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Should I worry about going to juvenile hall?

Santa Rosa, CA |

I'm 15 years old turning 16 in a week. I was caught shoplifting about $40 in merchandise. this is my second offense, the first time i was 11. the police was called and I was told by mall security that I would recieve a letter in the mail and I would have to pay a fine up to $500 and/or do community service. although I wasn't told, should I worry about going to juvenile hall? and what should I expect in court? it will be my first time in court.

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Attorney answers 4


This being your second offense, you COULD potentially be going to the Juvenile Detention, however if you get an attorney to represent you, especially for (an) item(s) amounting to just $40, detention can be avoided altogether, along with other conditions that the court may impose if you're not properly represented.

At your age, the best outcome would be if this experience taught you a lesson. :)



Karine Basmadjian, what if we can not afford an attorney?

Karine Basmadjian

Karine Basmadjian


An attorney will be appointed to you by law. This refers to the Public Defender's office, and they usually don't have the time to consult with you or advise you of what could be done or should be done. They will be inclined to close the case as soon as possible. There is a reason why people do not just go with free appointed counsel, and choose to hire an attorney on their own.


Its a possibility and a great deal will depend on other factors. Retain local counsel to represent you. Good luck.

The response above is not intended as legal advice since it’s impracticable to provide thorough, accurate advice based upon the query without additional details. It is highly recommended that one should seek advice from a criminal defense attorney licensed in your jurisdiction by setting up a confidential meeting. Moreover, this response does not constitute the creation of an attorney-client relationship since this message is not a confidential communication because it was posted on a public website, thereby publicly disclosing the information, which is another reason to setup a confidential meeting with an attorney.


Based solely on what your question states, the answer is no. I do not think you should worry about going into custody. Your first offense was almost five years ago. The current offense seems very minor. I would expect you to placed on some form of diversion, perhaps HOP, wherein you would have to complete some community service and probation would monitor you for grades and school attendance for perhaps a year.

I would not overlook fighting the merits of the case, such as via a motion for civil compromise to have the case dismissed up front, so you do not have to deal with HOP at all (or custody time).

You may want to do an online shoplifting course now (through the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention). There are two courses. One is about four hours and costs about $40. Complete it and print out the completion certificate and then show it to your counsel and make a copy for the judge.

Good luck.


No but continue doing this and you may end up in juvenile hall!

My name is Stephen R. Cohen and have practiced 39+ yrs. I can be reached at 213-819-1171. I practicein Los Angeles and Orange County, CA. I give only appointments over the phone., these services do not create an attorney client relationship. My answers may offend as I do not believe in pulling punches or sugar coating the truth, I use common sense as well as the law. Other state's laws may differ and I would appreciate it if you feel like marking my answers helpful or best. There are a lot of really good attorneys on this site, I will do limited appearances which are court documents , less expensive.

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