• What happens if you get caught shoplifting?

    Date: 09.07.07 | by Judge Tom.

    One question on AsktheJudge concerns the possible consequences for teens and tweens who have been caught shoplifting. Check out the example scenarios below and find out who could be cited, arrested and/or charged with shoplifting. If you want information specific to your case, please feel free to ask Judge Tom. Just use the comment section below or the Ask Box in the right sidebar.

    Scene One: After school, Julie, Colin, and Matt stop at the local store for a snack and something to drink. Julie is by herself for a few seconds, and she slips a pack of gum into her pocket, knowing that she doesn′t have enough money to pay for all of the items she wants. She pays for her chips and drink and leaves the store with her friends.

    Scene Two: Julie, Colin, and Matt only have 60 cents between them. They stop at the store, and while Matt keeps the car running, Julie and Colin enter the store. While Colin distracts the clerk, Julie puts a six-pack of beer in her backpack. They leave the store and begin to party at a nearby park.

    Teens Shopping

    Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

    Shoplifting is defined as taking property that′s displayed for sale, without paying for it. It′s a crime with both civil and criminal penalties. It′s also a crime that requires intent. If you were shopping and put something in your pocket, continued shopping, went to the checkout and paid for everything but the item in your pocket, you could be questioned about your intentions.

    If it turned out that you had the money to pay for the item and didn′t act or look suspicious during the incident, you would probably be allowed to leave. Otherwise, you could be held for further questioning or for the police.

    Scene One above presents a different picture. Julie knew that she didn′t have enough money for everything she wanted, so she stole the gum and paid for the rest. This is shoplifting, and since her friends didn′t know or play any part in the incident, they would be free to go if caught by the store owner.

    Scene Two is your classic “beer run,” where all involved know exactly what′s happening and what their role is. Just because Julie took the beer doesn′t mean the others won′t be prosecuted if caught. Under the law, anyone aiding a crime shares full responsibility, just as if he or she had actually committed the act. Julie, Colin, and Matt could all be charged with shoplifting and possession of alcohol.

    In many jurisdictions, a store can collect a civil penalty, plus the cost of the item taken, from the shoplifter or his or her parents. For example, the civil penalty for the stolen six-pack could be $100, plus the retail cost of the beer.

    If you’re caught shoplifting, the police could refer the case to the local prosecutor who decides whether to file charges or not. First-time (or first offense) shoplifters usually go through a diversion program, which includes counseling, community service hours, and restitution. If you′re caught a second time, probation may be considered, with specific terms set by the court including time in detention. If you continue to steal, you could be sent to the state department of juvenile corrections.

    Read here about 12-year-old Chris Moss who took $20.00 from his father’s wallet. Although not shoplifting, stealing is stealing regardless of the title it’s given: theft, larceny, embezzlement, etc.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    2,020 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • steve
      Wed, 08 Apr 2009 at 03:29

      I have a question, my brother and I go to the store. My brother he steal the game but I didn’t know that, after he took the game card out of the box he gives the game card to me and ask me to hold it for him ( I thought that his own game, so I just take and put in my pocket). When we leave the store the guard stop us and said we are shopplifting. I really don’t know what happen, but my brother he just 15 and I 18, so when the security guard said he saw my brother took out the game and after that gave to me, but my brother younger so he can’t blame my brother and he force me the criminal because I’m 18 years old. The question is I’m innocent but the guard just want to nail me because I’m 18 I have responsible for my brother that is right or wrong.

      Judge Tom’s response:
      Under the laws of your state or country you may or may not be responsible for the acts of your younger brother. If you knew in advance what he was going to do, then you may be charged as an accessory to the shoplifting. If you didn’t know what he was doing, you need to explain this to your lawyer or to the court. In the United States, you are innocent until the state or local prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. The final decision is up to the court to decide or the jury if there is one in this case. Good luck.

    • Ashley
      Mon, 10 Aug 2009 at 09:26

      Hey, I have a question
      What will i get, me and a friend got caught shoplifting from Shopko, and we are both only 15. What will be the punishment?

      Judge Tom’s response:
      The penalty for shoplifting depends on the laws of your state, the value of the item shoplifted [if over a certain amount it may be considered a felony], your age and history of offenses if this isn’t your first time in court, and a number of other factors. You may be placed on probation and required to complete community service hours, attend a class, or even spend time in juvenile detention if the judge thinks its appropriate. Good luck.

    • Lindsay
      Sat, 15 Aug 2009 at 11:01

      ok so me and my friends were gonna pull a prank we were gonna put some items into a basket and leave it by the entrance because theres a hidden hallway and we grab a bunch of ridiculous items like lipstick, chicken, silly string and markers, we didnt want to get caught for vandalism so we put the items in a bag and while we were heading to entrance by the hidden hallway the security worker stopped us and accused us of shoplifting, we past the electronic security, but we DIDNT leave the store yet with the items, can we still be cleared knowing that we werent gonna leave with the items and were gonna put them back by putting them in the basket?

      Judge Tom’s response:
      Whether what you did is shoplifting or not depends on the laws of your state. Even though you didn’t actually leave the store with the items, under some larceny/theft/shoplifting laws, you may have committed a crime. Look up these crimes in your area, or Google “shoplifting” and your state’s name for the specifics that apply to you. Good luck.

    • Lindsay
      Sun, 16 Aug 2009 at 10:05

      thanks judge tom, i hope the judge understands, shoplifting didnt even occur in our mind, when i was accused i felt so disappointed and mad all at the same time, i didnt know what to think, i would never do anything like that

    • Ashley
      Sun, 16 Aug 2009 at 02:07

      Say i got caught shoplifting from one store, but earlier that day i stole things from other stores and didn’t get caught. What should i do with the stuff i didn’t get caught with?

      Judge Tom’s response:
      Return it. That way you can know you did the right thing and you can put it behind you. The store owner may appreciate your honesty. Good luck.

    • Tiqqer
      Wed, 19 Aug 2009 at 11:47

      hi. im 14 years young and live in maryland and i was caught shoplifting (1st time) some fake rings and a fake necklese at JCP i dnt know that there were LPs around and i was also there with my mom,lil’ sista and uncle when my mom paid for the stuff she bought we headed to th exit door and 2 LP stoped me/us and said some stuff were stoled my mom got really scared and started overactin(since my mom had no idea tht i shoplifted) as i was qiving the item to the LPs after that they took me/mom for questioning and than the popo came and than some more questions.the amount doubled was around 200 something what can my mom and i expect when we go to jail and how long will the saty in my record? ( my mom had no idea tht i shoplifted)
      thanks

      Judge Tom’s response:
      What will happen when you go to court depends on the shoplifting laws where you live. Since this is your first time, if the value of the items taken was small, you may be offered diversion. That means you may have to do some community service hours for dismissal of the charge. Or you may be ordered to complete a class, counseling or a term of probation. Good luck.

    • Matt
      Thu, 10 Sep 2009 at 02:11

      I got caught stealing gum two days ago, the employee told me to put it back and let me leave. I know they got my license plate on camera, but I don’t know if they called the police or not. Could the put a warrant on me with just my license plate and how likely do you think the chance is that they will call the police on me is.
      Judge Tom’s response:
      You may get lucky and hear nothing further about the incident. Hopefully you’ll learn something from it. If you haven’t heard from the police by now you’re not likely to but don’t gloat about it – your time will come if you continue to break the law. All the best.

    • Matt
      Thu, 10 Sep 2009 at 06:09

      Thank you, I did it completely out of impulse and I felt really bad about it. I was really worried that it would come back to haunt me during college applications next year.
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Even if you’re charged with shoplifting, you can ask for your juvenile record to be expunged. It shouldn’t have any effect on college applications. Study hard and good luck.

    • Ellen
      Sat, 26 Sep 2009 at 07:41

      I’m pretty sure that i was might have been caught shoplifting. While i was not apprehended, i think my license plate was taken. The items in question were less than 30 dollars total.

      What should i expect to happen?

      Judge Tom’s response:
      If you have not heard anything by now, you may have gotten lucky. However, if this incident just occurred and you end up hearing from the police, the possible charges that could be filed vary depending on the laws in your state. If this is your first offense and you have no prior criminal history, you could be placed in a diversion program which allows the court to dismiss the charges after certain requirements are met which may include probation, community service hours and payment of a fine. We certainly hope you learned your lesson from this incident. Good luck.

    • Ruth
      Sun, 27 Sep 2009 at 05:41

      i got caught stealing $30 worth of stuff and i’m 18. They didn’t call the police but i’m still getting fined and other things. i’m scared that i won’t be able 2 get jobs. I’ve never, ever done this before and i’m scared. please help.
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Even though they didn’t call the police, I’m assuming a complaint was made and charges were filed in court since you are paying a fine. Be sure to read any job applications carefully as many ask if you have any “felony convictions”. The answer would be no if either misdemeanor charges were filed or no charges were filed. Once you successfully complete the terms of your probation, you can go back to the court and ask for the conviction to be set aside or for your record to be expunged. If you were not arrested and charges were never filed in court, then you have no criminal record concerning this incident.

    • Ellen
      Sun, 27 Sep 2009 at 09:47

      Dear Judge Tom,
      I have severely learned my lesson. This incident happened yesterday. How long before i know for sure that i am in the clear? I’ve been worried sick and severely and sincerely regret making such a stupid decision.
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Ellen, I’m glad you’ve learned your lesson. If it’s been a couple days by now and you haven’t heard anything, there’s a good chance you have gotten lucky. Every state has what’s called a “statute of limitations” for filing charges. For example, the statute of limitations for filing misdemeanor charges in some states is one year. That means the state has up to one year to actually file the charges. Again, if you have not heard from the store or police by now, it’s unlikely that they are pursuing an investigation.

    • Carly
      Fri, 16 Oct 2009 at 06:51

      hi. me and two of my friends got caught shoplifting today at claire’s for items less than $50. we all are 14 years old and we have never got caught stealing before. we have to go into a family court for a lecture from the judge. will this go on our permanent record? will they inform our school?
      Judge Tom’s response:
      When you’re before the judge, ask him or her these questions. Every state has its own laws about disclosure to schools, and juvenile records. Make this your last trip to court. Good luck.

    • Michelle
      Sun, 18 Oct 2009 at 10:43

      I was caught stealing when I was 16, there were fines but the store said that they weren’t going to press charges. Does this mean it won’t be on my record? (I live in Mass. if that helps.)
      Judge Tom’s response:
      It could mean no record. It depends on if formal charges were filed with the court. Check with the police agency involved at the time – see if they have any record of the incident and if they referred the case to the local prosecutor or juvenile court. Good luck

    • Ang
      Sun, 18 Oct 2009 at 09:55

      Will my parents be involved if I got caught stealing in Illinois at age 17 (considered an adult there) if I live in indiana or can i go to court and do everything myself? Also, what consequences will I likely face (I stole a 10$ bottle of alcohol from kmart)? Lastly, how much money will I lost likely be charged altogether? I’m not trying to get myself out of a bad situation because I’m a bad person, I have a clean record and I am generally a good person, altough, I had an alcohol problem and this was definately a slip for me.
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Call the Illinois court and ask these questions. They should be able to tell you if your parents need to be involved and the process to handle the shoplifting charge. You can expect possibly a fine, maybe restitution to the victim and some community service hours. Stay clean and sober and your legal troubles will end. Good luck.

    • Jack
      Tue, 20 Oct 2009 at 01:46

      Hi, i’m 17, i was caught ‘shoplifting’ in a food store. I had no purpose to steal the fruit but i was going to buy the fruit. It happened like this….i had two large folders in both of my hands. i picked up the fruit i was going to buy and put it in my pocket since both my hands were full. i looked around the shop to see if i needed anything else and i didn’t. then i started walking out of the shop. It wasn’t until a while later the that shopkeeper tapped me on the shoulder and said that i have stolen the fruit. It was then that i remembered the fruit was still in my pocket. Honestly, i had completely forgotten about it! i tried explaining to him but its hard for him to believe. Of course, i wouldn’t believe if i was him. Fortunately, i paid back the money. He didn’t ask for name and address and no police were involved. How do i know if i will face any charges, fines or going to court? It’s only been two days since the inccident.
      Judge Tom’s response:
      It sounds like you’ve lucked out and won’t hear anything from the police or court. If he didn’t take your name, etc. there’s little chance you’ll be charged with shoplifting. Of course there’s always a video that may have captured your movement in the store. If, by chance, you end up in court, explain to the judge what happened. What you’ve described is not uncommon. Yours truly has done exactly the same thing at Home Depot without any intent of not paying. Good luck.

    • karina
      Thu, 22 Oct 2009 at 04:58

      hi, i was caught shoplifting about a month or so and i have to go to court in about a month. i stole some perfume and they took me in the security office and took down my information and called a police women as well. She got my information down as well and called it in and gave me a ticket for my court date. Then my step brother came to pick me up from the security office and told me i just have to go to court. i live in New York and i wanna know what might happen? .. this is my first time and trust me i will never do it again.. but i also want to get a job and have an interview a few weeks after my court date … will that show up in my record? because i really need a job and if i have a record it will be harder =/ help?!
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Make sure you show up on the date set for court. Things will only worsen if you blow it off. If this is your first offense, you could expect some community service hours, a fine, and restitution if the victim is asking for it. Read any question on an employment application very carefully. If you’re in juvenile court, remember you’re not a ‘convicted criminal.’ If anything, you may be an ‘adjudicated minor.’ Language is important, but you must be truthful in answering. Good luck.

    • Melody
      Fri, 23 Oct 2009 at 11:54

      me and my firends both r 13 and we got caught shoplifting at cub foods the cop said we have to go to the court but there is another way that we dont have to but they will give us a phone call and tell us what to do but im wondering can me and my friends just do the community service and dont go to the court or do we have to?
      Judge Tom’s response:
      In most situations you don’t have a choice. It’s up to your local police and prosecutor and the programs available in your area. If you can do community service rather than going to court, that’s best. You may also be able to avoid a juvenile record by completing the diversion program. Good luck, and pay for what you want, or you’ll pay for it later in ways you won’t like.

    • Allie
      Fri, 23 Oct 2009 at 05:37

      my friend and i stole from a store, for the first time. we got caught. i don’t know why we did it.. we really had no intentions on taking anything, but we did. cheap, one thing. and the cop charged her with a misdameanor and me only a warning, we have court on the 5th of novmeber. what is going to happen? and will i get any court fines or anything? and will it go onto my record, bc i have to sign up for colleges soon. and i’m scared.
      Judge Tom’s response:
      If you were given a warning, you ordinarily wouldn’t be going to court. Your friend may be facing a fine, restitution, community service hours, counseling or probation. It’s up to the judge. Depending on the amount involved and your age, you may or may not have a juvenile record. If you do, you can ask for it to be expunged or cleared once you become an adult. Good luck.

    • Saul Kaya
      Mon, 26 Oct 2009 at 10:05

      hi, I got caught shoplifting for the first time and im 19…

      i have being charge to court… What will happen to me???

      xxxx
      Judge Tom’s response:
      If this is your first offense, you can expect restitution to the victim, community service hours, counseling, a fine and/or probation. The judge could also detain you for a short period depending on the shoplifting laws in your state. Good luck and think twice before re-offending because consequences increase.

    • Melody
      Mon, 26 Oct 2009 at 07:43

      i live in minnesota, and im 13 if i do the commuity service how long do i have to do it
      Judge Tom’s response:
      It’s up to the court and/or your probation officer how long you’ll have to complete the hours you have to do. If you have a legitimate reason, you may be able to get an extension of time, but don’t count on it or put it off to the last minute. Good luck.

    • Jess
      Wed, 28 Oct 2009 at 05:34

      Hi, I have a question about shoplifting; I got arrested, went to a diversion program, paid a fine, and never went to court. If an employer were to do a background check would they be able to find anything? Would that incident be considered a slap on the wrist to behave since I have completed everything that they had asked?
      Judge Tom’s response:
      If you completed the diversion program, it’s not likely that there’s a record available for anyone to see. Juvenile records aren’t usually public, and you haven’t been “convicted” of a crime. You may consider it a slap on the wrist, but if you get another citation, the juvenile court will know about this incident, and it will be taken into consideration. Good luck.

    • Brittany
      Wed, 28 Oct 2009 at 08:54

      hi, my sister shoplifted at rite aid and she’s 13. they (police) said it was informal and she will not go to court, does this go into her record and is her school notified? will this effect her getting a job or anything in the future?
      Judge Tom’s response:
      If your sister does not have to go to court, but has to pay a fine and possibly complete community service hours, it’s likely that your sister’s case has been referred to a “diversion” program. If she successfully completes the diversion program and does everything she is asked to do, she should not have any record of the incident and it should not affect her education or employment opportunities in the future.

    • James
      Thu, 29 Oct 2009 at 11:21

      Im 18 (Canada) and I was caught shoplifting at The Bay, it was a pair of Guess Jeans about 100$, the guy was from loss prevention and i had to go into a back room, he got my info such as my first and last name, my adress and he looked at my care card and SIN number, i told him the truth that i hadn’t stolen anything before and that it was just a stupid dare. They checked into my criminal records and stuff and then said i was getting off with just a ban. Should i be expecting something in the mail? a fine? will it go on my criminal record? Im also going to be going to school to be a cop so…?
      Judge Tom’s response:
      James: Depending on the laws in your province, you may be getting off easy with just a ban from the store or mall. If the storeowner doesn’t report the theft, you’re not likely to have a record. Google “shoplifting” and your province’s name and you should be able to bring up the current status of the law. Think before you repeat this behavior, especially if you’re going into law enforcement. Good luck.

    • Jess
      Fri, 30 Oct 2009 at 12:14

      Dear Judge Tom,

      Thank you for my prior response. My incident with shoplifting happened about 6 years ago in the state of Michigan. I am now 22 and is currently having a background check for my future job. The shoplifting event will not show up at all on my record or will it show an arrest? Would the arrest effect the position? Like I said before I went to a diversion program and also paid the fine but never went to court Therefore you said I was never convicted. I received a call from the recruiter that my background is going through court investigation. It was a stupid thing to do and I have never came encountered with the law ever since then but I did file a domestic violence report, could that also be why I am in the court system? Thank you for your time. Your response is greatly appreciated.
      Depending on the laws that apply to you in your state, filing a domestic violence report as an adult could be a matter of record that could trigger further investigation. DV, as it’s referred to, is serious business nationwide. It’s not an incident taken lightly anywhere. Good luck.

    • Tennile
      Fri, 30 Oct 2009 at 12:32

      Hi my name is Tennile im 21 and i got arrested for fighting with my neighbors and the police charged me with reckless endangerment then later on my neighbors called the police on me again and they charged me with assault my neighbors lied on me a lot so i have to go to court next month and im wondering what will happen
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Tennile, askthejudge.info is a teen-law web site and doesn’t provide legal advice or interpretation of laws. We can tell you that, as an adult, depending on your past record, if there is one, you may be facing time in jail or prison, a fine, restitution, counseling, and/or community service hours while on probation. Every state is different in how they treat criminal acts. You’ll most likely be assigned a probation officer who can explain the process to you and what to expect. Good luck.

    • Cody
      Sun, 01 Nov 2009 at 02:42

      my friend stole a shirt from a local store and when walking out a person from the store told him to stop. my friend denied having the shirt but the store clerk then said come with him, my friend took off running and got away. He recieved a phone call from an officer and his car was identified. he did not answer the officers phone call and just listened to the officers message telling him to come back to the store. He did not come back, nor has he heard word from the officer for over a week. He has 3 prior records including battery and possesion of paraphanlia. what should he expect?
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Since his car was identified and it’s likely the store clerk can also ID him, he can expect notice in the mail of a citation or charges filed, or maybe an officer at his door to serve him legal papers. A week isn’t very long following an incident like this depending on the size of your town and other factors. So he can’t rest easy – it would be best to face the music by returning the shirt and speaking with the storeowner and police. Good luck.

    • Jill
      Sun, 01 Nov 2009 at 09:13

      my friend got caught shoplifting at walmart in canada and she got arrested because she is 18. She has a court date but she is worring about her crimal record. Will it stay on her record for life? Will she recieve a letter in the mail saying anything about this?

