What are the consequences of a minor shoplifting?

Asked over 2 years ago - Arcadia, CA

Well a couple days ago my friend went to the mall and being the typical teenager he is he ended up shoplifting 2 buttons worth $3.98 in total , long story short they caught him, & all the security did was just getting his name ,last name, number, d.o.b. , and address, the security just escorted him out the mall, they never told him anything tht was going to happen to him , all they told him was that he was banned from the mall today they did.t call the cops. Just the security , this happened in California , & he was 16yrs old at the time, I would like to know what would happen to him now & the consequences that he might get , & if this will affect his future

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Craig Allen Renetzky

    Contributor Level 8

    Answered . A minor charge like this one can have very serious consequences. The matter could result in charges being brought against the minor by the juvenile court. The store also will likely fill a demand for money from the minor's parents or guardian. The charge is Penal Code 484, and is punishable by up to 6 months detention. Due to the amount, age, and lack of record any detention is highly unlikely. However, a theft charge is serious enough that I suggest you talk to an attorney. I have handled numerous PC 484 charges from as a prosecutor in juvenile court, and as a defense attorney.
    Law Offices of Craig Renetzky

  2. Max Allen Keller


    Contributor Level 15

    Answered . a minor shoplifting case can have MAJOR consequences IF a conviction goes on his record. Most likely he will get a citation in the mail with a court date. Even though it is likely a misdemeanor, is still is theft. Just because the police were NOT called, at the time of the incident, he can Still expect to be charged...Theft is a crime of dishonesty, which can keep a person from being employed. So he should consult with a local atty. and if you can't afford one, get a public defender appointed once you go to Court....all with the aim of trying to keep it off your record.

  3. Frank Mascagni III

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . I do not practice in CA, but the case should be prosecuted in Juvenile Court since he is a minor. I can't tell from your post, but since he wasn't arrested nor cited by the police, he may receive a notice or criminal summons to appear at juvenile court. He may also receive a letter from the store seeking claimed money damages for the theft. The notice, if he receives one, from the juvenile court should not be ignored and you should retain counsel to represent him at any juvenile court proceeding. Shoplifting is a minor criminal offense, and if he has no juvenile court prior record should be handled informally by defense counsel and the prosecutor without a criminal conviction. Get competent legal counsel to assist you.

    I am trying to give you a general answer to your question. We do not have an attorney-client relationship by this... more
  4. Benjamin J Lieberman

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . If the police weren't contacted at the time it's unlikely based on what you describe that a criminal prosecution would be pursued. They took his information because they will probably lass it on to an attorney or collection agency who will send him or his parents a letter demanding that they pay money. I generally advise clients to ignore these civil demand letters. You don't owe them anything. In order for you to owe them something they would have to sue you, (in some jurisdictions prove damages which they most likely couldn't do), and win. Even if they could win, the cost of pursuing this is substantially greater than any amount they can possibly recover so they usually don't. They send out these letters because it doesn't cost much and they are hoping that you don't know better and simply send them the money. Nothing will happen to you if you don't pay it. 

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