What to expect if a 17 year old is caught shoplifting out-of-state?

UPDATED: Aug 24, 2011

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What to expect if a 17 year old is caught shoplifting out-of-state?

There was no actual evidence indicating that I stole other than “I saw you do it” but the manager asked me to go back into the store after I had already left, I did, and she accused me of shoplifting. I returned the items and offered to pay, but she called the police. He took me to the back room and decided I was guilty, never bothered to call my parents, and didn’t let me leave until he got all of my information (I’m a minor). He said I would receive a citation in the mail, and if I wanted to I could take it to court. Is there anything I can do to avoid keeping this on my record?

Asked on August 24, 2011 Maryland


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can tell your parents and have them hire you an attorney. Petty theft is not something to take lightly.  There is much more evidence here than "I saw you do it."  You actually gave the shop owner back the items and offered to pay.  Now I think what you are hinting at here is if your rights have in some way been violated by either the shop owner or the police.  That may or may not be true but if you have no one to argue that for you to a judge what good is it?  You are not only going to get a citation in the mail but you are going to get a letter from the store asking for you to pay a huge fine (most likely more than the stuff was worth).  Do not pay it.  Get a lawyer.  And never do it again.

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