      What is going to happen
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Generally it depends on the amount of the item stolen. We are not familiar with specific criminal laws in Canada and don’t want to mislead you. It would be best to speak with a lawyer, or Google “shoplifting canada” for advice and information from Canadian attorneys. Good luck.

    • Jill
      Sun, 01 Nov 2009 at 10:26

      regarding the last post: she took around $150 and i googled it but she is really worried about it staying on her record and her court date isn’t for another two months..will it stay ?

    • admin
      Mon, 02 Nov 2009 at 09:38

      Again, you need to check with local counsel about this. The laws vary from province to province as you may know. Contact a private defense attorney in your area or public defender’s office for information.

    • Kels
      Mon, 02 Nov 2009 at 03:29

      Hello, i’m 18 years old and i was in wal-mart this past weekend with a friend and she’s 15 and we got caught shoplifting and this was my first time and they let her go cause she was underage and i’m stressing out about whats gonna happen tome :( i was arrested and have to go to court and i’m very scared! can you tell me what might happen to me?
      PLEASE :(
      Judge Tom’s response:
      If this is your first offense, as you stated, relax. You’ll probably meet with a court official [probation officer]. You may be offered a diversion program depending on the value of what was taken. This would include community service hours, a fine, restitution to the victim or counseling. If diversion is offered and you agree to the terms, make sure you finish everything on time. You may be able to clear your record later on. Even if you’re placed on probation, it may be for a short time while you meet the terms ordered by the court. Good luck.

    • Jennifer
      Tue, 03 Nov 2009 at 11:16

      My friend was questioned by the lost prevention officer at work, all in all, he admit to stealing items total to no more than five dollars. After reading a few papers he sign them, however, he clearly remembers nothing about any statement that lets the lost prevention officer place this five dollar mistake on his record. So can the lost prevention do that? Plus, without providing him a copy of what he signed?

      And, now he cannot get a new job due to the five dollars.
      Thank You!
      Judge Tom’s response:
      When your friend was hired, he probably signed some paperwork that included the terms of employment. They may have covered consequences of workplace mistakes or inappropriate acts, including noting such in his employment record. Under the laws of your state, he may be entitled to a copy of his record and disciplinary action. Good luck.

    • ricky
      Tue, 03 Nov 2009 at 11:27

      I heard of a policy a Wal-Mart
      “If a person if under 18 and gets caught shoplifting under 25$ they are free to go with no involvement of the police” Is this true?
      Judge Tom’s response:
      You would have to find out from Walmart what their corporate policy is concerning shoplifters. However, a policy is usually used as a guideline and is not the law. The store managers can always take whatever action they believe is appropriate under the circumstances and normally stores will refer a shoplifting case to the police.

    • albert
      Wed, 04 Nov 2009 at 10:20

      i was caught shoplifting in toronto canada, they didnt do anything just a paper to go to court and afeter that i didnt go to court since i was by myself in that country with not family not place to live( i was staying at my friend´s place) and i decided to come to my country to get some money and go back, now i paid what the store wanted me to pay and i am planning to go back to canada, since i am resident, waht could happen to me???
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Because you missed court, the judge may have issued a warrant for your arrest. On the other hand, since you paid the store back, it’s possible that the charge has been dropped if the store decided that it was satisfied and the prosecutor asked the court to dismiss the case. It could go either way. Call the local prosecutor’s office and ask what the status of the case is – then you’ll know what you have to do. Good luck.

    • ronnie
      Wed, 04 Nov 2009 at 11:09

      Me and my friend were in kmart and we got caught stealing a 12 pack of beer, they trespassed us and let us drive away but told us to tell our parents to call him by friday(it was saturday on halloween) he said if he didnt get a call then he would send a unit from our county to our house to tell them for us. do you think he will actually send one? or just said it to scare us. please help im scared and i dont wanna get grounded, im 16 btw. thanks
      Judge Tom’s response:
      It’s hard to tell what the store owner will do. Even if the police come to your home and tell your parents, grounding is better than the consequences you’ll get if you go to court. You have many years before you’re 21, so slow down on the alcohol use and possession. Most states have increasing consequences when you’re caught including detention. Good luck.

    • MistyEyes
      Thu, 05 Nov 2009 at 11:40

      hello i live in nova scotia i was supposidly caught for shoplifting at a local bargain shop ( my 1 1/2 year old daughter had a toy i was unaware of and i left without paying, it was still in the box and not hidden so obviously i wasent trying to ‘steal’ it or i would have least taken it out of the box or hid it somewhere) anyways they called the police but i was not fined, charged etc. they took my name and address and told me i wasent allowed back in the store and i was alloweed to leave. my question is i am in the process of getting a criminal record check done for my work and i am wondering if this stupidity will shop up on it. if it will be on it then at least i can be honest with my empolyer before they receive the results so i dont look like im hiding the fact etc. i duno i dont feel i stole but obviously the store did and although the store n police didnt do anything i am scared that it will show up anywho just wondering what you think thanks
      Judge Tom’s response:
      What you did is not uncommon and most store owners understand. Since you weren’t cited or arrested, it’s doubtful whether there is any official record of the incident. And whether it was entered into the criminal justice computer system is remote. If you lean towards explaining the incident to present or future employers, feel free, but it’s unlikely that it would show up on a records check. All the best.

    • anonymous
      Fri, 06 Nov 2009 at 11:38

      ok a couple of days ago i was at ross in florida my friend from school called me to go to K-mart so i did i walk in the store and i see anothr kid from school and i asked him if he had seen my friend he said yea he is at the front so i go and i see him at the cash register buying gum and i said wats up to him and then he got his receipt from the lady and we left then as we were walkin i saw he took out some mittens and he told me to hold them as we turn the corner there was 2 cop cars and 1 of the cops came out and stopped him and in my mind i was like he probably stole stuff so i got scared i dropped the mittens and kept walking because none of the cops stopped me so im walking home later that day he called me saying that he gave the cops my number but not my adress so iwas wondering if im goin to juvy im 14 years old and i live at florida
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Unless you’re charged or cited for shoplifting or as an accessory to the crime, you probably won’t be “going to juvy.” Your friend may have given the police your number so they can verify his explanation of what happened. Good luck.

    • anonymous
      Fri, 06 Nov 2009 at 06:33

      Dear Judge Tom,

      My sister, who’s 13 years old, and I (im sixteen) got caught stealing from claires that’s worth about $5 dollars, the store asst. manager who caught us said that she’s prosecuting us. we are banned from the mall for a year, and a month had passed and we recieve nothing, but i just recently got a called from the police from the mall, and asked my parents and they are not present at the time, they did not give the info. but im assuming its about the crime my sister and i committed. it was our first time doing it, and it was very stupid. i was just wondering, what will happen to us? will it be on our permanent record? will we have to pay a fine? (we didnt pay anything when we got caught, we just returned the item and they made us sign papers).
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Any number of things may happen. First, tell your parents about the call from mall security so they can contact them and hopefully resolve this. The store could decide to follow through with charges which would mean you’d be going to court or possibly a diversion program. Diversion usually includes work hours, a fine and/or restitution. Or you could be placed on probation for a period of time. If none of this happens, you don’t have a juvenile record with the court. Stay away from the mall this next year or things will get worse. Good luck.

    • Anna
      Sun, 08 Nov 2009 at 01:12

      I am 16 (almost 17)and I got caught shoplifting two tubes of lipstick (no more thatn $20 total) at a sears in california and the LP guys took me back to their office where i returned the items. Then they called my dad who signed a form saying he knew he had to pay the civil demand (?)there was no police involved and they didn’t prosecute me..
      i feel really bad about it and i have definitely learned my lesson especially since i have never shoplifted before. It was a first time offense..
      so i was wondering if i have some sort of criminal record now.
      Also will they tell my highschool that i shoplifted and will this affect my college apps?
      And if i do pay the civil demand in full is it likely for them to still press charges later and send me to court?
      thank you so much!!
      i am so worried over this whole issue and i am scared that i have ruined my life in a matter of minutes!!!
      please help me!!
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Anna, because you were not arrested or charged in court with shoplifting, it’s unlikely that you have any criminal record. You can call the clerk of the juvenile court in your county and ask for a copy of your juvenile record to confirm that there is nothing on it. It’s also unlikely that the store will try to press any charges for two tubes of lipstick after you have paid the civil demand. Finally, colleges do not usually ask for juvenile court records and since you most likely don’t have a record anyway, this incident should not affect your college application process. We hope you learned a valuable lesson from this experience.

    • Anna
      Sun, 08 Nov 2009 at 05:31

      hi again..
      i have one more question to add..

      if i just pay the civil demand and the store doesnt press charges or anything will this whole incident pretty much go away? as in i dont have to worry about it anymore cause the whole thing will be over..

      like if i had to do a background check or something in the future this would not show up right?

      i am just really worried that this will come back to me somehow in the future and how this will affect me…i was such an idiot!!

      thank you judge tom!!!!!
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Anna: In most situations, the matter stays with the store and there’s no “criminal record.” It wouldn’t be reported to any college or university and because you haven’t been charged or convicted of a crime, there is nothing to report on job or college applications depending on how the question is phrased on the application – read it carefully and answer it honestly. Good luck.

    • jonas Gafney
      Mon, 09 Nov 2009 at 08:48

      well i was caught shoplifting cold medicine(i wasn’t going to get high off of it, my friend convinced me to do it with him). And it was a stupid action and i know this, i have another small misdemeanor but it was sapost to have been wiped clean off my record after i got off probation for it. I’m in Michigan so what is going to happen to me?
      Judge Tom’s response:
      That depends on the laws in your area, your record of offenses, especially if the first offense is still on your record, and what the prosecutor decides to do. You may be placed back on probation with additional terms. Think before you do something that you know is wrong. As your record grows, so do the penalties. Good luck.

    • Angela Kip
      Mon, 09 Nov 2009 at 02:18

      hi im 15 and i got caught shoplifting at walmart 6 months ago in woodbury MN. i went to a class and paid the fines. i was banned from all walmarts. last month i got caught again with some friends in hudson WI at walmart. the same guard that caught me in woodbury caught me in hudson. i got a tresspassing ticket and a court hearing ticket and the items ticket for $240. Whats gonna happen to me? am i too young to be put on house arrest? Am i gonna go to jail? Am i gonna be put on house arrest? Do i have to do community service.
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Dear Angela: Any of the consequences you mention are possible. What will happen depends on the laws in your area regarding shoplifting and the court’s practice. Many courts follow a practice of increasing consequences as you continue to break the law, so detention is possible. If a court officer [probation or intake officer, for example] has been assigned to you, call him or her and ask about the process and what may happen. Good luck.

    • anonymous
      Mon, 09 Nov 2009 at 09:58

      last month i got caught shoplifting at wal-mart..and it was my first time…they filled out papers, but did not take my picture..and the cop knew i learned my lesson and dropped all charges but the wal-mart security said i wasnt allowed to go to any wal-marts in the world at all anymore for as long as i live…is that true?
      and the wal-mart people ended up sending me something in the mail that said i had to pay them 100$ within 20 days, and that if i dont that they will have there client take further civil action…can they do that after saying that im just not allowed to go to wal-mart anymore and that they werent going to do anything else?…
      p.s i recommend for anyone not to steal, even if you dont have the money for it,wait till you get money…because honestly its not worth any of this…=(…i let my parents, family and myself down by doing what i did, and even if my record goes clean at 18, ill still have to live with the fact that i did something stupid like that…
      Judge Tom’s response:
      First, your advice to others at the end of your question is good. We hope you have learned something from this experience. The store does have the authority to ban you from its premises since you were caught stealing. Under the laws of the state you live, they may also be allowed to impose a civil penalty for shoplifting. You can check this by Googling your state’s name and “shoplifting” and read what the consequences are. Good luck.

    • Erika
      Mon, 09 Nov 2009 at 10:05

      I was caught shoplifting $34 of make up by an undercover cop at bartelles and was taken in the back and gave my name, address, number, and Soicial security number. I was told I was going to be sent a court date and a fine in the mail. How much will I probably have to pay and what will happen? Will this stay on my record?
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Erika, you will know alot more once you receive the letter in the mail. It should explain your rights and how to resolve this case. If you are offered diversion [fine, work hours, etc.] you may not have a record. There will likely be someone’s name and phone number in the letter if you have additional questions. Good luck.

    • Tay
      Mon, 09 Nov 2009 at 11:35

      I got caught shoplifiting from wal mart recently i know it was really stupid of me and i will NEVER do it again bt i am 19 and the guy took back into his office checked my bags adn said that this time im not gonna go to jail but he did ban me from all wal-marts nation wide adn said that the lawyers are going to send me a fine in the mail and that i have 3 weeks to pay it afte i get it or i go to jail, but when i asked about court he said i didnt have to go because i did not get arrested, btw i live in maryland and i am 19
      Judge Tom’s response:
      You got lucky this time. Under your state’s laws, this form of diversion keeps you out of court and record-free. Follow the terms of the letter. If you have any questions about what you’re asked to do, call your local public/legal defender’s office or legal aid. Good luck.

    • Brittany
      Tue, 10 Nov 2009 at 09:22

      HELLO. I HAVE A QUESTION. I HA JUST HAD A COURT CASE WHERE I HAVE TO DO DIVERSION PROGRAM AND COMMUNITY SERVICE BUT I CANT GET ARRESTED AGAIN WITHIN THE NEXT YEAR. I JUST ARRESTED TONIGHT BECAUSE I WAS WITH SOMEONE WHO STOLE $30 WORTH OF BABY FORMULA. NOW I HAD TO GO TO THE POLICE DEPARTMENT AND EVERYTHING. I HAVE COURT NEXT WEEK. WHAT DO YOU THINK THEY WILL TELL ME? WOULD I BE ABLE TO JUST PAY THE $30 FINE?
      Judge Tom’s response:
      It is entirely up to the court and the diversion officer that you worked with on the first offense. If you violated the terms of diversion, you can expect the consequences to be greater. If you are charged with a new offense and either admit or are found guilty of it, you may receive probation. Good luck.

    • anonymous
      Wed, 11 Nov 2009 at 06:15

      I am a visitor from other country, and I was caught for shoplifting. Police didn’t come, just security there took my ID and I payed money and filled out some papers,I was banned from the store, he took my picture and told me that he needed it in case if I come back, so then they arrest me. Do I have any record now?
      Judge Tom’s response:
      From what you’ve stated, the only “record” you have is with the store. The store owner may choose to report this incident that can result in formal charges. Be sure not to return to the store and aggravate the situation. Good luck.

    • Jamie Keller
      Wed, 11 Nov 2009 at 11:37

      i was caught shoplifting and have to go to court in a few days. that day i shoplifted from a few stores. i shoplifted earlier from this one store and got away with it. then i went to some other stores in the mall. i went back to the first store and tried to shoplift more but got caught as i was leaving. they took the stuff i stole from the day and made me take out what i stole when i got caught. i took out the stuff from the second time, but not the first. the cops and store security looked in the bag but didnt notice the other stuff because it was all in bags from other stores names. the amount i was charged with is 175 dollars. i was arrested and everything, but the cops said i wont be jailed, just fined, community service, and/or a class, and in a certain time, it can be expunged. we got a lawyer that we know well but i havent told him or my parents the whole story. is it best to just keep quiet and hope the cops either gave it back or the store just decided to let it go, or will they charge me for that too. its been about 3 days since, and i havent heard anything about it. i really learned my lesson, and i just want this all to be over. i understand that i plead not guilty and then go to a trial where we work out what i must do.
      im 17, female, and probably the least likely person to ever do this. ive gone to catholic school my whole life and i work in a church. im ashamed, embarrassed, and really want this to be over with. please help.
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Jamie – based on what you’ve stated, we think you know the answer and the right thing to do. We cannot provide you legal advice about how to proceed, but you should level with your lawyer and listen to his or her advice. Good luck.

    • Jamie Keller
      Wed, 11 Nov 2009 at 12:02

      can you tell me if the store knows that stuff is mine. or do they deal with so many cases a day that they dont notice. do the cops just give it back. or is the store security that returns the items to the other stores. if i was already charged with 170, can they look back and see that i did it twice and charge me for the other items even if its after the fact. would they notify me or would they save it for court. do they usually go through camera footage to see what exactly happened or do they just follow the police report
      Judge Tom’s response:
      The answers to all of your questions, Jamie, are based on local law and practice. You need to run these by your lawyer.

    • Kristen Cobra
      Wed, 11 Nov 2009 at 06:23

      hello i was recently accused of shoplifting and it is my first offense. the cops gave me the charges and court date. however, i too had other stolen stuff confiscated that was not seen by the store that caught me, but the cops said they would give the bag of items back to the store to put back. my question is… can new charges be brought up in court that i was not aware of until i went to court, or would i have to be notified about all charges before going to court, so that i may be able to get the proper lawyer and be prepared for what i will encounter.

    • Kristen Cobra
      Wed, 11 Nov 2009 at 06:25

      im not sure if i was descriptive enough. the store did not realize i had more stolen goods in my possession from their store.. but when the cops bring the bag back, i am sure they will realize. is it required to notify me before i appear in court or are they allowed to simply not say anything about it until court. i am from long island, NY.
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Due process of law requires that you be given notice of all charges filed against you and a right to be heard. So, if there are additional charges filed out of this shoplifting incident, you’ll be advised before you go to court or at that time and have a chance to discuss the situation with your lawyer. Good luck.

    • Megan
      Fri, 13 Nov 2009 at 12:18

      Hi Tom,
      I just got caught shoplifting. It was very stupid of me, but what’s done is done. The store was H&M and the LP person told me I had to pay a fine to the store, around $200 to $300 and I am banned from all H&Ms worldwide. He got my information and a picture and everything. It’s such a waste because I actually like that store. The LP person told me that it is up to the police officer to decide what happens to me and usually, for first time offenders, they just get off with a warning. I was feeling better, and the LP person acknowledged the fact that I do not seem like the type to shoplift, and he was right. I was dared and was too scared of the consequences if I didn’t obliged. It didn’t occur to me that shoplifting is a greater offense. I was stupid.

      So, the police officer came and he asked me questions and I thought it was going rather well until he told me that he will give me a call tomorrow whether I will have to go to court. I gave him my cellphone number as I do not want my parents to know what had happened just yet. I am 19. He didn’t get any information from me, but he did get information from the LP person.

      I am terrified because I still want to go to a reputable school and earn a degree and have a job. I am so scared this will go on my permanent record and I won’t be able to pursue my dreams. What will happen with me in this case?
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Even though you’re an adult, if charges are filed, they’ll most likely be for either a petty offense or a misdemeanor depending on your state’s laws. Most states have a process to obtain a clean record after all court proceedings are done and full compliance with court orders are completed [work hours, counseling, a class, restitution, etc.] You may not hear anything further about this and, if so, consider it a valuable lesson. Good luck.

    • Megan
      Fri, 13 Nov 2009 at 09:12

      Hi again.

      Thank you for your response and yes, I have learned my lesson. I will never ever do anything that can and will jeopardize my future.

      But another question, the officer told me he would give me a call today, which is the day after the incident. I told him I was going to be working until 5:00 pm and he said he would give me a call after 5. It is more than 2 hours past 5:00 and he hasn’t called yet and I was wondering if I should give him a call back. I don’t know if giving him a call would make my situation worse.
      Judge Tom’s response:
      It may or may not. If he said he’d call, wait for him to do so.

    • Pauline
      Fri, 13 Nov 2009 at 11:29

      I got caught shoplifting, first offense, and the LP guy was writing down my police case file number. I am banned from the store and I have to pay a fine to the store. He said it is up to the police if I will need to go to court and that it is separate from what the store is charging me. The officer didn’t give me much information but she did give me her business card with my case file number and she said she’ll contact me. The number wasn’t the same as the one that LP guy wrote down. What does this mean?
      Judge Tom’s response:
      A police report usually has one number, a DR or Departmental Report number. That’s more than likely what the officer gave you. The number that the store’s Loss Prevention person wrote down was probably the store’s own number to record the incident and it’s only for internal use with the store. Good luck.

