My daughter and her friend were arrested in Charlotte, North Carolina for shoplifting in the amount of $250. This is the only time she's ever been in trouble with the law. The friend, however, we found out yesterday has a history of shoplifting and lying and has a juvenile arrest for a prior shoplifting incident. The friend is being charged for shoplifting, resisting and obstruction. My daughter only the shoplifting. My daughter admitted to both the police and myself that she had stolen before. I am a very involved parent and was extremely shocked and angered by her actions. (The parent of the other child, however, was angry and argumentative with the police, according to them and my daughter.) Knowing these facts, what are the possible consequences for my daughter?
Criminal Defense Attorney
Ultimately the answer to your question depends exactly on what your daughter was charged with. People often interchange the charges of shoplifting and larceny which would slightly change the answer. For the purposes of this answer, I'm going to assume that she was charged with shoplifting - concealment of goods.
Shoplifting - concealment of goods is a class 3 misdemeanor in North Carolina which, if tried as an adult, exposes her to a maximum punishment of the 20 days in the county jail. However, if she was under the age of 16 at the time of the offense, she will be treated as a juvenile and referred to juvenile court.
If your daughter has never been in any trouble before, the juvenile court counselor may attempt to divert her case in order to keep her out of juvenile court. Often times this involves developing a plan or contract with the juvenile, monitoring the juvenile or a referral of services by the court counselor. If there is non-compliance by you or your daughter, the court counselor may seek to file a petition in the case.
The alternative is that the court counselor goes straight into filing a petition against your daughter. Once filed, your daughter has the right to an attorney and one will be appointed by the court if you cannot afford one (however, the costs of such attorney may have to be repaid). The juvenile is then afforded an adjudication hearing at which point she may admit responsibility to the crime (which is similar to pleaing guilty in adult court) or she may deny responsibility and ask for a trial. Please note that the burden in juvenile court is less than the regular criminal court of "beyond a reasonable doubt". In juvenile court the burden is "clear and convincing evidence".
If the judge ultimately finds that the juvenile is responsible for the crime, the court then moves to the disposition phase. Given the offense and what you've told me about your daughter's lack of a prior record, she would likely be classified as a Level 1 offender. Punishments for a Level 1 offender can range from probation, community service, curfew, denial of drivers' license, etc.
Ultimately, your daughter will have the right to an attorney that has a better feeling for your local court counselors and district attorney's office. I encourage you to contact one and speak to them about your daughter's case.