalties depends on the value of the merchandise stolen. In New York, shoplifting under $1,000 worth of items is usually considered petit larceny and a class A misdemeanor. Adults can face large fines and up to a year of jail time. For minors, the juvenile tends to favor reformation over punishment. This means that your teen can still face penalties, but the consequences are intended to help lead them toward better behavior in the future.

An effective criminal defense lawyer can often convince the judge to place the minor in a diversion program. This is like a rehabitalition program designed to reform juvenile delinquents by requiring them to take educational shoplifting courses or participate in community service.

Juvenile delinquents can also face time in a juvenile detention center, but often this punishment is only given for repeat or serious offenses. Other punishments that minors can face for shoplifting charges include:

  • Restitution payment for the stolen items
  • Juvenile probation
  • Suspension of driver’s license
  • Counseling

The parents of the minor are liable for any fines that the juvenile receives.

If you’re a parent of a teen facing shoplifting charges, you’ll most likely want a talented and experienced juvenile crimes lawyer on your side. No need to worry, the Law Office of Jacob A. Rudman is here to fight for you! Contact us today for a free consultation.

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