    • george
      Sat, 14 Nov 2009 at 09:21

      hola senor tom. so i was at b&n and bought a boxed set series rhere waere 6 of em and the boxed set had only 4. so then i impulsively and stupidly took them too thinking to myself i shp here so much and spend an average of at least 200 a month it should be a free gift. then at target i told my mom bout these too books i wanted put em in the kart left her and wen i got home asked her did she pay and she said no i told u to put it back in the store AND FLIPPED. i feel really bad but got wat iwanted 2 advice?
      Judge Tom’s response:
      George, we think you know what the right thing to do is – either return to the store and pay for the item taken, or return the item and explain what happened. Bad deeds have a way of coming back to you. Good luck.

    • jess
      Sat, 14 Nov 2009 at 07:35

      Hey, I was just caught at kmart shoplifting about $18 worth of food. The cops weren’t called and i was cooperative, they had me fill out some paperwork and they have my ss# and the things i had to sign said that they could sue, but the lp guy said they probably wouldn’t since it wasn’t a whole lot of stuff and i was being cooperative. am i going to get a letter soon saying that i have to pay a fine? they never mentioned anything about a monetary penalty… and will this go on my record in some way since they have my SS#?
      Judge Tom’s response:
      You’ll have a “record” with the store, so if they told you not to return, don’t. You may hear from the store requesting a civil fine [allowed in many states] which may be around $100 to $200. This is different from a criminal charge for the offense. Unless you’re formally charged and have to go to court, you shouldn’t have a juvenile record with the court. Good luck.

    • Jason
      Mon, 16 Nov 2009 at 02:41

      Hey, I was just caught stealing a game from wal-mart. The game was only 10 dollars, and I had no prior intent to go in and take it. The only reason i took it was because i saw it, and really wanted to play it, but did not have enough money on me to buy it, and so i just slipped it into my pocket. I’m 20 years old, and this is my first offense ever. What is going to happen to me most likely?
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Hi Jason. Most likely, you won’t hear anything further. If you hear from the court, you may be offered diversion which means you’ll do some community service hours, pay a fine, take a class and/or pay restitution. Stay away from the store for as long as they told you to, otherwise you could be cited for trespass if you return. Good luck.

    • Jason
      Mon, 16 Nov 2009 at 02:45

      Oh, also, all that happened when i was caught was that i went in and filled out a sheet explaining what i did. The wal-mart people took my information (social security number, name, address, etc) and then gave me a lecture. then They took my picture and told me never to come in again. What am I looking at as my punishment? again, this is my first offense ever and i am 20 years old. See Jason’s first message for Response.

    • Missy
      Thu, 19 Nov 2009 at 01:15

      Judge Tom,

      Hi im 24 in CA. I was caught 3 days ago in target w a shopping cart full of stuff trying to leave the store, LP stopped me took the cart and didnt ask for any info and let me leave the store (i was with my baby). i have done this a bunch of times before at this same store. do you think they will come after me by pulling up my license plate or off the cameras? what should i do to prepear myself for the worst? i am not going to enter target anymore and i def learned my lesson and am getting help w my addiction. any advice? i cannot sleep at night im
      worried sick!
      Dear Missy: With a “shopping cart” full of items, you may receive a notice in the mail about consequences that may include a fine to the store, or notice to appear in court. If you’re charged with shoplifting you can expect a fine, restitution, counseling, work hours or probation. Depending on the total value of the items, it could either be a misdemeanor or felony. Get some help before this gets out of hand and you’re facing a lengthy sentence. Good luck.

    • Red
      Sat, 21 Nov 2009 at 09:37

      When I was 17, i got caught shoplifting, something small under $10. There was no police involved, but they called my father to come pick me up from the store. they wrote down some of my info and my state ID #. How long will this stay on my record? Will the employers be able to see it if they do a background check? The incident happened over 3 years ago and I was never caught or arrested for anything else. I’ve been trying to get a city job and they deffinately do background checks.. I didn’t get the job I want and I’m afraid it is because of
      something stupid that i did when i was younger
      Dear Red: The chances of there being a formal “record” of this incident are slim. If you didn’t go to court, participate in a diversion program, or have any contact with the police, the only evidence of this may be in the store’s possession. It shouldn’t keep you from future pursuits. Good luck.

    • Trey
      Sat, 21 Nov 2009 at 05:13

      When i was 18, i got caught shoplifting an item at a store. the item was less then 30 dollars and i live in california. i am wondering when i go to court, and this is my first misdemeanor and crime, what punishment would i face?
      Dear Trey: If, as you said, this is your first offense, you’re likely looking at a fine, restitution to the store, community service hours, a class about theft and the law, and possibly counseling. It’s up to your probation officer and the judge. Good luck.

    • Trey
      Sat, 21 Nov 2009 at 05:15

      P.s. When i go to court, it is necessary for me to get my own attorney?
      Trey: It’s up to you to either accept the appointment of a public defender, if you’re financially unable to hire your own lawyer, or get your own. The process and your options will be explained to you at your first appearance in court.

    • Daniel
      Sat, 21 Nov 2009 at 05:51

      I’m 18 i just got caught shoplifting. I was brought in to an office no police were called and I was told a letter will be sent to me in the mail from the company from which i stole the item headquaters in which would be a fine. also i signed a form that the woman told me stated that it means I cannot go onto the property of the store for a year. The police were not called. What all is going to happen? this isn’t going to be put on a criminal record correct?
      Dear Daniel: If the police were not involved and you’re not formally charged with shoplifting, you won’t have a criminal record. It sounds like the store is handling it themselves, which is their decision. Follow the directions in the letter you receive that may include a fine of several hundred dollars, and the trespass notice to stay away for a year. That’s a pretty common consequence. Next time, pay or save the money until you can buy it. Good luck.

    • janeet delacruz
      Sat, 21 Nov 2009 at 09:18

      Heey i jusst got caught shop lifting =\ i refreet it and wat i took was about 80 dollars this was at jcpeenny and i dnt know what’s gonna happen I’m scared they hand cuffed me took me down to the polica and asked me for my name took pictures of me I’m really scared what do yoou think is gonna happen ? =(
      Dear Janeet: If you end up in court, you may be sentenced to pay a fine, restitution to the victim, complete community service hours, attend counseling or a class. It depends on your history, the amount taken, and your attitude. You may also be put on probation for a period of time. Good luck.

    • JR
      Sat, 21 Nov 2009 at 09:54

      I (age 23) was Caught shoplifting in florida worth 3 dollars. a cop was called and present but they did not inform me i was arrested and i did not have to sign anything. i then paid for the merchandise and they gave me a verbal trespassing warning and i was free to leave. my boyfriend was also with me and they took his information but he also did not sign anything or was informed that he was arrested. will anything else happen now? and will my boyfriend be charged with anything?
      thank you for your advice.
      Dear JR: It sounds like this is the end of it, unless either of you return to the store. Then trespass charges could be filed against you. A shoplifting charge could be filed anytime before the statute of limitations runs [usually a year or two] but usually in cases of a first offense and little value that’s been repaid, you may not hear anything further. But every state handles these cases differently. Good Luck.

    • chrissy
      Sun, 22 Nov 2009 at 01:07

      I just got caught shoplifting about 9 dollars worth of merchandise. It was the first time and they took me in a room, got my info, like my ss#, address, phone number, but didn;t call the cops. They had me sign a notice for a choicepoint thing, which I’m not exactly sure what it is, but didn’t say anything or give me anything about civil demand. Does this mean I don’t have to pay, or will I just get something in the mail. Also, will this prevent me from getting jobs in the future?
      Dear Chrissy: You may get something in the mail from the store with directions in how to avoid prosecution. They will likely fine you a certain amount and maybe require some community service hours. Whatever they require, met the deadline to avoid further action. If this is diversion, you won’t have a criminal record. Good luck.

    • LAYLA
      Mon, 23 Nov 2009 at 09:30

      IF A 15 YEAR WAS WITH PARENT AND THE MINOR GOT CAUGHT SHOPLIFTING. PARENT OFFERED TO PAY FOR ITEMS BUT SECURITY JUST TOOK PARENT AND CHILD TO BACK AND FILLED OUT A REPORT. THEY TOOK PARENTS ID AND JUS CHILDS NAME AND ADRESS. POLICE WERE NOT CALLED N NO PICTURE TAKEN. NO SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER TAKEN. SECURITY WARNED CHILD NEXT TIME WILL BE ARRESTED. IS THIS THE END OF THIS OR WILL THEY FURTHER PURSUE
      Dear Layla: It is the store’s decision whether to pursue prosecution for the shoplifting. It sounds like it may end with the warning given and possibly a letter with a demand to pay a civil fine. If that’s the case, paying it on time should end this incident. Good luck.

    • pat
      Mon, 23 Nov 2009 at 06:05

      The other day I was caught stealing two 30 packs of beer from the supermarket, a total of $34.00. Stupid, I know. Upon leaving the store I was approached by a surveillance person, who asked me for a receipt, I told him I didn’t have one, and then ran away. A police officer eventually found me across the street, handcuffed me, brought me back to the supermarket where the surveillance person did some paperwork, and then I was taken to the police station where I gave them all my information, fingerprints, and picture taken. I’m 19 and I live in New York. What should I expect? Thanks
      Dear Pat: Since you’re an adult, but under age for alcohol, you could expect a citation for shoplifting or theft, and possession of alcohol. You might get a notice by mail of a court date and any charges filed against you. Don’t miss court or a warrant for your arrest could be issued. If you find yourself in court, your rights and possible consequences will be explained to you. It may include probation, a fine, restitution, community service hours, and counseling. Good luck.

    • pat
      Mon, 23 Nov 2009 at 08:07

      Thank you very much. My court date is tomorrow (I scheduled it while ate the police station) is there anything i can do to prepare myself for it? I’m at school and I cant afford a lawyer, should I worry about that? Lastly, according to what I’ve read so far online, one of my options might be diversion… what exactly is that and would I qualify for it? Thanks again.
      Dear Pat: If this is your first offense, you may qualify for diversion. That means if you agree to complete some work hours, counseling, pay a fine, etc. the matter will conclude with no criminal record or court proceedings. You may meet with a court officer who will explain this to you. You may be asked about finances and be offered a public defender if charges are filed. All the best.

    • Matt
      Wed, 25 Nov 2009 at 07:21

      I got caught by whole foods loss prevention, Cypress Security, and they are charging me a civil demand of 500 dollars, for a 4 dollar item. I did not have to go through police, what should i do? Can they really charge me that?
      Dear Matt: Under the laws of your state, this amount may be a legal civil remedy for shoplifting. Google the name of your state and “shoplifting civil demand” and see what you find out. The store may choose to take this route rather than refer you for prosecution. Pay the amount by the deadline given and the matter should be closed. Good luck.

      The above is information only, not legal advice.

    • Michelle
      Thu, 26 Nov 2009 at 02:58

      I was caught stealing when I was 16. The police were called and the store told me that my parents would be fined and that they weren’t going to press charges. For college applications, I’m asked,”Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor, felony, or other crime?” How do I respond to this?
      Dear Michelle: If you were only fined by the store and never went to court, you haven’t been convicted of anything and you don’t have a record. So you can answer no unless you know otherwise. Read all questions on college and job applications very closely. Good luck.

    • corrinne
      Fri, 27 Nov 2009 at 09:24

      Ok so me and my friend were caught shoplifting for the first time at a belks in north carolina. We are only 14. The cops got our names, and address’s, etc. they also gave us a court date. we are really scared of whats gonna happen. the merchandise we took was about 200$ added up together. we dont know whats gonna happen. so i was wondering what the judge could do to us? and will our high school be told?
      Dear Corrinne: Since this is your first offense, you’ll probably meet with a court officer and everything will be explained to you. You may be offered diversion which means if you complete some work hours, pay a fine, pay restitution to the store, or attend a class, the matter will be closed. Or you may be placed on probation with similar terms. When you turn 18, apply to the court for a clear record. Good luck.
      [This is information only, not legal advice.]

    • maria
      Sat, 28 Nov 2009 at 10:13

      So on black friday me(18) and 3 (17,17,15) other girls got caught shoplifting @ a georgia walmart for clerance cameras which totaled to 214.00.. The store records said 214 on each of our papers and 65.00 on the police papers.. He gave us each a citation that said we had court in jan. This is my first offense. What will they ask me in court? Will we have to tell a story? And will this stay on my record? I heard that in ga your 1st offense can be expunged…
      Dear Maria: First, when you go to court, the process will be explained to you. You’ll meet with a court officer and may be offered diversion. That means you can choose to complete work hours, attend counseling and/or a class, pay a fine and/or restitution to the store. Once you complete the terms, the matter is closed with no record. If you plead guilty, your sentence may include the same as above and after a certain period you can apply to the court for a clear record. Colleges don’t usually ask for juvenile records or records of minor offenses (traffic, etc). On your college application, read the question carefully and answer truthfully – if you complete diversion, you weren’t convicted of a crime. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • maria
      Sat, 28 Nov 2009 at 10:17

      Cont… the yellow citation paper said misdemonon.. Do jobs and colleges care about misdemoners? And is that on my record at this very moment? Or until court?
      See answer above to Maria’s first question. Thanks for writing.]

    • Amy
      Sat, 28 Nov 2009 at 07:35

      Hi, my friend and I who are both 18 have just gotten caught shoplifting at TJ MAXX in Ohio. they totalled the things she had stolen to about 34 dollars, and mine to 22. We were taken down to the police station wherewe were finger printed and photographed. I know this is on my permanent record, so I was wondering if there were and way to get this exponged? Also, while they were getting our information, they asked for my “emergency contact” info, so not thinking, I said my mother and her phone number. They never asked my friend for this info.. she has been 18 for 8 months, and I have for four. Do you think even though I am 18 they will call my mom? And what do you think will happen in court? We payed nothing the day it happened and got out on a signature bond. We have court the 8th of Dec.
      Thanks!
      -Amy.
      Dear Amy: Since this is your first time, you may be offered a diversion program instead of formal prosecution. This means, if you agree, you’ll have to either pay a fine and restitution to the victim, complete work hours, a class and maybe counseling. You avoid a record by completing diversion. Or if you plead guilty, you may receive the same consequences and can ask in a year or so for your record to be expunged. Every state has different rules about destruction of records and clearing your name. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Eric Moore
      Sat, 28 Nov 2009 at 09:10

      Judge Tom, in August of 2009 ( 4 months from my birthday on december 8, making me 18), I got caught shoplifting from a local walmart in Virginia. I took an I.D card holder and a tie, and the total came up to 10 dollars. Since I am 17, cooperated, and the total of what I took was under 25,and it was my 1st ever offense, the lady let me off easy. She said I don’t have to go to court, pay a fine, or anything. No police were involved or nothing. All she did was jot down my information, and called my mom to pick me up. She said this isn’t going to be on my record, but I am in the walmart system, so if i caught doing the same act within a year. I will be arrested and put in jail and etc. My question is, how long will i be in the walmart system?
      will it be for a year? and am I still allowed to shop there?
      Dear Eric: This is a common response to first time shoplifters. Your name and info could be in the store’s system for some time, at least a year. Unless you were told at the time you got caught to stay out of the store, you could probably return. Stores often trespass a shoplifter for a period of time and/or assess a civil demand [fee] which you’d be notified of by mail. We’d recommend staying away from the store for awhile – once you’re 18 in December, you can be prosecuted as an adult with adult consequences. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • amanda
      Sun, 29 Nov 2009 at 02:36

      Thank you for taking the time to read this.
      i am 15 years old and i was caught shop lifting. Really dumb descion I know. But anyway I have to go to court and i was wondering if i’m going to have to tell a story or get up on the stand on something? And this was the first time i’ve ever done this. My mother has to pay a fine, so will i have any other punishment? Thank you so very much again.
      Dear Amanda: When you go to court, you’ll probably meet with a court [probation] officer who will explain the process to you. Since this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion which means if you complete work hours, pay the store restitution, attend a class or counseling, etc the case will be closed and you won’t have a record. If you plead not guilty it will be set for trial before a judge. If found guilty, you may be placed on probation with the same terms listed above and you’ll have a juvenile record. Good luck.
      [This is information only, not legal advice.]

    • Chris
      Sun, 29 Nov 2009 at 08:24

      Hello people, I was caught last monday evening shoplifting, very dumb of me, it was’nt a lot just a few dollars worth of crap, but I’ll cut to the chase, Lost Prevention stopped me just before I walked outside with it and asked me to follow him to his office so I agreed, ok long story short the police were not called my picture was not taken no finger prints non of that stuff, the only thing the LP guy asked for was my Driver’s License and my phone number and asked me a few basic questions, when he got done he told me to never return to the store or I would be arressted so I agreed to never return, he also gave me a three page paper, two of the papers had Pennsylvania’s laws and what not, and the first page says That I would be getting something in the mail, what will I get in the mail? how long will it be till I get it? I am 23 live in PA, I have never done this nor do I know what will happen, Please Help, Answers Please!!
      Dear Chris: What you might receive in the mail is a “civil demand” which is a fine that the store may collect in shoplifting cases. Usually around a few hundred dollars if assessed – pay it on time and this incident will be over. Also stay out of the store or they can press trespassing charges against you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Melody
      Sun, 29 Nov 2009 at 10:24

      what are some good place to do community service???
      Dear Melody: Many places that use volunteers allow you to complete community service hours for school credit or for the court or diversion program. Animal shelters, homeless meal kitchens, libraries, parks, Boys and Girls Clubs, etc are good places to check. You can also call your local juvenile court or probation office and ask for a list of places to do community service. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Vincent
      Mon, 30 Nov 2009 at 07:37

      I live in texas, i was in a walmart sunday nov. 29. I was in the autoparts section and had grabbed a box of licence plate bolts woth around $3. I continued browsing and croutched to look at another item that was close to the floor. I put the bolts in my hoodie pocket so i wouldnt forget them when i got up. After a fer minutes of looking. I put it back got up and cotinued browsing the store for thing i might want for christmas. I had been in there a while and was leaving when i realized i had the bolts still in the hoodie. Before i had the chance to go back to pay for them the LP lady rushed to me and accused me of shoplifting. I told her i knew of the item she meant, haded it to her and told her i didnt mean to take them. She took me to a room, asked me questions, and asked for my ID. Im 17 and considered an adult. She scanned my ID and took my info. She told me they were not going to call police and that i will be getting a letter in the mail. Then she sent me on my way. As i was in there i told her of a couple who actually were shoplifting. She listened but still didnt believe me when i told her i didnt inted to take the item.
      Dear Vincent: If the Loss Prevention lady accepts your explanation of what happened, you may not hear anything further. They have your contact information, so it may be wise to stay away from the store for awhile. Or you may get a letter from the store requiring payment of a civil demand [fine]. If you pay it, the matter will be closed. You could decide to fight it and then you can explain what happened to a judge who will decide the consequences. Talk this over with your parents in deciding what to do. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • scott
      Mon, 30 Nov 2009 at 09:42

      dear judge tom.

