If my 16 year old was charged with shoplifting but it was her friend who stole the items, since she did not assist, conceal or possess the items did she shoplift?

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If my 16 year old was charged with shoplifting but it was her friend who stole the items, since she did not assist, conceal or possess the items did she shoplift?

However, my daughter knew her friend was doing it. What is the law? She was questioned without an adult. Now I have a civil claim for shoplifting but don’t know if she is considered an accomplice and still responsible or still a shoplifter. Can I fight this?

Asked on May 26, 2015 under Criminal Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Just knowing someone else was stealing is not criminal: you are not an accomplice only if he know about a crime. But doing something, anything, to help the crime along--spotting for the criminal and telling her if the coast is clear; distracting a clerk or security; holding the criminal's other belongings so that she can carry the stolen item; etc.--can be enough to trigger liability. And beyond what your daughter did or did not do, there's the evidence of what does it *look* like she did? And will her friend try to blame it all or partly on her?

You need to consult with a criminal defense attorney. Your daughter may well be innocent, or at least have a good defense--but there are also circumstances under which she can face criminal liability.


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