In spite of all we try to teach them, juveniles do get themselves charged with theft.  As children grow older their parents naturally give them more trust.  We hope that they are responsible with that trust and can, thereby, mature and gain more trust.  However, it is sometimes the juvenile’s judgment that makes them a juvenile.

When a juvenile is charged with theft they will go through much of the same procedures that adults go through.  Juveniles can be arrested and taken into custody.  When a juvenile is charged with theft she can be processed and released to guardians or she can be taken to the county juvenile detention center.  Juveniles are not taken to adult jail.  Juveniles charged with theft also cannot just post a bond to secure their release like an adult.

If a juvenile is held in custody for theft there has to be a hearing before a juvenile court judge to determine if and when the child will be released.  The first detention hearing must be held within 72 hours of the child being taken into custody.  Many hearings are held the day after the juvenile is placed in the detention facility.  Juveniles charged with theft are likely to be released at the first hearing.  However, if the juvenile is not released at the first hearing, additional detention hearings must take place at least every ten business days.  Most juveniles charged with theft will be released from detention eventually.

Theft charges vary in severity from fine only tickets all the way up to First Degree Felonies depending on the facts of the case.  Juveniles charged with Theft wherein the loss is less than $100 are facing a fine only ticket.  Theft > $100 but < $750 and Theft > $750 but < $2,500 are both misdemeanors.  Thefts, where the total loss is greater than $2,500, are all felonies.  Felony theft charges can be any of; State Jail Felony charges, Third Degree Felony charges, Second Degree Felony charges, and First Degree Felony charges.

The level of the offense is a big part of how serious juvenile punishment can be.  Punishments can range from a stern talking to with a Juvenile Probation Officer all the way up to removal from the parents’ home and placement in a locked facility.  It is also possible for theft charges to be transferred to adult court.  Cases of juveniles being taken out of their homes or being transferred to adult court for theft are the exceptions and not the rule.

Most juveniles charged with theft are charged with straight forward shoplifting.  Shoplifting is a matter of a juvenile taking a product from a store, concealing it and leaving the store without paying for it.  Juveniles committing thefts at school are another type of juvenile theft case that is frequently seen in court.  Kids will take another student’s smartphone or iPad.  Sometimes clothing or makeup is stolen.  These types of thefts are almost always misdemeanors due to the value of the items acquired.

As the typical juvenile theft charge is a misdemeanor, the typical juvenile theft punishment can be predicted.  A first offense misdemeanor theft in juvenile court can be disposed of by Diversion.  Diversion is meeting with a juvenile probation officer and agreeing to complete a program such as Theft Intervention.  In Denton County Juvenile Court, a misdemeanor is more likely to be formally filed in Court.  However, the can still be directed to a first offender program.  Deferred Prosecution is six months of supervision for the juvenile without a finding of guilt.  If the Juvenile successfully completes the terms of Deferred Prosecution, the theft charges are dismissed.  At worst, juveniles charged with theft at the misdemeanor level are looking at pleading “true” to the theft allegation in front of the judge and serving six months of formal probation.

Contact the Peugh Law Firm

While theft may seem like a minor offense, the possible penalties show that the juvenile courts consider it to be a very serious crime. You could end up in adult court or in a locked down juvenile facility. Even sentences of probation can last until the juvenile is 18 years of age.  Because of these potential consequences, even if you have been charged with one of the less serious theft offenses you should immediately contact an attorney who has experience defending those accused of theft. The staff at The Peugh Law Firm has years of experience successfully defending clients in the Denton County Juvenile Court who have been accused of all kinds of theft. Contact us at (940) 566-0271 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your case.