      I shoplifted about a week ago and got caought taking a $20 video game in kmart, took it out of the box and put it in my pocket. they called the cops and i got busted before i even walked out of the door. its my first offance im 14 y.o., and live in lake county florida, and i make good grades and am in njrotc. what will my charges be, will they put it in my reccords, and will i get kicked out of rotc.

      please help im nervous that it will affect my future carear in the millatry
      scott
      Dear Scott: Since it’s your first offense, you may not be prosecuted for shoplifting. If you weren’t given a citation or told to appear in court, this may be handled by the store. You may get a letter in the mail from the store requiring payment of a civil fine. Pay it on time and the matter may be closed. If you go to court you’ll likely receive work hours, a fine, counseling, a class, or restitution to the store. You may not have a juvenile record so it shouldn’t affect your ROTC or military plans unless you do it again. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Taylor S.
      Wed, 02 Dec 2009 at 10:47

      I am 13 and i live in wisconsin. me and my friend stole $2 eyeliner from Shopko and we got regular police fines, and shopko is sueing us for $150+ can they do that? will this be on my record for getting a job? is there a way i can get out of paying this $150+ fine?
      Dear Taylor: Yes, the store can fine you and $100 to $200 is common around the country. If you pay on time and no further action is taken, you won’t have a juvenile record. If it happens again, you may be prosecuted and end up on probation or in detention. Stay away from the store, especially if you were told not to come back. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • amanda
      Thu, 03 Dec 2009 at 07:37

      THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE ADVICE YOUR GIVING EVERYONE YOU ARE A VERY HELPFUL PERSON! I know I will sleep better tonight knowing i will not have a record and I know many others are releived at what you have told them I personally think that you are a great help to people that do not know whats gonna happen when they go to court or anything to do with the matter! Thank you so much for the help! -Amanda :)

    • Corrinne
      Thu, 03 Dec 2009 at 07:38

      THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE ADVICE YOUR GIVING EVERYONE YOU ARE A VERY HELPFUL PERSON! I know I will sleep better tonight knowing i will not have a record and I know many others are releived at what you have told them I personally think that you are a great help to people that do not know whats gonna happen when they go to court or anything to do with the matter! Thank you so much for the help! -Corrinne :)

    • Chris
      Thu, 03 Dec 2009 at 10:14

      Dear Chris: What you might receive in the mail is a “civil demand” which is a fine that the store may collect in shoplifting cases. Usually around a few hundred dollars if assessed – pay it on time and this incident will be over. Also stay out of the store or they can press trespassing charges against you. Good luck.

      thanks for the comment………..what do you mean by if assessed….how long does it usually take for this civil demand to come in the mail? and why a few hundred dollar fine for somthing that wasnt even over 3 to 5 dollars?? will they press charges or any thing like that or would it really like for real be done and over with if I were to pay this civil demand if I was to get one??
      Dear Chris. Stores usually send out their demand letters for payment of a civil fine within a month of the incident. The laws of your state authorize them to fine someone caught shoplifting and the amounts vary from state to state. You could also be prosecuted for the same offense – these are civil and criminal remedies for the crime. Usually both don’t take place, but it’s possible. Read the papers you were given carefully and follow the instructions about paying the fine. If it’s not included, then you’ll receive additional instructions in the mail.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Eva
      Sat, 05 Dec 2009 at 02:12

      Hello Judge Tom. I am 16 and was caught shoplifting today($600 worth of things)in one of the Sears stores in California. But I seem to have problem recalling what happened. When the police officer asked me, I was so blanked out. Even now, I still can’t remember what happened. How it started, how it went..all that problems. I realized I was in trouble when I walked out with a bag full of stolen merchandises and was stopped. What’s going to happen to me?Are the police going to inform my school, my teachers about this? Is my school going to force me out? Are they going to kick me out? What is going to happen to me? Fines? Jail?
      Thank you so much for answering my questions.
      Dear Eva: If the store and the prosecutor decide to charge you with shoplifting, you’ll receive notice in the mail of your court date. Don’t miss it. You’ll meet with a court/probation officer and the process will be explained to you. If you’re guilty, the court may sentence you to probation, a fine, community work hours, a class or counseling, or detention if the judge thinks it’s appropriate. You might be eligible for diversion if this is your first offense. Ask the probation officer about that. The police don’t normally notify schools about off-campus incidents, unless it endangers the school in any way. Stay away from the store. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • alexis
      Sat, 05 Dec 2009 at 04:23

      We live in California and My son and his friend got caught shoplifting at Macy’s worth 635.00 for him and 450.00 for her . He has a cutter since they plan this to give a gift to a friend the officer said he can be charge for felony because they plan this but is their 1st offense both very good kind I don’t know what will happen.
      Dear Alexis: As minors and their first offense, they will meet with a court officer and the process will be explained to them. Shoplifting may be a felony depending on the value of the items taken. They are looking at possible probation or a diversion program that would include restitution to the store, work hours, a fine, class, counseling or even detention if the court decides it’s appropriate. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Alli
      Sat, 05 Dec 2009 at 10:30

      Hi so yesterday my friends and i shoplifted from a few stores but never got caught but and im scared that i am on survellience cameras at one store the clerk kept eyeing me the whole entire time at another store even when my friends and i finished putting things in our pocket and were just playing around smelling perfume and giving each other makeovers. He never once approched me but im soo scared that the police will call my parents or show up at my door. I think i just need reasurance that the police wont show up because they dont have any information on who i am. I know what i did was completly wrong and i will never ever do anything stupid and reckless like this again because i am so scared.
      Dear Alli: You should be scared since you broke the law. However, if you weren’t stopped and neither the store or police know your name, address, etc. you may not hear anything about this. You’re on tape now, so if you return to the store and shoplift again, things will be different. Talk this over with your parents and how remorseful you are about what you did. The truth wins out in the end and you’ll feel better about yourself. They might want you to go back to the store and apologize which would be the right thing to do. We hope, Alli, you’ve learned from this. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Ashley
      Sun, 06 Dec 2009 at 02:54

      hi judge.
      im 18, i was caught stealing from the walmart around the corner from my house. they made me sign papers. took a picture of me. i was arrested for the first time ever in my life. i disappointed my family and i disappointed myself i havent even looked in the mirror since. im so embrassed. my mom was so angry and disappointed in me. i feel really bad about stealing from walmart and it will never happen again. iwill never a day in life ever steal again. i didnt like being in jail with murders. my crime as a misdemeanor it came out too $24.00. i got a ticket the week before for loitering is that a criminal act. there wasnt a sign saying we couldnt be there and we wasnt warned to leave. i go to court jan 2 2010 for loitering. then i go to court feb 25, 2010 for the shoplifting. do still qualify to plea first offense since i got a loitering ticket? how do i go about getting the first offense diversion? and can i get this off my record once im done with the first offense? i have no juvenile record. im in college will this affect my student money, because i dont have a job? and i planned on payin my fees with that. i live in GA. i really scared. i dont want to ever go back to that place ever.
      Dear Ashley: If there is a phone number for the court on your papers, call and ask if you can schedule the hearings for the same time for both tickets. Since these are your first offenses, and the loitering being minor, you may be offered diversion. If so, complete whatever the agreement is [work hours, a fine, a class, etc.] and then both will be resolved. Depending on the laws in Georgia, you may not have a “record” following diversion, or you can apply to have it cleared after a period of time. Either way, they shouldn’t affect your college plans or future job applications. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Amanda
      Sun, 06 Dec 2009 at 09:02

      hi. yesterday i got caught shoplifting at target. im 16 and live in california. it was my first time stealing and i really regret doing it. i took little cosmetics, about $30 dollars worth. they put me into a room and i returned everything and answered all questions honestly. since i was cooperating, they released me to my mother. they didnt call the police. i didnt have to pay any fine or go to court. they just got my name address school licesnse plate number, and other information. im still allowed to go to target, but they sent my picture to other targets so if i ever were to go into one, they would watch me. im really scared that this incident is gonna come back to haunt me. how long will my picture be in target? is this on my permanent record? if so, for how long? will my school be notified of this? will it come up when i apply for college next year and future job applications? please help, im really freaking out, i wish i had never done it.
      Dear Amanda: It sounds like you’ve learned a good lesson. You’ll probably not hear anything further about this incident unless you do it again. The store will keep their record on you, but it’s not likely to go any further. There shouldn’t be a formal charge since the police weren’t involved and you don’t have a juvenile court record. It shouldn’t affect any college or job applications, so count yourself lucky this time.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • giovanna
      Sun, 06 Dec 2009 at 10:23

      hi, i got caught shoplifting 11 months ago at a Sears. I went through a diversion program so my misdemeanor could be expunged. I learned my lesson. Trust me!! But today at Macy’s when I was in the fitting room I took in a lot of items and laid them down on top of my purse which was open because I had just taken my phone out. A small flimsy shirt got in there and I did not even notice because I was too busy talking on the phone. When I was leaving an LP office stopped me and told me to give them back their shirt. I repeated that I had not taken anything to which he grabbed my hand and said that he would slam me on the floor if i did not cooperate. When I saw the shirt I was dumbfounded. The cops came and gave me a ticket for a court date. I paid a fine to Macy’s today and the Loss Prevention officer told me that the video tape would not be used unless my lawyer subpoenaed it. I plan on getting a lawyer. Is there any advice you could give me? I am a college student in Florida. What are my chances of beating this??
      Dear Giovanna: As far as “beating this” charge, you’ll need to discuss that with your lawyer since you plan to get one. We assume you’re 18 or older since you’re in college, so you’ll be treated as an adult and not a juvenile. Explain the circumstances to your lawyer and maybe you’ll be able to complete another diversion program or be dealt with leniently if this is your first offense as an adult. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Ashley
      Mon, 07 Dec 2009 at 09:56

      do i call the state court or the recorders? one of my court dates is recorders and my second court date is at state do i call both of them?
      Dear Ashley: Since you’re in two different courts, you need to call them both. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Barbara
      Mon, 07 Dec 2009 at 10:01

      hi, my brother and I (both adult) were caught shoplifting at Canadian Tire. It was a stupid stupid mistake in our behalf. I dont know what we both were thinking and now we both regret it :( .
      Long story short police was called and we both got the court date.
      It is our first time and we both have a clean record.
      What are the consequences. Do we need a lawyer? Is there going to be a criminal record?
      Dear Barbara: The charges and consequences you are facing depend on the laws of the province you live in. In the U.S., shoplifting charges can be filed either as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the amount that was stolen and whether it is a person’s first offense. You should be notified of your charges and whether counsel will be appointed to represent you at your first court date. To find out more, try googling “shoplifting” and the name of your province. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • lily
      Mon, 07 Dec 2009 at 02:43

      I got a citation for misdeaminor and larceny. Once my court date arrived, i went to the clerk office, and they couldn’t find my records anywhere. so I left my citation with the clerk. she said she will talk to the police officer who wrote my citation. but when i called her back she said the police officer had to look back in his records. So i’m guessing he never filed my charges, and it’s been 2 months since my accident. My friends been in a similar situation, he was charged with a theft felony, but the police who was suppose to file his case never did, and when his court date came, the police officer retired, so the judge or the DA dismissed his case. He came out with a clean record and didn’t have to pay any fee. So i’m very confused, What could this mean? and is this a good or bad thing to happen?
      Dear Lily: You may have gotten lucky if either the officer did not file his paperwork/report or the prosecutor’s office declined prosecution. However, this is something you should not count on as normally police reports are submitted and charges are filed. Every state has a “statute of limitations” for filing misdemeanor charges, which means that the officer still may have several months to file the incident report. Make sure the court has your correct address and contact information because if charges are filed and a court date is set, you need to be sure to appear in court. If charges end up not being filed, we hope you learned a valuable lesson from this incident. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • John
      Mon, 07 Dec 2009 at 06:21

      Dear Judge Tom,

      I worked at Target in Florida and got caught shoplifting a coffee maker that cost a little over $100. I couldn’t afford it, and wanted to give my girlfriend a nice gift for her birthday, so I turned to something that I would not normally do: petty theft.

      I am 23 and have never been convicted or even associated with any crimes before. My question is: how much of a fine should I be expecting and what consequences am I looking at on my permanent record?

      Sincerely,
      John
      Dear John: Since you are 23, any charges filed against would be filed in adult court. Based on your lack of criminal history, it is possible for your case to end up in a diversion program. This means that you could avoid a criminal record if you pay a fine or restitution to the store, complete community service hours and complete any required counseling or class. If diversion is not an option, you may face similar consequences while being on probation. Shoplifting fines vary from state to state. When you go to court, you should have an opportunity to speak with a court officer and ask him/her about how much of a fine you may be facing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • John Lewis
      Mon, 07 Dec 2009 at 08:49

      I am 17 years old and I got caught shoplifting it was a 1 gigabyte DDR ram worth $54.95 and i opened the package in the bathroom and put it in my pocket and as I was walking out on the first door where the scanners are at a man stopped me and said I know what you did now follow me before they started questions he asked me if I have any jobs then he asked if I had a id card on me (I didn’t) so at that time a police officer said and I quote “That’s not good” so I give him my info everything but my ssn but my dad came in and gave him all his info including ssn and they wrote me a citation which reads my crime as “robbery” I know mostly what they can get me for is larceny this is my first offense to will this be on my record? I live in Arkansas
      Dear John: Since this is your first offense and you’re a minor, you may be offered diversion which will keep your record clear once you complete the terms of the program [for example, work hours, a fine, class or counseling]. What you describe isn’t robbery. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Tanya
      Tue, 08 Dec 2009 at 02:37

      hi,im 14 i live in maryland i got shoplifting few weeks ago in Jc penny,this is my first time stealing i steal about $40,i know was stupid for stealing and i will never do it agin in my life ,so a lady who works their took to this romm and she check me and she found a shirt in my bag,then she call the police,and they told me i have to pay the price twice as much and i have to go to court,but they havent send me the date yet,but from jc penny they sent me a letter it say i have to pay $81 and i did bt didnt say anything abt court,so i was wondring what will happen in da court,do i need a lywer,will it be on my record forever and will they tell my school?
      Dear Tanya: Police don’t usually tell schools about kids who get caught shoplifting. If you are given a court date, the process will be explained to you by a court/probation officer when you go. Since it’s your first offense, you may be offered diversion which means you’ll complete some work hours, pay a fine, attend counseling or a class about theft. You may have a record but talk to the court officer about getting it cleared once all of this is resolved. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kate
      Tue, 08 Dec 2009 at 10:48

      Hello,
      I’m a 19 year old college student and about 3 months ago, I was accused of shoplifting in Icing.
      I’m a very indecisive shopper, and was meandering back and forth trying to decide if I wanted a pair of earrings, valued at $10.50, or a nail polish for $4.50 and I’d already picked up sunglasses off the sale rack.
      Unfortunately, I have a habit of picking. I pick scabs (horrible and gross, I know.), sunburn, stickers, and anything that’s peeling. Well, the sticker on the back of the earrings was peeling, and I subconciously started to pick at it whilst decided on a nail polish color. I’d walked away to back to the sun glasses rack to make sure that they were really $2 so I’d have enough money, and then came back to the earrings, realizing that the pair I had in my hand was no longer there. Apparently, I’d dropped them, and they fell in my hot topic bag, which I hadn’t realized until the assistant manager stopped me on my way back to the earring rack, made a huge scene, and called the mall cops on me.
      I was taken away after she took her time getting my info, and sat in the back of the mall for 4 hours until the state cop came, searched through all of my belongings, arrested me, and took me to the station.
      After being terrified out of my wits and afraid to tell anyone about the whole ordeal, I finally told my parents because I was becoming physically ill from the stress. My intention was to plead guilty and try to get probation before judgment since this is my first offense, and all I wanted was for this horrific ordeal to be over with. But since my parents got involved and got a lawyer, they told me to plead not guilty and wouldn’t let me pay the $150 charge to drop all of this nonsense. So, I went to my arraignment and was told that if convicted, I could end up in jail for up to a year, or have $2,000 worth of fines.
      I’m terrified and would much rather die than go to jail for something I did on accident. My lawyer is going to fight saying that I hadn’t even tried to leave the store with the earrings. What are the chances that I’ll be proven not guilty?
      Dear Kate: That’s a question even your lawyer would have difficulty answering. But he or she should know best, since they know the community, the judge and have sized up your case by reading the police reports, etc. There are no guarantees that the decision will go either way. Talk this over with your lawyer, and stop ‘picking’ unless you’re in the produce section.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Joe
      Wed, 09 Dec 2009 at 12:37

      Hi, the other day I got caught shoplifting from Macys with an $80 shirt. About a halfhour later, the security guards and a cop came and arrested me at the mall. I have an upcoming court date. While in court will they ask if I have shoplifted before this? Is there any possible way they can know? Can they search my house for any stolen items? And I am 16 years old. Thanks :)
      Dear Joe: Once you’re in court, you may be asked a number of questions. You’ll meet with a probation or court officer and the process will be explained to you. It’s not likely that your house would be searched unless the police have probable cause to believe stolen items are there and they have a search warrant. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Tatiana
      Wed, 09 Dec 2009 at 12:52

      Hi, i am 34 years old, yesterday my cousin asked me to take her to the boscovs store in reading PA to get some stuff not knowing her real intentions. well we got cauth and i said we because i did bought something and after i found out she was stiling i let her used my bag to put her stuffs, we was taken into an office the LP only took my information because my cousin didnt have any ID on her,i was so upset,scare and ashame because i have never done anything like these before. i am so afraid. the LP didnt make me sign anything no police was called (that i know)they just told me that a letter will come in the mail with a penalty or something like that.
      will it be on my record?
      what should i do? Please help i am going crazy about it.
      Dear Tatiana: Askthejudge.info is an educational web site for teenagers about the law. You may read some of our responses to similar questions from teens to get an idea of how shoplifting is handled by stores and the justice system. We don’t provide legal advice to adults or kids for that matter, just information. Good luck.

    • Eva
      Wed, 09 Dec 2009 at 02:01

      Dear Judge:

      Thank you so much for answering. I will definitely stay away from the store, and stay away from troubles. I will be the best I could be.Again, thanks a lot.

      God Bless You,
      Eva

    • Nick
      Sat, 12 Dec 2009 at 07:10

      Hello i have an upcoming court date in maryland. i have been charged with eight counts of theft and one count of scheming. i was cought taking money out of the registers when i worked at target. the total was over 500 dollars which is a felony. i am a first time offender however and have no previous criminal record. i am receiving therapy right now. do you think that is a good way to show the judge that i am never going to steal again? Is there anyway to avoid jail time in this situation?
      Dear Nick: Anything you can do to improve yourself is a good thing and the court may take it into consideration. As far as avoiding jail time, that depends on the facts of the case and the specific criminal laws in your state. If you have a lawyer, ask him or her what they think will be a reasonable sentence in your case. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Nicole
      Sun, 13 Dec 2009 at 05:10

      I was caught shoplifting from Kohls. I am being charged with retail fraud of the 3rd degree. The amount taken was around 85$. The police were called and I was taken in for fingerprints/picture. I was released by $50 cash bond. My court date is a week from tomorrow. I was told I would be appointed an attorney by the court since there is no way I can afford one. I am 20 years old and this is my first offense ever and I am very scared of what will happen. I live in Michigan and I know that HYTA is available. Bottom line if you could give me some advice on what to do/expect I would appreciate it.
      Dear Nicole: Once you get to court and meet with your lawyer and/or probation officer, the process will be explained to you. You may be eligible for diversion since, as you said, this is your first offense. Or you may be placed on short-term probation with terms that you’ll need to complete [work hours, a fine, restitution, etc.]. Tell the truth and you’ll be able to put this behind you soon. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Samantha
      Sun, 13 Dec 2009 at 05:34

      Dear judge Tom, a few days ago my friend and I got caught shoplifting from a macys. I only took one item, a 65 dollar pair of sunglasses, I did not go to macys intending to shoplift but rather buy christmas presents for family and friends. This decision was completely implusive and I am sincerely ashamed of my actions.

      I am prepared to take responsibility for my actions and pay my civil demands and court fees as possible as I am able. I am 19 years old and This is the first offense I have ever committed in my entire life so i would like to apply for pretrial diversion. But I cannot find any reliable information on how to go about getting it. I would hire a lawyer to help me figure it out but I only work part time because I am a student in college and cannot afford to do so. A friend told me that since my crime is so petty that I will not be able to get a public defender. Is this true? If so could you give me information about how to apply with for pretrial diversion? Am I supposed to speak with the judge about it before the hearing, or request it during? and do I have to be sentenced beforehand?

      As I have said this is my first offense so I am unsure of what to do, I am prepared to take responsibility for my mistake but my future is very important to me, and I just want a second chance to have a clean record and be a law abiding member of society. Thank you.
      Dear Samantha: Since this is your first offense, you may be eligible for diversion if it is offered in your area. It’s entirely up to the laws and practices of your city/town. If you have a court date, the process will be explained to you. If you don’t, then pay the civil demand and the case may be closed with your only record being with the store. If you’ve been cited into court, you can call the court in advance of your hearing date and ask for information about what to expect. Good luck.
      This is information only – not legal advice].

    • Samantha
      Sun, 13 Dec 2009 at 05:53

      Thank you I will call the court tomorrow.

