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How Are Juvenile Retail Theft Charges Handled in Illinois?

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joliet juvenile criminal defense lawyerJuvenile crime has decreased over the past few years, but certain crimes still tend to be associated with teenagers. Each year, according to federal statistics, tens of thousands of juvenile suspects are arrested on suspicion of committing theft or larceny. In the United States, a juvenile is considered to be anyone who is under the age of 18. Although juveniles are typically not tried in the same court as adults, they may face similar charges and penalties that can become very serious rather quickly. Teenagers and young adults who are 18 years or older face adult criminal penalties. 

What is Retail Theft?

Illinois law not only defines the offense of general theft, which occurs when someone unlawfully takes possession or control of property that belongs to someone else, but also the specific offense of retail theft. 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.

Handling Juvenile Retail Theft

There are a few different ways that 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 they might 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 the child or teenager may face juvenile charges that they 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 can be dropped.

Contact a Knowledgeable Will County Juvenile Crimes Lawyer

Teenagers make mistakes, and rather than punishing them with penalties such as jail time, juvenile courts often give them 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 experienced Joliet juvenile defense attorney. Being convicted of retail theft can leave your child with a juvenile or criminal record that could follow them into the future. At Reeder & Brown, P.C., we understand the gravity of juvenile charges and will do everything in our power to obtain a favorable outcome. Call our office today at 815-885-5980 to schedule a free consultation.



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