What Are the Consequences for Shoplifting by a Juvenile in Illinois?

Posted on in Family Law

Kane County juvenile criminal defense lawyerIn the United States, a person is considered a juvenile if he or she is under 18 years old. You may have heard the phrase “juvenile delinquency” before, but you may be unsure about what it actually means. It is generally defined as the repeated commitment of criminal offenses by a young person, typically one below the age at which traditional criminal prosecution is possible. In many instances where a crime was committed by a minor, a separate juvenile court system hears these cases and promotes rehabilitation as opposed to penalties such as jail time. Nonetheless, it is important to know that as an Illinois parent, you could be held liable for injuries or losses caused by your child’s actions.

Possible Penalties for Retail Theft by a Minor

Under Illinois law, shoplifting is also referred to as retail theft or larceny. The crime of shoplifting involves taking an item from a store or retailer with the intent to deprive the owner of its full or partial value. This can mean the offender places the product in his or her pocket or backpack without paying for it. It can also include switching price tags to make an item scan at a lower cost. 

Depending on the age and cooperation of the juvenile thief, the act of shoplifting may be handled in various ways. A store may or may not call the police or press charges. The child could get off with simply a warning. In most situations, the minor’s parents will be notified of the incident, and the retailer will likely prohibit the juvenile from entering the store again. Even if the authorities are called, a minor shoplifter who is taken to the police station may still only receive a warning if it is his or her first offense. 

Juvenile offenses are said to be “adjudicated” as opposed to “convicted.” If a juvenile is found guilty of a theft crime, a few of the more common consequences can include:

  • Release to parents with a warning
  • Reimbursement for stolen merchandise
  • Probation lasting up to six months or more
  • Participation in a diversion program, such as community service
  • The requirement to undergo counseling/family therapy 
  • Confinement/placement in a juvenile detention center or foster care

Illinois Parental Responsibility Law

A minor who violates the law in Illinois is classified as a “delinquent” instead of a “criminal.” This is because the state assumes that a juvenile can make a mistake and should not be held to the same standards as an adult. Therefore, if a minor is charged, the store may sue for the stolen products, but the case will proceed to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The OJJDP is a federal office that assists states with the development and use of programs created to benefit juveniles.

Under the Illinois Parental Responsibility law, if a minor shoplifts, his or her parent or legal guardian may be civilly liable for the following:

  • Damages equal to the full retail value of the stolen goods
  • An amount no less than $100 and no more than $1,000
  • The business owner’s attorney’s fees and court costs for pursuing the civil lawsuit

Contact a Kane County Shoplifting Defense Attorney

If your minor child has been involved in delinquent behavior, it could land him or her in serious trouble with the law. Whether it is shoplifting, underage drinking, or truancy, you need to understand how Illinois law punishes a juvenile for these crimes. It is also imperative to understand whether you will be held responsible for your child’s offense. That is why it is essential to speak to a Geneva, IL juvenile defense lawyer. At The Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates, we will fight for your child’s rights and work to protect his or her future. To schedule a confidential consultation, call our office today at 630-232-9700.


Recent Blog Posts



Talk to an attorney now. Call 630-232-9700.
For faster response to after-hours inquiries, please   email us.