    • MINDY
      Sun, 13 Dec 2009 at 08:16

      Just today, my 13 year old sister was caught shoplifting at Claire’s in San Diego. She took three necklaces retailing at about $8 each. There were no police, but the manager had asked for my dad’s driver’s license number and address. She says that she will send the information to the corporate and if they decide to prosecute, then a court date will be mailed. This is her first offense.. will there be a prosecutiong? Will there be a fine? What will be the consequences?
      Dear Mindy: Since this is your sister’s first offense and she’s 13, you may not hear anything from either the police or the store. The store could impose a civil fine that she’ll be required to pay [or your parents] and then the case will be closed. We hope she’s learned something from this experience. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Rose Burkley
      Mon, 14 Dec 2009 at 12:32

      I was arrested for shoplifting. I’m 17 and I will be tried as an adult, however this is my first time being arrested and I was never read my miranda rights. I was cuffed to a bench, questioned, photographed, had my finger prints taken and was given a courtdate. Can I “get off free” because the officer didn’t tell me my rights?
      Dear Rose: Whether “Miranda” applies to your situation is a case specific determination. Discuss the facts of your case with your lawyer and he or she will decide whether to challenge any statements you made to the police. It’s not an automatic “get off free” as you suggest. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Nicole
      Mon, 14 Dec 2009 at 05:41

      I have a couple more questions…since I am 20 is there any way my parents will find out about this? I am too ashamed to tell them. Second how long do HYTA/diversion programs usually last? Last how much do you think I am looking to pay?
      Dear Nicole: Since you’re an adult, your parents shouldn’t be involved. Diversion programs vary in length from state to state. You can call the court and ask for general information about their program. The same with fines – they vary in different court jurisdictions. You could ask about this as well when you call the court or public defender’s office. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Unavailable
      Wed, 16 Dec 2009 at 02:09

      So today i was caught shoplifting some batteries at walmart today. it totaled to around $6. The Lp caught up to me as i was walking out the door. he took me to back and took my information and told me i would receive a letter for restitution. NOW my main question starts here… i am currently on probation and i am wondering if my probation officer will hear about this? Oh and i am in texas.
      Unless the store or the police contact your probation officer, it’s not likely he or she would be notified of this latest incident. It’s always best to play it straight so you might consider whether you’ll tell your PO or not. One of your probation terms requires you to stay out of trouble and not break the law, right? This one is your call – talk it over with your parents. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • kyle
      Wed, 16 Dec 2009 at 08:18

      i was caught shoplifting at a food store(los angeles, california) and i have court in 2 days. what should i expect or what are they going or tell me?
      Dear Kyle: You’ll meet with a court officer [probation officer] and the process will be explained to you. If this is your first time, depending on your age, you may be eligible for diversion. That means if you complete work hours, pay a fine or restitution to the store, a class or counseling, the case will be closed and you won’t have a record. Otherwise, you can plead not guilty and go to trial on the charge, letting the court decide your guilt or innocence and penalty. Good luck.
      This is information only – not legal advice].

    • Charissa
      Wed, 16 Dec 2009 at 09:50

      Hello,
      I got caught shoplifting and I’m 19 and I’m wondering if I really have to pay the store the fine they issued me. I know I have to pay the fine that the courts issue me but do I have to pay the fine that the store told me I had to pay them? And also how am I going to pay the fines that the court issues me? Do I have to pay them upfront? What if I can’t pay up front? Is there some kind of payment plan?
      Dear Charissa: Yes, you do have to pay the civil fine the store imposes or they can sue you for it which will increase the amount you’ll owe them [including their attorney fees]. As far as the court, they will work with you and put you on a payment schedule that meets your financial situation. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Patrick Peterson
      Thu, 17 Dec 2009 at 11:54

      I have a friend that is on probation and was with a friend that was caught shoplifting. My friend was also given a ticket to appear in court because they were together. What will happen to my friend that is on probation?
      Dear Patrick: What happens to your friend on probation depends entirely on his part, if any, in the shoplifting incident. If he was involved and is charged, it will affect his probation. It could be revoked and he’d be facing jail depending on his record. Otherwise, if he’s not involved, his probation shouldn’t be affected unless he violated any of its terms such as associating with the other friend who shoplifted. Good luck to your friend.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jasmina
      Fri, 18 Dec 2009 at 12:46

      Hi Judge Tom,

      I am currently a university student in the state of Washington (age 23). Yesterday, I got caught shoplifting at my University Bookstore, but my case is a little different. You see, at the end of every quarter, there is what we call “Textbook Buybacks,” in which students sell back their textbooks back to the bookstore for a fraction of the price. I did an awful thing by basically going into the bookstore, picking up a new textbook and re-selling it back to them. I was caught, and it was worth about $130. The store security pretty much detained me, had me fill out some paper work, said I would have some civil fines to pay coming in the mail for me and that I should be expecting some court orders/documents 1-3 months from now. I am banned from all University Bookstores nationwide, no police were involved, but I’m sure they’re sending my information in.

      I feel horrible. Just thinking about makes me so sick and upset that I can’t even eat; it’s consuming my thoughts, so I’m really hoping that you can answer some of my questions so that I may be somewhat at peace with myself for the time being.

      I did this because I needed a little extra cash for the holidays. I wanted to get something a little special this year for my family, and now I realize that this was not worth it. Instead of enjoying my time with them now, it is spent looking up what will happen to me.

      Judge, I am very scared. I am so sorry for what I have done (believe me, I won’t be doing it again) and I don’t know what will happen to me. This is my first offense ever, and I will be graduating this coming June. I will be applying for grad school this year, and if I don’t get in, I want to be able to at least find a job. I am devastated that this could prevent me from getting one. I know what I did was wrong, and I’m willing to face the consequences… only, I don’t really know what they are?

      I am willing to pay the fines, since I know I am at fault. I’m just scared about the court process, moreover, my criminal record. I am willing to do community service or whatever it takes to make this go away, but I’m scared that it will forever remain on my record. Is there any chance, at all, that after doing what is asked of me, that this won’t go on my record? I know that is usually the case with juveniles, but I am an adult, so I just want to know what is most likely going to happen.

      Thank you in advance, and I’m sorry for the long novel I wrote here.
      Dear Jasmina: Since this is your first offense, you may be eligible for a diversion program that your local court/prosecutor may offer for this type of offense. If so, you’ll have to complete community work hours, pay a fine, complete a class or counseling, etc. Once done, the matter is closed and you don’t have a record. Even if you have to go to court and you admit the incident, the consequences are similar and once completed, you may apply to clear your record after a period of time. Every state handles shoplifting differently, so you need to ask a court or probation officer what is the policy where you live for adults. This won’t ruin your life or future opportunities – but you need to deal with the consequences as soon as possible so you can put this behind you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Darcy Steele
      Fri, 18 Dec 2009 at 01:47

      Hello, I was arrested for shoplifting and went to court. I was seventeen so they said they were going to fix my record due to my age and they said if I didn’t get into trouble for 6 months, the case is over. Does this mean it is totally gone. If I want to pursue a career in criminal justice for law, will this situation affect anything. Am I allowed to?
      Dear Darcy: It means it will be gone once you complete the terms required of you. This is “diversion” – a common procedure for first time offenders of lesser crimes. You won’t have a “record” and will be able to go forward with any education, military and employment opportunities. Just don’t become a repeat offender. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kerri
      Sat, 19 Dec 2009 at 12:04

      I have a question regarding my son who is 15. He got caught shoplifting today at walmart the amount was a dollar and some change. They called the police and filed a report and now we have to go to court. Is there anything I can do to keep him from having to go to court? I even offered to pay the dollar as I did not even know he did this and they refused to take my money. Is there anything at all I can about this? I live in TN
      Dear Kerri: You need to appear in court with your son and take care of this. It may involve a diversion program which means your son will have to complete a class, counseling, work hours or pay a fine, and the case will be closed. As long as he doesn’t repeat this behavior, his future shouldn’t be affected. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Donna Tran
      Sat, 19 Dec 2009 at 12:58

      Dear Judge,
      Background: I am a 17 year old girl that attends a very prestigious school, has good grades (4.0), and has done community service (+200 hours).

      Scenario: On December 8th, I went to Macy’s with two friends with no intention of stealing. We came in the store to shop for christmas presents. While shopping, I realized all the nice things that I wish I could afford to give as presents to my family. I stole a bit less than $100 worth of merchandise and was caught. While in the loss prevention office, I texted my friends that I got caught and the woman in charge took my phone away and questioned me about the text. My two friends left about an hour later. I was then arrested, printed, given a citation and released to my mother. My court date is in February.

      On November 18 I went to target with the same two friends with no intention of stealing. I actually bought about $30 worth of food. However while shopping my friends decided to shoplift make-up and I was peer pressured into doing the same. The whole time I didn’t want to do it and I was very scared, but I have friendship issues and I didn’t want to show that I was a “wimp.” I was caught again with about $250 worth of merchandise (most of which weren’t even mine) and had the same process repeated. My court date is in March.

      I know you won’t believe me when I say I will never shoplift again, but I really learned my lesson this time. I have completely stopped talking to those girls and I am really hoping that I can do something to lower my sentence or not have to go to jail. My 2 person (mom and me) home income is is less than 10,000 a year and I really don’t think I can afford to pay all the fines.

      Please, help me. I am so scared and I really want to find redemption.
      If it helps, my first arrest was in Torrance and the second was in Cerritos.
      Thank you so much for your time.
      Dear Donna: It’s good that you’ve recognized the influence of these so-called friends and moved on. Now you have to acept the consequences of your actions. Since you’re a minor and these are your first offenses, you may be offered a diversion program. That means if you complete work hours, pay a fine and/or restitution, attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed and you may avoid a record. You may also be put on probation for a brief period with the same terms. Follow the court’s orders and you can put this behind you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • elizabeth a langert
      Sat, 19 Dec 2009 at 05:36

      Judge Tom, I;M a 61 year old lady who is on medications now ,and lost my husband and have a brother dying from cancer in my home state of n.c ,i live in georgia and i was in wal-marts about half out of my mind with every thing going on in my life and its x-mas and i can;t go home ,but i am being honest its the first time i have ever done something so dumb ,and i know better why i don;t know maybe attention i don;t lie and was caught shoplifting nothing big just a few small things and the lady that caught me was so rude to me and i take care of my godfather also who is 89 and i am stressed out ,the lady is black and i begged her please i will pay for it ,just let me go home ,this woman had no right to talk to me like that i know what i did was wrong ,but treat me like a human and i am whiye and this small town is alot of gossip and she knew i had copd and i had mt medicine with me ,i have a court date and i;m trying to sell my home and go back to my family whats left of it ,i am not looking for pity god knows ,i don;t need that ,and wgat will happen to me in georgia for the police officer cuffed me and told me well the good news is you have no record no sir i have always lived a clean life tryed to and when i lost my mother and husband real close together ,i also have some uncureable isssues with my health and i am about to worry myself sick about the court date for the whole town knows everybody and i am so ashamed ,is there a way i can see the judge alone or a officer of the court and matbe he can tel me what is going to happen ,i cannot go to jail for i have so many things on me now ,so please advise me how i can do this without the whole town knowing it ,for i will never leave my home again if i have to stand there and tell the court my story ,my dr, said not to worry i am a good person just stressed out and alot of people do things .will a letter to the court from him help for i am not a well person and believe me i will do anything they ask as long as the whole town does not know for i would really go off the deep end then help me sir if you can ,i don;t have alot of money and do i need a lawyer ,please advise me soon ,thank you judge tom
      Dear Ms. Langert: First, we must tell you that Askthejudge is a web site for teenagers about the law. So your question is beyond the scope of this site. However, we will tell you that if this is your first offense, when you meet with the court officer, you may expect to be offered diversion which means if you complete work hours, pay a fine, go to a class or counseling, this matter will be over. It may not be made public either, but every city, town etc. is different. Since you’re an adult, it may be public information. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • amie
      Sat, 19 Dec 2009 at 11:45

      hi,this is amie im from maryland,and i got shoplifting at jc penny and im 14 i steal abot $40 doller,this is my first time caught,and i feel so gulity anyway i dont know what to expect in court they send me a letter from court and sed i have a appointment in intake officer,im just wondring do i need a lywer and my parent does not speck english that much nd the letter also sed that the youth and the parent to take screening services whats that?will this will be in my record forever? and will the court send a letter to my school that i got shoplifting?plz i need answer really quick,thank you
      Dear Amie: When you go to court and meet with the court officer, he or she will explain the process to you. If this is your first offense, you’ll probably be offered diversion which means if you complete some work hours, pay a fine, complete a class or counseling, the case will be closed. You won’t have a “record” and your school shouldn’t become aware of it. Don’t become a repeat offender and this incident won’t follow you around in your adult life. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • KaeLani
      Sat, 19 Dec 2009 at 11:49

      Hello, i was Just curious as to what will happen to me I was caught trying to take this cheap necklace, it was only $9.50 and it’s my first offense, I’m 17 and I just want to know how much trouble I’m in or wants going to happen
      Dear Kaelani: Either the store may handle this as a civil matter, meaning you’ll get a letter with notice of a fine or it will go to court and you’ll receive notice in the mail. Either way you’re probably looking at community service hours, a fine, a class or counseling, or possibly probation. Once this is behind you, you can ask the court for a clear record. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jhon
      Mon, 21 Dec 2009 at 12:37

      hi,i got shoplifting at walmart abt a month ago
      they told me to go to court,im just wondring what
      things and what kind of paper should i bring to court?
      thank you.
      Dear Jhon: If you were not cited in to a court or told when and where to appear, relax until you are notified. Once you become aware of a court date, make sure you appear on time, and the process will be explained to you. The store may have decided just to warn you this time and take no further action. If that’s the case, don’t repeat the incident because it won’t be the same next time it happens. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • teania
      Mon, 21 Dec 2009 at 06:39

      hi im teania,i got shoplifting at jc penny i live in maryland,so i had to pay $81 doller to jc penny bcuz that is twice as the price i steal so after a month i got a latter from court,this is my first time caught and im 15,in da letter they told me to bring some stuff bt i dont know what r thet do u have to bring them?and it sed something about screening service,do i have to take that test,and can u plz expline me what kind of paper do i need when i go2 court?
      Dear Teania: Ask your Mom or Dad or any other family member to read the letter you received from the court. You need to take with you whatever the court requires in order to avoid having to return a second time. You may be placed in the court’s diversion program after going through screening. The court officer will explain the process to you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Tram Le
      Tue, 22 Dec 2009 at 06:14

      I shoplifted, got caught, and was charged with an infraction because it was my first offense a year ago (2008). Even though it was my first offense, it wasn’t my first time shoplifting, I had shoplifed a couple times before that but got away.

      I’ve learned my lesson in a very hard way. I’m a very good and honest person, it was just at the period of time I was addicted to shoplifting. I’ve been feeling bad every day ever since, I’d just sit and stare at those stuffs that I’ve taken and feel pain and regret, every single day.

      Besides, I feel scared, would the store look back at their security camera tapes and find out that I stole more than once and would they call the cops to search my house?

      I don’t know what I’d do with all these stuffs now. I want to get rid of all of them, they are mostly jewlery, can you help me find a way to give them away?
      Dear Tram: The store won’t likely review their tapes looking for you or report anything to the police since a year has passed. To ease your conscience, you might consider sending the items back to the store with a note of apology – you don’t have to sign it or identify yourself. Otherwise, you could donate the items to charity. It’s good that you’ve learned from this experience. All the best.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Alicia
      Wed, 23 Dec 2009 at 04:22

      Hey I need some help. I am originally from Texas but my husband is in the navy so I moved to Virginia with him. Well I got caught shoplifting a couple years ago items less that 100$ and was put on probation for 9 mnths, well a few months later i got a felony charge with it bein less that a gram ( x pill ) which i am currently on right now. Just yesterday out of stupidity I was caught shoplifting for 2nd time ( this is in 2 diff states)I tried calling probation officer but since its the holidays they are not there. Also I am in the middle of trying to get early dismissal for my probation, which i dnt think will happen now. Me and my probation officer have a pretty good relationship tho and I been doing so good and been going to college ive just been so stressed out I was just being stupid. What could happen to me?
      Dear Alicia: What happens depends on how you decide to proceed with the current charges. Since you’re on probation already, you’re facing additional probation time with a possibility of additional jail time due to your history [as related to us in a second email]. Discuss the situation with your attorney and/or probation officer and decide what’s best for you [i.e. trial, pleading guilty or working out a plea agreement]. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sarah
      Wed, 23 Dec 2009 at 05:46

      today i was caught shoplioplifting from wal mart. it was all under $25 and im a minor (17). a guy stopped me at the door and made me go in this room and made me call my mom and come get me (she was already in the store). i live in the state of california. i wanna know what will happen to me… i know i’ll have to pay fines but what about court? and my record?? is it gonna be on it forever?? im really sorry and i dont ever want to do it again. and i just read something about walmart letting go minors if the stuff was under $25 is that true to??
      Dear Sarah: Since this is your first offense and you’re a minor, you may not have to go to court. The store may handle it without notifying the police. You’ll likely receive a letter in the mail requesting payment of a civil fine – pay it on time and the case will be closed, although it will stay on record with the store in the event you return and shoplift again. If this is what happens, you don’t have a “juvenile record” for future job or school purposes. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Dii Johnson
      Wed, 23 Dec 2009 at 10:06

      i just got caught shoplifting at local mall in my town. the officers took my prints and i have to go to court next month,and the place is pressing charges also. will this stick with me the rest of my life. will i be able to get a job? plus this is my first offense.
      Dear Dii: Since this is your first offense, and we assume you’re under 18, you may be offered diversion when you go to court. A court officer will explain the process to you. It may include work hours, a fine or restitution to the store, a class or counseling program. If you were trespassed from the mall, don’t return until you’re permitted. If you receive diversion, you won’t have a “record” and this one incident shouldn’t affect the rest of your life. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • ranosh
      Thu, 24 Dec 2009 at 10:03

      I live in USA. in Dearborn, i am international studtents I got caught shoplifting in amount of 50 $ for first time in my life . i am planing to pay the amount even if i will not eat anything. i got caught by police. i am feeling guilty since then. i will have court but i am scared so much. I am afraid i cannot pay fine to court Am i going to jail? is this will be in my record if i would apply to green card. please tell me what can i do? thanks
      Dear Ranosh: Askthejudge.info is a website for teens about juvenile law and teens’ rights; therefore, the information provided by Askthejudge does not apply to you since you are an adult. That being said, we will go ahead and provide some information to help put your mind at ease. Since this is your first offense, there is still a chance that the court and prosecutor will allow your case to proceed through a diversion program. The program would require completion of community service hours, payment of a fine/restitution and possibly the completion of a class or counseling. Jail time is usually not imposed for a first offense; however, if you violate the terms of your program, jail time is more likely. Upon successful completion of the program, the charges would be dismissed and you would have no record, although you should consult with an immigration attorney to find out how it might affect your chances of obtaining a green card. You may also face being placed on probation. If this occurs, you would have a record and could later ask the court to set aside your conviction or expunge your record. Typically the courts do not require that the fine be paid up front. They will work with you and allow you to make payments. We hope you learned from this incident. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Jasmina
      Thu, 24 Dec 2009 at 05:14

      Hi Judge,

      This is the same Jasmina from an earlier post. I just had another quick question. I am currently filling out my grad application and it is asking whether or not I have been CONVICTED of a crime. While I have gotten my civil fine in the mail, I have not yet received the documents from the court, and I was told that it may take several months (I may already hear back from my school by then). Am I only convicted once I am in court, or am I currently convicted now? Suppose they ran a background check on me right now (and let’s suppose that all my information has been entered into the system), would my school be able to pull up my current charges? I don’t know whether or not I should put yes or no. I plan on getting this pushed off my record, so this makes it kind of hard for me to explain.
      Thank you for your time!
      Dear Jasmina: If you haven’t been to court or pleaded guilty or not guilty to the charge, you have not been “convicted.” If you’re offered diversion and complete the program successfully, your record will be clear because the charge was “diverted” away from the criminal system. So, read the questions carefully before answering.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Rob
      Thu, 24 Dec 2009 at 10:09

      Hi. I was caught today shoplifting with my friend from Walgreens. Combined we took about $90 in our backpacks. They have us on camera coming there multiple times. Now after sitting in a holding cell arrested that turned into a wake up call. I have a clean record and this was my first time caught. I’ve never been in trouble with the law. We’re both 17 but we have different stories.

      We were taken to the back of the store and they counted up how much we lifted. They said they will prosecute us, then they called the police. After about 2 hours they let us go to our parents.

      He actually was on probation for “weapons possession” (it was a BB gun but it was still classified that way). What can he expect?

      We don’t have a court date because it was done today but we were just wondering what to expect.

      Oh and to add, this probably won’t have any affect but when arresting they didn’t read us our rights. I am not really worried about the police just the lawsuit that I think is coming.
      Thanks! We have learned our lesson.
      Dear Rob: First, if only the store was involved and no police, there’s no requirement that you be read your “rights.” The Miranda warnings only apply to those in custody by law enfrocement, not to store owners, teachers, principals, etc. Since this is your first offense, you may be eligible for diversion which means you’ll have to complete some community service hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling and the case will be closed. You won’t have a “juvenile record” if you follow all terms of diversion. Or you may just receive a letter from the store demanding that you pay a fine, then the matter is closed. Your friend may be handled differently since he’s already on probation. The new shoplifting is a violation of probation. He needs to discuss the situation with his probation officer if it comes to his or her attention. Good luck – hopefully you’ve learned something from this incident.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jack
      Fri, 25 Dec 2009 at 06:31

      well, i’ve been thinking these past years so much, well i got caught lifting an they got my info but not my ssn and took me back to their room They filled the paper out and parent came but no police and i paid a civil demand…… thats pretty much it… will my record be in the national theft databse and preventing me from a job if they do a background chek?
      Dear Jack: If there were no police involved and you weren’t cited in to court, there is no “record” of this incident in the judicial system. It may stay in the store’s records in the event you return and shoplift again. Then they may choose to prosecute you. This should not be in a national database. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jack
      Sat, 26 Dec 2009 at 04:42

      so if my emploeyers do a background check will my name ever show up?

      (by the way, Thanks so much, been thinking about this since the day i did it…i feel so much better having somebody who knows what their doing telling me truthful answers)
      Dear Jack: It’s not likely that anything has been entered into a law enforcement database if the police and courts weren’t involved. Relax and have a safe New Years.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jack
      Sun, 27 Dec 2009 at 05:48

      Yes!!thank you so much! now i can finally get this off my chest, thanks a lot!

    • jack
      Sun, 27 Dec 2009 at 06:31

      well, sorry to bother you but i was looking at this site http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/problems/shoplifting.html# and it said that
      “•Even if people who shoplift aren’t prosecuted, their names can end up on a national database that some companies look at when making hiring decisions”?
      Dear Jack: We researched your comment and are unable to locate a “national database” for shoplifters. We wrote to KidsHealth.org for clarification and will post any new information we might receive. A store may keep its own records of people caught shoplifting in their database which may be national [Walmart, Target, Penneys etc.] but we’re unaware of a law enforcement database that is national regarding shoplifters.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Gayle
      Sun, 27 Dec 2009 at 10:16

      Police were called to kohls and I was accused of shopflifting. I was given a ticket and will have to go to court. I would not sign a statement of intentually shoplifting as it was not intentual. I had a necklace that was not concealed it was laying on the top of my other bags, When I went to checkout I did not see it and was stopped at the door. I asked what was going on and was told to follow the store personal. I have to plead not quilty, but am reading that no contest and there should be no court cost. I cannot aford to pay costs but just can’t plea guilty when I forgot about it. How would you proceed? I am an adult.
      Dear Gayle: Askthejudge.info is a site about the law for teenagers. We do not provide legal advice to either adults or teens. You need to speak with your lawyer or court officer about this situation and how to proceed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Bailey
      Sun, 27 Dec 2009 at 10:42

      im 13 today i was caught shoplifting at claires. it was a complete accident. i was gettint a text from my mom and the item(which was worth4$) was in my hand. when i went to grab the phone out of my purse i accidentally dropped the item in my purse and didnt relize it. when i left the store the manager grabbed me and told me to give her bac her stuff. i didnt know what she was talking about so when she ased me to look in my purse i saw the item and i was freaking out because i have never been in trouble and ive never had any intention to steal. she called security and they too my information and gave me a court date. Im EXTREAMLY scared.this is my first offence. what will happen to me?
      Dear Bailey: What you have described is not uncommon. Many people have done the same thing and its understandable. Explain exactly what happened to the court officer that you’ll meet with when you go to court. He or she will explain the process to you and you and your parents can decide how you want to proceed. After you explain what happened, the prosecutor may decide to drop the charge against you. If not, you’ll probably be offered diversion which means after you complete some work hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed and you won’t have a record. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jessica William
      Tue, 29 Dec 2009 at 01:45

      Hello, Judge

      my boyfriend got caught shoplifting and he provided false information(he said he’ll be so embrassed if his family finds out about it so he told lies). He is 25 years old. Police is involved and take a picture of him and gave him a court date. The information he provided is all wrong expect his phone number.He is thinking not to go to court beacuse the information he gave is not him and he is moving to another state. He is scared to go to court because they are going to charge aganist false information to police. Its his 1st time messing with the law.What would you advice? are they going to come after him even if he move out to another state. He have cancelled his phone service as well and moved out already. If he goes to court he will have more charges aganist him and if he doesnt then he is scared to death by getting caught through his phone number..Any advice? He have learned his lesson now.
      Thank you so much!
      Dear Jessica: First, we must tell you that Askthejudge.info is an educational website for teenagers about the law. We do not provide legal advice to anyone – adult or teen. Since your boyfriend is 25, he needs to face the music now before the situation gets worse. Every state has its own laws and procedures regarding the processing of crimes, including the issuance of warrants that could follow him from state to state. Courts don’t take it lightly when a defendant fails to appear for a hearing. His current offenses are probably misdemeanors and he should consider dealing with them now. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Mary
      Tue, 29 Dec 2009 at 06:07

      Hi Judge, My friend Josh recently got caught stealing beer from a store and is worried that he will be put back into Juvie for 3 years. I didn’t think it was possible for them to lock him away for that long when he’s only 15. But he does have a pretty bad record of getting into stuff, and he’s told me he has to go to court but thinks that an appeal is useless seeing as the Judge does not like him. Can he really be put away for that long?
      thanks,
      Dear Mary: In some states, it is possible to send a teenager to the juvenile department of corrections for years. If your friend’s record is extensive, as you say, and he’s been warned by the court about future activities, he may be facing lockup until he’s 18. It’s up to the sentencing judge who will take into consideration his attitude, behavior, criminal history, community safety and rehabilitation possibilities. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • parker
      Tue, 29 Dec 2009 at 07:13

      ok me and my friend got caught shopliftin in jcpennys in florida and i got caught taking $258 wroth of idems and i was arrested and was charged with a misterminer im 18 and this is my 1st offence what will happen to me?
      Dear Parker: Since you are 18, you will be charged as an adult. Your case may still be resolved through a diversion program which is a common resolution for first offenses. This program will require you to complete community work hours, pay a fine/restitution and attend a class or counseling. Upon successful completion of the program, the charges would be dismissed. If you plead guilty, you would likely be facing similar consequences in addition to being placed on probation. Once the case is over, you could go back to the court and request that your record be expunged. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Melissa
      Tue, 29 Dec 2009 at 10:14

      Hi. I got caught shoplifting today, and im really scared. It was my first time, and it was at claires. Im 14 years old and i live in CA. AND THE EXACT AMOUNT I got caught stealing was $12.50. The policeman gave me a “ticket” and they would call my house for my court date. It was my first time, im really scared and all i want to know is, what is going to happen?
      Dear Melissa: Since this is your first time you’ll probably be given a chance to complete a diversion program. That means if you do some work hours, attend a class or counseling session, the charge may be dropped and you won’t have a record. Otherwise, you may have to see a judge and explain what happened. The consequences may be the same. Just don’t do it again because the penalties increase with each offense. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • parker
      Wed, 30 Dec 2009 at 10:49

      deR JUDGE i would like to know if you would by any chance know hour many hours they would give me?
      Dear Parker: The number of work hours depends on the need for community service in your area, the judge assigned to the case, your court policies regarding work hours, and your history of offenses. There are many factors in making these decisions. You can ask the court officer that you’ll meet when you go to court – he or she should have a good idea of the number you can expect. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • parker
      Wed, 30 Dec 2009 at 10:58

      Dear judge i would like if i was to get a lawyer if the out come will be better or about the same?
      Dear Parker: Since hiring a lawyer doesn’t change the facts of the case or the applicable law, in an ideal world it shouldn’t make a difference. This is something you should discuss with your parents before deciding how to proceed. Lawyers are trained to examine the details of a case and protect your rights under current laws and procedures.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jack
      Wed, 30 Dec 2009 at 06:07

      okay, i’ll be waiting until then, thanks

      -Jack_
      You’re welcome, Jack.

    • Gabi
      Wed, 30 Dec 2009 at 08:43

      Well I got caught shopliftng(will NEVER do something that STUPID again) and they took me to the little office in the store and called the police, I’m 16 (about to be 17) and what I stole was under $70 The police did not take me in the station and I didn’t ride the car and they did not get my finger prints. What will happen to my record? It’s my first offense (and my last). Will it be clean after I turn 18?
      Dear Gabi: Since this is your first offense, you may be offered what is called diversion. That means if you complete some community service, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed with no official juvenile record. You may also receive notice of a court date which may have the same result. Whatever happens, be sure to meet all deadlines regarding the terms that you agree to. If you end up with a record, once you’re 18 you’ll be able to apply for a clear one depending on the laws of your state. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • simon
      Wed, 30 Dec 2009 at 08:49

      hello. im 18 and i live in michigan. Im currently on probation. i got cought shoplifting one out of the two 20 dollar earrings. they took me to the security room and were being all cool with me. they called in a lady cop and she took my name and address and told me to expect a letter in the mail for court date in six weeks. i just wanna know what will happen to me. its my first time getting cought shoplifting. and im on probation.????
      Dear Simon: Since you’re already on probation the new shoplifting incident is also a violation of your probation. The consequences depend on your history of offenses, your present work or school status and many other factors that the court will take into consideration. Discuss the possible penalties with your probation officer. He or she should be able to give you an idea of what you’re facing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • parker
      Thu, 31 Dec 2009 at 01:48

      Dear judge,
      Its parker again, and i was wondering if i was to be put on propbation would i still be able to ride bulls on the weekends and and what kind of community service normaly be givin to someone for shoplifing and thank you for the information you have givin to me so far it has been a big help.
      Dear Parker: What you’re assigned to do for community service all depends on the needs of your community. You may be assigned anything from clean-up duties at a park to serving at a nursing home, animal shelter, or local community center. As far as restrictions on your regular activities, that’s up to the judge and the court officer assigned to you. Have a good 2010 – stay out of trouble.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • scott
      Fri, 01 Jan 2010 at 11:47

      hey i did a beer run last night at wal mart,meaning i just walked in took two cases and walked out, im sure that they got a video of my face but i put the beer in my friends car and he took me home so they probably got his liscense plate, but before i did it they saw him talking to my other friend who was driving my car and i am worried they got my license plate also. the person who drove me home is on probation. i am 17 years old. should i be expecting police at my house soon?
      Dear Scott: It’s possible, but you may have lucked out this time. Depending on how busy your local law enforcement is these days, they may not pursue this shoplifting if the store doesn’t press charges. On the other hand, you may be charged with shoplifting and underage possession of alcohol. Think twice before you do it again. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kathy
      Sat, 02 Jan 2010 at 02:08

      Is it possible to get a shoplifting ban lifted? If so, then how should I go about doing it? If not, please explain why.
      Dear Kathy: It is possible by asking the store or mall that issued the ban. Try writing them a letter explaining the situation and why you’d like it lifted. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Steve
      Sat, 02 Jan 2010 at 09:24

      today I stole a five dollar item from a grocer store and wasn’t caught. I talked to my parents in the store and am afraid of being identified through them by being seen on camera since they purchased items so the store can find their names. I am 17 and live in Connecticut. Will the store spend the time to try and indentify me and then have me arrested?
      Dear Steve: The store has the option of pressing charges against shoplifters or they can seek a civil penalty against you. They may send you a letter in the mail requesting $100 to $200 [usually]. Pay it on time and the matter will be over. Of course that’s if they decide to identify you and track you down, or they can notify the police. Bottom line – pay for your items – the aggravation and consequences aren’t worth it. It’s a matter of right vs. wrong.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Melissa
      Sun, 03 Jan 2010 at 12:58

      Hey judge,
      i’m fourteen years old and i was caught shoplifting from walmart today, i know it’s so stupid i stole lip gloss that was $6 i know it was stupid, it was the stupidest thing i have EVER done. this was the first time (and the last time) i have ever been in any trouble with the law!, they say i am banned from walmart even the parking lot!! my mom was there but she had no clue i was doing that! i feel horrible! what should i expect, do i need a lawyer? P.S. i live in Kansas if that helps at all.
      i feel terrible :( thank you so much for reading this.
      Dear Melissa: If the police were not called and have not been involved, then it’s possible that the store is willing to resolve the situation with a civil fine only and not press charges. When a store chooses to not involve the police, they will send a “civil demand” letter asking for payment of a fine of up to a few hundred dollars. Pay off the fine and the case may be closed. You don’t need a lawyer at this point unless you’re charged with shoplifting and have to go to court. Think twice before doing this again.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • nick
      Sun, 03 Jan 2010 at 03:31

      Dear judge.

      Me and my friend got caught shop liftin yesterday at sears he waz the look out man.we stole a game that was 30 dollars wen we got out the store we went to the mall part then the undercover workers stopped us and asked us to come to the back they took down all our information and the women seem lyk she had a attitude she said the game we stole waz 30 dollars when the other worker told her it was 30 she said no people who steal don’t get discounts then they told us if we call our parents they will jst let us go but my dad is dead and my mom waz at work and she had a new cell number and I didint know the number and I live with my grandparents when I told em that they didint believe me and called the police the store workers made us sighn a paper saying we did steal from sears and another 1 that we waz banned from the mall for 5 years the police took down our information and told us we would get a call and a letter in the mail sayin we had to go to teen court and had my granddad sighn us over to leave (bt I waz nervous and gave them the wrong address number) what will happen when I go to court
      Dear Nick: Once you know the court date, make sure you appear. You may be offered diversion which means you may be required to complete some work hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling for dismissal of the charge. If you miss court, a warrant may be issued for your arrest. Don’t return to the mall or trespass charges could be filed against you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • steve
      Sun, 03 Jan 2010 at 08:34

      thanks. How can I pay for the item without getting in trouble?
      Dear Steve: You could consider sending the money to the store with a note – it’s your decision whether to sign it or not. Glad you’re thinking about this.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Melissa
      Sun, 03 Jan 2010 at 08:44

      Hey judge it’s Melissa again well when
      you replied you called me Tiffany lol but the cops
      were called to the store they took my ssn and height and weight
      but no pictures.. no Finger prints or anything so I’m really not sure
      what to expect but I have to set up some screening
      appt. But I don’t even know what that is?
      Dear Melissa: Sorry about the name error – if you were given a number to call, that may be to arrange some form of diversion [community service] in order to avoid court and a juvenile record. So make the call and follow the instructions you’re given to complete the process and close out this incident. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Stacy Lin
      Mon, 04 Jan 2010 at 09:01

      Hi, I’m 16 in california. I stole a shirt from ROSS that was only about 12 dollars and I noticed the security man point at me. I walked around the store and I wasn’t sure what to do because I had put the shirt on and had my normal shirt in my bag so I went to the dressing room again and switched and gave it back to the lady. I then walked out of the store. No one talked to me or called me back in but I know for sure they saw me. I didn’t leave the store with the merchandise. I recently recived some phone voice mails asking to talk to my parents and I’m not sure what’s happening. The messages don’t leave a call back number or any information, it simply asks for my parents using my name. Could the store possibly be contacting me? If so, what will happen?
      Dear Stacy: It is possible that the store is attempting to contact your parents, but unlikely since no one ever spoke with you or obtained your contact information. When a store catches a shoplifter, typically the store will decide to contact the police and press charges and/or send a “civil demand” letter asking you to pay a civil fine of up to a few hundred dollars. If the police were involved, you would receive a notice in the mail notifying you of your first court date. If this occurs and it is your first offense, it is likely that you would be offered a diversion program which means that any charges would be dismissed upon successful completion of community service hours, payment of a fine/restitution and completion of a class or counseling. You may be lucky this time and we hope you learned a valuable lesson from this incident.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • K
      Wed, 06 Jan 2010 at 03:26

      Hi, I am 21 and live in TN.
      I got caught shoplifting yesterday, it was the first time I’ve ever done anything like this and I have no reason, excuse or explaination. I just know that it was wrong and have a learned a very serious and severe lesson. Which at my age, you’d think I know better, and I did. As soon, as I did it….I was remorseful. Anyhow, the Loss Prevention approached me as I was exiting the store, asked me to follow him, which I did. I returned the merchandise and the police were called. I gave all my information. The officer was a very kind man and he gave me a ticket basically all it said was “Shoplifting 3 items with a cost of $100″ And he told me my court date was Feb 1st, in General Sessions and not Criminal Court. So, I’m wondering what I should expect at court. It was my FIRST offense, it was $100 cost, not a penny more. I was not arrested. And, the officer said I would likely get fined and 6 months probation and possibly 5 days in jail. I expected these things but not the jail time, that is my concern. Any advice or knowledge of this situation?
      Thank you
      Dear K: The officer may have been advising you of the maximum sentences under the circumstances. You may be eligible for a diversion program that means upon completion of work hours, payment of a fine and/or attendance at a class or counseling session, the matter will be closed. You could contact your local public defender’s office and ask for advice. Every state has its own laws and criminal code. The laws in Tennessee may authorize a period in jail for first-time shoplifters, but it would be unusual in a case involving a low dollar amount. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • S.N
      Thu, 07 Jan 2010 at 06:24

      HI, IAM 18 YEARS OLD WITH STRCT PARENTS I WAS COUGH SHOPLIFTING WITH ITEMS UP TO 150 DOLLAR IN THE STATE OF P.A IN KOHLS BUT THE POLICE OFFICER WAS NICE ENOUGH TO NOT ARREST ME BUT HE GIVED ME A CITATION AND TO REPORT TO A JUDGE WITHIN 10 DAYS, NOW IAM VERRY SCARED AND I WANTED TO KNOW IF IT WOULD GO ON MY RECORD OR IF THEY WILL MAIL ANYTHING TO MY HOUSE ..PLEASE HELP ANSWER THAT QUESTION FOR ME MY BIGGEST FEAR IS MY PARENTS FINDING OUT THROUGH THE MAIL N P.S I DO NOT EVEN HAVE A MAIL KEY
      Dear S.N.: Since you’re an adult you can appear in court on your own. If this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion which means if you complete some community work hours, pay a fine, attend a class or sounseling, the matter will be closed and there may not be a record of this incident. Don’t miss the court date or a notice may be sent to your home about the next hearing date. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Anon
      Fri, 08 Jan 2010 at 01:20

      I was caught shoplifting at a Whole Foods grocery store. I attempted to steal expensive facial moisturizing cream that amounted to $80 because I didn’t have enough money. I proceeded to pay for the rest of my groceries and left to go back to my car until the loss prevention manager took me inside. I was very cooperative and the police were called in. I have never been convicted before and have no warrants. I was not taken to jail for shoplifting at Whole Foods that day but I have a court appearance in two weeks. Was I technically arrested even though I didn’t wear handcuffs? Does this go onto my permanent record or onto a shoplifters database? I currently work in a major retail/clothing store and am afraid that I will lose my job if they find out through a database. Will my managers find out what happened even though I stole from a grocery store? If I move out of America, will this event decrease my chances of getting a job in Europe? Also, since this is my first misdemeanor and first appearance in court, do I have to bring a lawyer? I am 20 years old and truly feel that I am not a true criminal and do not know how to proceed. Thank you for your help.
      Dear Anon: First, if the police only took a report and cited you into court, you were not arrested. Once you appear in court, the process will be explained to you. Since you’re only 20 and this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion which means once you complete community work hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter will be closed. Depending on the laws in California, where you stated you’re from in a follow-up message, there may not be an official record of this. As far as we know, there is no national governmental database for shoplifters. This shouldn’t affect your future employment opportunities. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jessica
      Fri, 08 Jan 2010 at 02:53

      About 8 months ago I was caught shoplifting and I plead guilty. I payed the store a fine we t to court payed fines and community service. I’m looking for a new job since it was a shoplifting misdemeanor does that mean on job applications I have to say yes to being convicted of a felon?
      Dear Jessica: You raise a good question about applications. The exact language on the form is very important. If the question is whether you were “convicted” of a felony, based on what you’ve told us, the answer is no. The shoplifting was handled as a misdemeanor. If you were a minor [under 18] you weren’t “convicted” – you were “adjudicated” delinquent. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • S.N
      Fri, 08 Jan 2010 at 08:12

      HI JUDGE THANKS FOR THE ADVICE I CALLED THE COURT TODAY TO ASK WHEN CAN I COME AND THE TOLD ME ANYTIME BEFORE THE 29TH AND SHE SAID I WOULD BE DOING A FINGER PRINT TEST THAT I WOULD HAVE TO TAKE TO THE POLICE AND NOW IAM SCARED BECAUSE ME AND MY FAMILY SUPPOSE TO BE APPLYING FOR OUR AMERICAN CITIZEN THIS YEAR WOULD THIS EFFECT THAT TO THE POINT OF MY PARENTS FINDING OUT??? AND YEA YOU WAS RIGHT THEY SAID THEY WONT SEND ANYTING TO ME
      Dear S.N.: If you complete the diversion program, assuming it’s available to you, there won’t be a record of the incident. Whether it affects your and your parents’ citizenship application depends on the naturalization process and its requirements. If there is no official record of this incident, it won’t likely come to the attention of immigration officials. Answer all questions on the application truthfully. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • B
      Sun, 10 Jan 2010 at 12:05

      Hi. I was just caught stealing something but the guy walkie talkied my license plate number and then told me to drop what i stole. He then said if I were to get into my car and leave without returning the goods then they would call the police. I basically returned what I had taken (regretfully), and he told me “Don’t come back to my store” and walked off. Is this something I can put behind me now, or should I expect to be contacted? No police were involved at the scene, no information was collected or pictures were taken, no forms or papers were filled. Just that my license plate was read through a walkie talkie just in case I decided to flee the scene without returning the stolen item. Thank you for your help!
      Dear B: It sounds like you lucked out this time. Without identifying information you’re not likely to hear anything further about this. A license plate number doesn’t necessarily connect you to the owner of the car unless it’s the same person. Since you’ve been told not to return to the store, be sure to stay away. Otherwise the store owner can press trespass charges against you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jaylene Reyes
      Sun, 10 Jan 2010 at 02:19

      I am 16 and i got got shoplifting from a store with 79$ worth of clothing. I was arrested and told that I would receive papers in the mail but it has already been two weeks. How long does it take for the papers to come in? How will i know if they dropped charges?
      Dear Jaylene: It is not unusual for a month or so to go by before you hear from the court or the store. If you receive notice from the court to appear, be sure to show up on time. Otherwise, if no shoplifting charge is filed, the store may seek payment of a fine. Pay it on time and the matter will be closed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • S.N
      Sun, 10 Jan 2010 at 04:09

      tHANK YOU SO MUCH YOU’VE BEEN VERY HELPFUL AND MY LAST QUESTION IS THAT DO YOU KNOW IF KHOLS IS GOING TO FINED ME OR THE STATE? IF SO HOW MUCH YOU THINK IT MIGHT BE IF THE ITEM TAKEN TOTAL CAME UP TO 149.99 DOLLARS?
      Dear S.N.: The fine imposed by the court is set by statute and it could be several hundred dollars, with the possibility of additional surcharges. A store’s civil demand is usually several hundred dollars as well. You can call the store’s loss prevention officer and ask.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jaylene Reyes
      Sun, 10 Jan 2010 at 04:13

      About how much should I be expecting to have to pay for the charges/fines ?
      Dear Jaylene: We can’t say because every jurisdiction sets its own figures and oftentimes there are surcharges added on. It also depends on the amount of the items taken.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Justin
      Mon, 11 Jan 2010 at 12:57

      I was caught shoplifting almost $400 worth of merchandise, and i am to go to a court officer tomorrow. What’s going to happen? Will i recieve bigger conseqences because i stole more expensive merchandise?
      Thanks
      Dear Justin: The court officer will explain the process and your options. You may be offered diversion depending on your age and history with the court. Yes, consequences may increase depending on the amount of the theft. Each state differs in classifying crimes and appropriate penalties. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • S.N
      Mon, 11 Jan 2010 at 11:13

      OKAY`TODAY I WENT AND GOT MY FINGERPRINT TOKEN FOR BACKGROUND CHECK AND SHE SAID WITHIN 3 TO 4 WEEKS I WILL GET A SUMMON IN THE MAIL , AND SHE SAID THEN I COULD SEND IN THE BOTTOM PART OF MY CITATION AND TO CHECK GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY WHICH ONE YOU THINK I SHOULD PLEAD??
      Dear S.N.: That is entirely up to you. Askthejudge.info does not provide legal advice to anyone, adult or teenager. Talk with your parents or other person you trust for advice. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jose gonzalez
      Mon, 11 Jan 2010 at 11:20

      i am 16 and my brother is 18 we were both caught shopliffting and this is the first time it happens but idk what happens next? i live in florida
      Dear Jose: There are two possibilities. You may have to appear in court if formal charges are filed. Or the store may choose to handle this by sending you a demand letter requiring payment of a fine to the store. If you end up in court, you may be able to complete a diversion program. That would include work hours, a fine, a class or counseling in return for closing the case and no official record. Your brother’s case may be handled slightly differently since he’s an adult. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Lori
      Tue, 12 Jan 2010 at 12:39

      Hello! I was arreseted for taking groceries from a store a friend posted my bond and i go to court tomorrow what will i get from this i live in Ohio. Thanks
      Dear Lori: Assuming you’re a young adult [18-21] since you said bond was posted for your release, the process will be explained to you when you appear in court. If this is your first offense, you may be offered a diversion program which includes community work hours, a class or counseling, a fine and restitution to the store. You could also be placed on probation. Once all terms are completed you can ask the court to expunge your record. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • parker
      Wed, 13 Jan 2010 at 02:44

      sorry i didnt get a letter for a restitution it was for a Arraignment

      hey its parker again i got a letter in the mail today and its for a Arraignment date. I dont know what to do. will i have to pay a bail? what will happen at the Arraignment and what will happen if i plea no contest?
      im going for what i think is a 1st degree misdemeanour this is my first offence.
      Dear Parker: An arraignment is your first hearing on the shoplifting charge. The charge will be read to you and you’ll be asked how you want to plead, guilty, not guilty, or no contest [which is treated the same as a guilty plea]. You’ll have a chance to speak with a court officer or public defender before you say anything. He or she will explain the process to you, or the judge will. If you’re confused or don’t understand something, say so. You need to understand exactly what you’re doing and the consequences before acting. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • ashley
      Wed, 13 Jan 2010 at 10:28

      okay, i live in texas. i got caught stealing a necklace at a little jewlry store in a mall. the necklace was $11.50. what will be my punishment? and what are they going to ask me in the court room?
      Dear Ashley: If you’re a minor and this is your first offense, you can expect to participate in a diversion program. This means if you complete some community service hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter will be closed. You may also choose to plead not guilty and proceed to trial on the charge. Once you go to court, you’ll have a chance to speak with a court officer or probation officer who will explain the process to you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Megan
      Thu, 14 Jan 2010 at 01:49

      Hey. I was caughy shoplifting at a mall a few days ago. I had $242 worth of stuff. I’m banned from the mall for a period of time and banned from all Dillards stores. They took my information and called the police and since I am 18 I was taken to the police station and they got my picture and prints. I have a court date in a few days but I’m really worried about school and getting a job in the future. I’m a freshman in college and am hoping to follow my dreams in becoming a psychologist. I was wondering how it would affect my school, scholoarships and grants, and if it will stay on my record forever and it would hinder me in getting a job. Please help!!
      Dear Megan: If this is your first offense, although you’re 18, you may be offered a diversion program. That means if you complete some work hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter may be closed without you getting a record. Discuss this possibility with the court officer you’ll meet with at your hearing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kat
      Fri, 15 Jan 2010 at 01:11

      hey im 17, live in texas. me and a friend went to sears last saturday and were caught attempting to shoplift $$800 worth of gold jewelry by LP. it was my idea mostly to try and steal it so i took the blame for most of the items. we were arrested and taken to jail, got finger printed- the works. later i(not my friend cause she got bailed early) was sent to county jail where i spent the rest of the night. later that day(sunday i was bailed and met up with my friend. till today she has been trying to convince me to take all the blame for the crime we BOTH committed, but i told her no because there is proof and witnesses that she is guilty plus she admitted to the officer that arrested us she stole items with me. while in jail someone told me stealing gold jewelry is classified under a felony no matter the value of it. do you think i will still be eligible for an alternative jail sentence, like probation? this is my first offense. thanks for your help:)
      Dear Kat: If, as you say, an alternative sentence means a diversion program, yes it’s possible if your county has such a program for minors. Shoplifting may be a felony depending on the value of the items taken. It’s up to the court and district attorney whether you’re eligible for leniency on a first offense. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • amy
      Sun, 17 Jan 2010 at 10:19

      hello – about four months ago i switched price tags at a tj maxx but did not get caught after buying the item (it was a $5 difference and i did it in the fitting rooms and the clothing area was generally a huge mess). i returned the item because i felt very guilty and bought additional merchandise that i didn’t really need because i felt bad about it. i’ve used my credit card to pay there before so i’m still worried that they might pursue it after all this time? do you think they will? thank you very much for all of your help
      Dear Amy: It’s possible, but after all this time, it’s not likely you’ll hear anything from the police or the store. If you do hear something, explain what you did to resolve the incident and express your apparent remorse. You did the right thing.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • allison
      Mon, 18 Jan 2010 at 10:30

      my friend took some stuff but she took it out of the package and left the trash on the floor she wasent neer any camras so what would happen to her can they pin it on her if she wasent caught
      Dear Allison: Your friend could have been caught on a camera you didn’t see. If so, she may receive a letter in the mail from the store requesting payment of a civil fine. Also, if the store knows her name or a way to identify her, they may report the incident to the police, in which case she may be charged with shoplifting.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Melissa
      Mon, 18 Jan 2010 at 04:10

      What is a citation? I got one in the mail regarding my shoplifting a month ago from the Juvenile Probation Department. What does this mean?
      Dear Melissa: The citation is an order that you appear at the date and place stated. You will meet with a court [probation] officer who will explain the process to you. If this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion. That means if you complete some community work hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter will be closed. Don’t miss your court date. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kristopher
      Mon, 18 Jan 2010 at 07:50

      My roommate works at a store and took costomer gift cards while working there as a cashier. H care took about 4 giftcards that in total added to about $90. He did it a few months go and stopped because he knew it was wrong and now two months later he got caught. What will happen to him. He’s 19 and this is his first offense I guess you can call it. They suspended him from work and said that they’d fax it to the next highest people. He called Human resources and they said it wouldn’t go to court and he wouldn’t go to jail. So what will happen to him? Should he just quit? He already paid his manager the $90. Will it go on his record?
      Dear Kristopher: If the police or courts aren’t involved, he won’t have an official criminal record. The store will likely keep a record of the event, especially if he continues his employment with them and he steals from them again. The store may require that he pay them a fine or some other consequence. It’s up to him and his boss whether to continue working for the store. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • CJM
      Mon, 18 Jan 2010 at 08:16

      My 15 year old son (who overheard some friends say how easy shoplifting was) got caught for the 1st time at Marshall’s in Miami, Fla. The store is in a mall. I was called to the store’s loss prevention office. The LP officer told me they would not call police nor mall security. I asked about court, civil demand, etc. He stated he was only filling out an Incident form, which included my son’s info and my license info for my son’s release to me. He showed me a different form that he could have filled out, which involved paying a civil fine, but because my son was extremely cooperative, he would not take it any further, no letters, no civil fine/demand, etc. My son is not allowed to enter any Marshall stores for 1 year. He IS allowed to be in the mall though. But the LP officer stated there is a retail database for all retail stores & my son’s info would be on file for 7 years, so if he applies for a job or on his college application, he would have to answer YES to Shoplifting. According to one of your previous answers, there is no such database. From the research on Florida law, since my son was not convicted, will not have to go to court or pay a fine, etc. . .he would NOT have to admit to shoplifting on any applications, as there is no record. I do believe the 7 year thing was a scare tactic on the LP officer’s part. My son is extremely worried as he will be applying for a part time job at Publix in January of 2011, and is studying hard to get into college. I don’t want him to be nervous nor am I angry with him, I just want to help him deal with this situation in the proper manner. Any input on your part is very helpful. Thank you.
      Dear CJM: There is no official governmental database for juvenile shoplifters. Private companies exist that keep track of employee theft cases, embezzlement, etc. and some retail stores pay these companies for information before hiring an employee. But these don’t apply to minors. Your son needs to read the questions on every application [college, employment, military etc.] very closely and answer truthfully. In what you have described, he hasn’t been convicted of a crime. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Christina
      Mon, 18 Jan 2010 at 08:55

      Im 19 me and my friend were at walmart and I had put makeup in the shopping cart and she covered it up and then she stole over 500 dollars worth of stuff.I knew she was stealing it but I didnt steal it we both went to jail and got bailed out but its a felony charge, what will happen when I go to court. I dont have a record and i didnt walk out the store with anything I walked out a different door with nothing on me. What will happen when i go to superior court
      Dear Christina: Since it’s your first offense, you may be offered a diversion program. That means if you complete some community service hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the case may be closed. You’ll have a chance when you go to court to speak with a court [probation] officer who will explain the process. You may also plead not guilty and go to trial – it’s your decision. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • CJM
      Mon, 18 Jan 2010 at 10:32

      Thank you very much for your response. Just as an added note, the LP officer said the paperwork went in a file and it was not necessary to give me a copy as they were not going to proceed further. When the time comes for applications, he will be truthful for what has happened. Thank you your Honor, you were most helpful!

    • Jasmina
      Tue, 19 Jan 2010 at 11:55

      Hi Judge,

      You may or may not recall, I wrote here about a month ago. So far, I have paid my civil fines, but am still waiting on the court documents. I plan on applying for a job soon, and my question is, IF I don’t receive the court documents by the time I get an interview, will my employers be able to pull this incident up while doing a background check? If so, I would rather not apply until I am completely sure that it has been cleared off my record.

      I guess my overall question is, if it does get on my record, when, exactly, will my employers be able to pull this information up in a background check? Will they be able to right now, even though I haven’t gotten the court documents? Or would it be there after I’ve gone to court, and am in the process of getting it cleared off? I just need a time frame so that I know when I can apply without this hindering it.
      Thank you.
      Dear Jasmina: Yes, we remember you. You may or may not have a record to worry about. If you don’t go to court on this, there’s no official record. Even if you go, but complete a diversion program, there’s still no official record – it’s been diverted by your completion of the terms. You’ll have to wait and see. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • darianne
      Thu, 21 Jan 2010 at 07:57

      i was at walmart with my friend and i stole some make up…. i didnt get caught but she went back to walmart that night and there was cops there and im really scared… what should i do? if i return it or pay for it can i still get into trouble?
      Dear Darianne: Since you’re asking, we think you know what the right thing to do is, right? You said in a follow-up message that you’re 14, so if this is your first offense, and you returned to the store, returned the goods and apologized, this could be the end of it. There are no guarantees here, but doing what’s right and ethical has its own rewards. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • alexis
      Fri, 22 Jan 2010 at 03:33

      So im 18 and got caught stealing at kmart, no cops were called, the guy said i would get stuff in the mail. All he did was get my ss #, my name, and address, asked a few basic questions and thats it. My total for items stole was $17. Will i go to jail? What will all happen? How long does the stuff in the mail take? Please help.
      Dear Alexis: Since you’re an adult, the store could refer this to the police who could charge you with shoplifting. On the other hand, the store may send you a letter requiring that you pay a fine [civil demand] and the case is then closed upon payment. They’ll keep the information taken at the time for their own records. It could take up to a month before you hear from them. The store cannot send you to jail – only if you’re charged and convicted of a crime does jail become a possibility. Don’t steal again.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • TENNU
      Fri, 22 Jan 2010 at 02:32

      Im 33 years old.I got caught at Kohls in Virginia b4 2 months. It was a Nike shoes sale for $49 but ticket price was around $65. Security took down my information. No cops were called and he said nothing about being banned from Kohls. He just said that I will be getting a fine in the mail from Kohls Headquaters, Wisconsin . Now is this all that’s going to happen? And when he took down my address I completely blanked and forgot to tell him that I wont be at that address for much longer, is there any number or email I could call to change my address, or will they even do it? Please help me, I’m freaking out and I know I did stupid mistake also my all nights are going sleeples .Also I did my change my address at post office.Now it been 8 weeks I havn’t received any letters from them please help me.How do I contact them? HOW SOON I WILL GET A LETTER FROM THEM?What if I don’t received any letter from them?What they do?please help me.
      Dear Tennu: Askthejudge.info is a website for teenagers about the law. We don’t provide legal advice to anyone whether a teen or an adult. You should hear from the store soon if you had your mail forwarded. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Lily Roger
      Sat, 23 Jan 2010 at 02:34

      Hey, I have a question
      What will i get, me and a friend got caught shoplifting from Claire’s, and we are both only 12. What will be the punishment?
      Dear Lily: If this is your first time shoplifting, you may hear from the store asking you to pay a fine by a certain date. Or the store may refer the incident to the police. You may be eligible for a diversion program which means you’d have to do some community service hours, pay a fine, attend class or counseling in return for no formal charges in court. Think twice before doing this again. The consequences increase as you get older and continue to break the law.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Stephanie
      Sat, 23 Jan 2010 at 10:29

      Hi! I was caught shoplifitng at a local Walgreens 6 months ago.Im 20 and live in NYC. I paid a fine straight away, I was not arrested, they just took down my ID and said they use it incase I come back in to check my ID. Will anything else happen to me? Court? anything? Im going to school to become a teacher and Im scared. Im just trying to right my wrongs and so the right thing now. What will happen to me?
      Dear Stephanie: If it’s been six months and you haven’t heard anything from the store, police or a court, then you’re most likely in the clear. The store will keep the information on file about the incident in the event you return and shoplift again. All the best with your teaching career – you have some real life experiences now to share with your students.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • wana_b
      Sat, 23 Jan 2010 at 10:44

      if you do shoplifting and the police don’t get called . how much time do the store have to press charges against the person.
      Dear Wana_b: Every state has its own laws regarding the time to file charges against someone. It’s called a statute of limitations. It may be a year for a misdemeanor offense, and longer for felonies. Google your state’s name, shoplifting and statute of limitations and you’ll be able to read the laws that apply to you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • estefany
      Sun, 24 Jan 2010 at 10:26

      well me and my friend both walked into jc penny and she stole some make-up that i had know idea about and then we went to go try on some clothes and we went into the same fitting room and she put some clothes in her bag and i was whispering her not too but i didnt want to her to get in trouble so i didnt say anything to her then she put the dress that i tryed on in my bag i was scared and told her not to but she convinced me and then we got caught and i didnt go to juvie becaude the dress was under 40 but i would like to know what is going to happen when i go to court im 15 and i have never done anything bad(never been suspended i haven’t even had detention in my life) also i live in houston texas and my friend is 17 so are they going to treat her like an adult
      Dear Estefany: Since this is your first offense, you may be offered a diversion program which means if you complete some work hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter will be closed. Or you could be placed on probation with similar terms. Whether your friend is treated as an adult for this incident depends on her history and how the police/prosecutor choose to handle her case. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Stephanie
      Mon, 25 Jan 2010 at 02:04

      Judge, thank you so much for your advice. I’ve been so worried about the incident for months and months. Its just me or does this type of stuff seem so up in the air, so to speak? For example, I had no idea what would happen to me legally…I was just worried one day I’d get fired from my current job, or the police would show up at my house out of no where. Or i’ll randomly get something in the mail, like a court order? Is this something rational I should worry about? Im probably just being silly, but I really worry about this stuff.
      Dear Stephanie: As you know, anything is possible. But most likely this incident is history if it’s been quiet for six months. All the best.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Stephanie
      Mon, 25 Jan 2010 at 03:22

      Thank you! Yes anything is possible..but for how long can “anything” be possible? (i apologize for all the questions by the way)
      Dear Stephanie: Actually, that’s a good question. Most criminal laws have what is called a ‘statute of limitations” which means there’s only so much time after the incident where charges can be filed against a person. Misdemeanors are usually one year, with longer periods for felonies. Then there are crimes, such as murder and treason, where there is no statute of limitations. There’s no limit on the questions you can ask us – no apology needed.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Stephanie
      Mon, 25 Jan 2010 at 05:18

      Thanks again, haha. So what is considered a misdemeanor? I’m sorry im not fmailiar with a lot of law terms.
      Dear Stephanie: On our home page, enter “misdemeanor” in the Search window [upper right corner] and scroll down to the 12th question. Have fun. -ATJ.info

    • Stephanie
      Mon, 25 Jan 2010 at 07:41

      Hello, if I got caught stealing in California, and they decided to take me to court, is a department store going to be able to look through previous footage and charge me if I was caught stealing then, too? I’m a female minor.
      Dear Stephanie: If the store finds further evidence of additional crimes, they could turn it over to the police to investigate. Additional charges could be filed depending on the circumstances and the applicable laws. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Stephanie
      Tue, 26 Jan 2010 at 05:21

      So it would take 2 years for this to be officially clear in the state of new york? What would they bring me to court for exactly? Like i said I paid the fines and i received a release says i am “hereby released from any statutory civil claims…”
      Dear Stephanie: It sounds like you’ve settled the matter with the store. But criminal charges could always be filed during the statute of limitations period. It’s not likely since the store has apparently chosen not to involve the police. So you can relax.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Chase
      Tue, 26 Jan 2010 at 11:13

      hello, i have friends that have been caught for shoplifting(they only took 1 item worth about $.50 at diffent times). Well they were charged with a misdemeanor, fine, court, community service, etc… Well anyways someone told me that if you get caught stealling something below $.99 you can’t be arrested. Is this true? They are 16 and live in Minnesota(couldnt find anything on Google). Also they were banned from the store ror life, pretty harsh for $.50
      Thank you
      Dear Chase: Every state has its own laws and rules regarding shoplifting and how this crime is handled. By Googling “Minnesota shoplifting laws” you should be able to obtain specific information. It’s not uncommon to be trespassed or banned from a store or mall for a period of time [one year is common]. All the best.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Melissa
      Thu, 28 Jan 2010 at 08:23

      Hello! I was at a local grocery store the other day and bought items. I got in my car and left. My mother received a call from the local police department stating I bagged my own groceries and left (the car is in my mom’s name). I did pay for the groceries, no longer have a receipt and no one stopped me at the store. The police officer says they have video of me taking $150 worth of stuff. What should I do? Do I call the police back?
      Dear Melissa: Askthejudge.info does not provide legal advice. You might consider returning to the store and explain the situation. Find the receipt and take it with you – that should resolve the matter. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Janine
      Fri, 29 Jan 2010 at 08:19

      I was recently caught at the mall (MACYS) stealing merchandise worth $135. they said i have to go to court and i’m really scared. what’s going to happen and what are the consequences for my stupid, immature actions.

      -janine, 14 years old, miami florida
      Dear Janine: If this is your first offense, it’s possible that you will be offered a diversion program. This means that once you successfully complete community service hours, pay a fine/restitution and complete a class or counseling, the matter will be closed and the charges dismissed. If diversion is not an option for you, it is likely that you will face the same consequences as above in addition to being placed on probation. Remember that your penalties will increase for any new offenses committed, so we hope you learned from this incident. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Melissa
      Fri, 29 Jan 2010 at 08:26

      Thank you for your response and so quickly! I do not have my receipt and I have been back to the store. They know me and know I didn’t do it but they said my mom’s car was part of a theft??? And, the police are saying they will tow the car for evidence. This is all very odd. My mom was out of town so unless our car was stolen and we did not know it, we don’t know how to resolve this. The police said they are “just investigating” a theft and the person left in our car. But, the store knows it wasn’t me. Not sure what to do now???
      Dear Melissa: Although you have not been charged with an offense at this point since you have not been cited by the police and have not received a notice in the mail to appear in court, you could consult with a local attorney about the matter who could provide you legal advice and help you decide what to do. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Viet
      Sat, 30 Jan 2010 at 02:34

      I got a question, me and my friend go to Sear and my friend jack some stuff and he put it in my backpack. And he ask me to carry it for him, it was part of my fault that I carry the bag for him. But I didn’t take anything, and later we both got handcuff by the security staff and they will send a letter home to notify when I have to serve court. They also said that if I don’t show up for court I have to serve Juvenile Detention. So my question is that if I show up for court, do I have to serve Juvenile Detention or not?
      Dear Viet: If this is the first time you have been charged with shoplifting, it is very unlikely that you will have to go to juvenile detention. Often the courts and prosecutors will offer some sort of diversion program for first time offenders. This means that if you successfully complete community service hours, pay the fine/restitution and attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed and the charges dismissed. You also may be facing a probationary period. You will have an opportunity to speak with a court officer or probation officer during your first court appearance who can provide more information about what you can expect. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Jess
      Sat, 30 Jan 2010 at 11:10

      I was caught shoplifting at TJ Maxx about 6 months ago. It was only 1 item worth $9.99. I was sure they were going to send me a civil demand notice or something but it’s been so long now and I’ve heard nothing from them.

      I do remember them saying that if I were to go back to the store they were call the police, but my mom is asking me to go with her tomorrow. She doesn’t know about the incident and I do not feel like telling her. Do these people have my picture on file, do you think they will recognize me, and can I get in trouble just by being in the store?
      Dear Jess: If the store told you not to return, then don’t. Once they’ve “trespassed” you, then they may decide to press charges against you if you return. Tell your Mom what happened, face the music and move on. Honesty is always the best way to go. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Manny
      Sun, 31 Jan 2010 at 03:31

      im 18 years old and its my first offense, took me to a little room got my information, cops came and said i have a court date which is not long from now. My question(s) are

      - Is a defense attorney worth it ? Well obviously it is but its just a minor crime, which is serious in a way

      - i stole 48 dollar pants at Macys (CA), i know pretty stupid, couldnt this be reduced to a non-criminal infraction?

      - Whats the odds of me be put into jail? im a college student =/

      - The judge isnt going to question me of who i stole with? Because i was with friends that stole as well

      -Is there anyway i can just plead guilty or no contest and get this over with? Like am i eligible for a diversion?
      Dear Manny: Askthejudge.info does not provide legal advice and cannot tell you whether or not you should hire an attorney or how to plead in court. That is something you will have to decide on your own. Whether you will be given the opportunity to participate in a diversion program will depend on the prosecutor handling your case, the court and whether such a program exists in your county. However, for a first offense, diversion is often an option. This means that you would have to complete community service hours, pay a fine/restitution and attend a class or counseling and the case would be closed and the charges dismissed. Jail time is very unlikely for a first offense. If diversion is not an option and you end up with a record, you can always go back to the court and request your record be expunged or destroyed after successfully completing your sentence. The judge does not usually ask about the facts of the case except when and if you plead guilty at which time the judge hears some facts in order to accept the plea agreement. When you appear for your first court date, more will be explained to you at that time and you will have a better idea of what to expect. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • sam nahar
      Tue, 02 Feb 2010 at 02:53

      i am 17 soon to be 18 this month i jus got caught a few days ago shoplifting with friends now what is gonna happen to me? this is my first time and i hav to go to court on march and i also got fingerprinted and they took photos….pls help me
      Dear Sam: Since this is your first time, you may be offered diversion which means if you complete some community work hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed. Or you could end up in court with similar consequences. The court officer you meet when you go will explain the process to you. You could also plead not guilty and go to trial – that’s your decision. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jay
      Tue, 02 Feb 2010 at 06:43

      I got caught shoplifting today, i took a bag of chips, and as soon as i got outa the store with my friend, the guy yells and tells me to stop, so i stopped. and he ran to me, and i thought he wanted the chips back , so i handed the chips, but instead of grabing the chips he grabbed my collar, and pulled me into the store, i was thrown in the store, and i hit the door while he threw me in there, i wasnt injured but it stinged for a bit, also he told me to empty all my things, and i did, and my backpack also, but there was nothign in there, so then he decideds to take my backpack. and says that i have to call a parent to get it back.
      in there is useless things, but theres my name, and stuff, so do you think he’d go to my school and report me?
      Dear Jay: It’s not likely that he would notify your school. You may receive a letter at home requesting a civil fine that you should pay as soon as possible. Tell your parents what happened and then you can return to the store for your backpack. Hopefully, you’ve learned from this experience. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Rose
      Tue, 02 Feb 2010 at 10:44

      i’m 21 years old & i got caught shoplifting makeup. what will happen to me in court since i am an adult. & is will this stay on my record since i’m a first time offender?
      Dear Rose: Since you’re a first time offender, you may be offered a diversion program where you’ll be required to complete some community service, pay a fine, complete a class or counseling. Once you’ve complied with the terms, the case will be closed. If you end up in court, the same consequences are likely. After a period of time, depending on your state’s laws, you can ask the court to expunge your record. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jessie Hansennn
      Wed, 03 Feb 2010 at 07:33

      im 15, about to be 16, and i steal from walmart sometimes, and i have never gotten caught. im paranoid now for some reason that my parents will get a call and they will find out that i shoplifted. i tried not to let the cameras see me, but i dont know if i was hidden all of the time. is it possible for them to catch me still?
      pleaseee help me!!!
      Dear Jessie: It’s always possible to get caught doing something wrong, whether the cameras are working or not. Since you admit that you continue to steal from the store, with little remorse, it sounds like it’s time to face the music, from both the authorities and your parents. Your luck will run out soon – maybe you should consider working and buying the things you like, rather than stealing them. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jessie Hansennn
      Thu, 04 Feb 2010 at 02:17

      thanks so much for the last response, do you think that if i stop stealing things, then i can just put it behind me and no one will find out?
      Dear Jessie: Yes, you can put it behind you, but there is no guaranty that no one will find out. It’s advisable and the right thing to do to stop – you’ll feel better about yourself in the long run. All the best.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • K
      Thu, 04 Feb 2010 at 09:43

      my friend was arrested a while ago for stealing a bottle of vodka from a grocery store. he was arrested and went to court and everything. he was also 14 at the time. how hard will this make it for him to get into a good college?
      Dear K: Assuming your friend stays out of trouble, with no new offenses, it shouldn’t have any effect on future job or college pursuits. He should check with the court or his probation officer about having his record expunged. He may have to wait until he’s 18 depending on your local laws.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Manuel
      Fri, 05 Feb 2010 at 02:44

      Well basically i got caught shoplifting 48 dollars worth of pants at Macys 2 wks ago, i was taken to a little room and they got all my information and the police came and got my fingerprints and my headshots and interrogated me and (after reading my rights) my two other friends that got caught stealing with me, well basically my friend told the cop that we intended to steal, my other friend kept her mouth shut and when it was my turn i told him that we were there just doing our own thing and that stealing was just a compulsive thing and it wasnt planned out.

      He basically said that my friend and i have two different stories and now im scared to plea not guilty because he might use this against me, so my main question is, does the court or what not can change my 490.5 to a 459? or no? And what are the odds of having this charge be lessened to an infraction or a 415 (disturbing the peace) or even a diversion can be eligible? And when i plea not guilty which i think i might do, i can get a PD and we can resolve the matter in one day? Or do i have to go to another court date?
      im a first time offender
      im 18 yrs old, one is 19 and 18 (i know we’re dumb, we’re all college students that are broke)
      Dear Manuel: Since, as you said, this is your first offense, even though you’re an adult, you may be eligible for a diversion program. Once you go to court, you’ll meet with a court officer who will explain the process to you. Then you decide how you want to proceed. A Public Defender may be appointed to represent you depending on what’s available in your jurisdiction. Discuss your options with him or her before you decide. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Marco
      Sun, 07 Feb 2010 at 12:37

      Dear Judge,
      I have a friend who was having shoplifting issues in the state of Texas, he stole something from a store worth about $90, then he was an idiot and stole something from the same store about a week later worth $150, the second time he got caught, and got put into a first offense program or something like that to get it off his record (Juvenile, he’s 17). Does he have any risk of being charged for the $90 item that he stole a week before he got caught with the $150 item? Like security tapes or something? He’s my best friend and I’ve never seen him this distraught.
      Dear Marco: If he was caught on tape during the first incident, there’s always a chance the store may review their tapes and file charges. It’s their decision. They may choose not to since he’s already in court and completing the diversion program. Hopefully, he’s learned from this experience. All the best.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Gavin
      Sun, 07 Feb 2010 at 12:51

      Recently,
      My friends and I went to Walmart. I stole items that were worth less than 20$ and wasn’t caught. I left before my friends and went to the car and waited for my friends to come out.
      In about 5 minutes most of my friends came out, but not all of them.
      So about an hour or so later, I found out three of my friends got caught shoplifting, and each individual person had less than 20$ of stolen items in them. What will probably happen to them? Two of them are 16, and one is 17, and she was arrested.
      Also, what will happen to me?
      I left the store without being stopped or anything,
      but my friends told me that the Walmart guy said they had me on camera stealing something. I had my Letter Men’s jacket on, so they do have my name. I’m 15 and live in Michigan. Can they do anything?
      I’ve learned my lesson about stealing now, and I’m definitely not going to steal anymore, because I’m extremely worried.
      Dear Gavin: Regarding your friends, if this is their first offense, they may be offered a diversion program. That means if they complete some community work hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter will be closed. If the store studies the tape, identifies you and wants to prosecute, that is their decision. You will be notified by letter to either pay the store a fine, or appear in court. As a letterman at school you have a responsibility as a role model, whether you like it or not. Keep that in mind when tempted again to break the law. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Gavin
      Sun, 07 Feb 2010 at 01:27

      Thank you for the response Judge.
      My friend who is 17, who got arrested, has been arrested 3 other times. Do you think she could get something harsher than a diversion program?
      And for me, how would they be able to contact me?
      Dear Gavin: Your friend may not be eligible for diversion with his record of prior incidents. The process will be explained to him once he goes to court. As far as identifying you, the store or police could contact your school, show then the photo and letterman’s jacket and make an identification. You would then be contacted by the police or receive a summons in the mail to appear in court.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Marco
      Sun, 07 Feb 2010 at 01:47

      They obviously have all his information, or he says they do, and he’ll definitely never do it again, but they would have to be very sure it was he in the first tape, right? Because they wouldn’t want to file charges against an innocent person, or i don’t think so at least. And the longer it goes by, the less of a chance there is he will be caught, right? I can’t imagine they would just scan through past security tapes looking for him. Especially since they apparently searched his info and he had never been to the given store before the $150 incident according to their records.
      Dear Marco: You’re right. They would have to have a positive identification before filing charges. The chances are slim that they would search further into past tapes, but there’s always the possibility.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Marco
      Sun, 07 Feb 2010 at 02:14

      K, good deal. He’ll be relieved to hear it. And I am correct in saying that the longer time goes on, the slimmer the chances are, right?
      Dear Marco: Not necessarily because there’s a statute of limitations that applies to all crimes. That means the state has a year to file charges for misdemeanors and longer for felonies. It’s different in every jurisdiction, you’ll have to check yours. Google your state name, shoplifting and statute of limitations for more details.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Marco
      Sun, 07 Feb 2010 at 03:10

      K. I know what statute of limitations is, I was just referring to logically, they would have to go back farther in time to see them the longer time goes on, and therefor it is probably more unlikely.
      Correct.

    • Marco
      Sun, 07 Feb 2010 at 05:06

      And it would also be tough to I.D. him just from security cameras, right? Especially if he didn’t speak to any salepeople that day.
      Dear Marco: Not necessarily. Cameras and security systems are always improving – so it would depend on the age of their system.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Marco
      Sun, 07 Feb 2010 at 05:35

      K, well one last question, does the fact that while he was being questioned when he was caught shoplifting the $150 item, they checked their records to see if he had done anything like it before, and he hadn’t make a difference? And he doesn’t think they think that he had ever been in the store before.
      Dear Marco: It may make a difference in the way the case is handled. If he’s seen as a first offender, he may be eligible for diversion. If this was a second or third offense, he may face greater consequences – it depends on the laws in your area that apply to shoplifting.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Marco
      Sun, 07 Feb 2010 at 06:15

      And also, if they did press charges on the first one he didn’t get caught for, do you have any idea how much bail would be, or if bail would even be an option?
      Dear Marco: Whether bail is available and the amount is up to your local court and the laws that apply to the case. Every jurisdiction differs on bail amounts and who is eligible for release on bail. In some areas, there is no bail for juveniles unless they’re being tried as adults.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Marco
      Mon, 08 Feb 2010 at 05:01

      K, thanks. I’m going to tell him not to worry, considering like 11 days have gone by since he first shoplifted from the store and about 3 have gone by since then second time and the time he got caught.

    • Marco
      Mon, 08 Feb 2010 at 11:41

      He just told me that supposedly after three months, his record will be wiped clean, does that mean if they filed the charge after 3 months, then it would be considered a first offense again?
      Dear Marco: Not necessarily. He has to look to the laws in his area that apply to shoplifting and the rules of the court. He can contact the court or juvenile probation department and ask for details.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Donna
      Mon, 08 Feb 2010 at 06:53

      Dear Judge,

      My court date is coming up and I’m not sure how to prepare for it. Can you explain to me who/how many people will be there? If it is private? What documents would I have to bring?
      Thank you in advance =]
      Dear Donna: If you are a minor, the process will be explained to you when you first arrive at court. Be a little early if you can. If you received any paperwork in the mail, go over it carefully. It should tell you what to bring. Or you can call the court in advance and ask what to expect when you go. Don’t miss your court date and dress appropriately. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • JAS
      Tue, 09 Feb 2010 at 12:56

      NY shoplifted item $58 first offense
      Dear JAS: If you’re a minor and asking what may happen to you, it depends on the laws in your area and the practice of the court and prosecutor. You may be eligible for a diversion program if one exists. That means you would be required to complete some community service work, pay a fine, or attend a class or counseling. If diversion is not available, and you admit the shoplift, you could be placed on probation with similar terms. You could also plead not guilty and go to trial on the charge. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Gabby
      Wed, 10 Feb 2010 at 12:29

      Dear Judge,

      I recently got caught stealing at a store in California with items adding up to around 30 dollars or so. Since I’m 14, the guy didn’t have to call the police or anything, but I was getting a fee. When I put my address down, I forgot that I’m moving in a week or so. When will I receive my fee? Will they know where to send it even though I’m going to have a new address?
      Dear Gabby: Most likely your Mom or Dad filed a change of address form with the post office. That way, all mail received after you move will be forwarded to your new address. When you get the letter from the store with the fine, make sure you pay it on time and then this matter will be closed. Hopefully, you’ve learned something from this incident. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Katie
      Wed, 10 Feb 2010 at 03:49

      My friend got caught shoplifting, although I don’t know what. He lives in Virginia, and it isn’t his first offense. Getting caught shoplifting, means he violated his probation. He also violated his house arrest, although it wasn’t with the anklet, just his mom monitoring him. He is in Juvy now, until March 1st, thats his court date.
      Any idea on how long he will be in?
      Dear Katie: You said in a second message that he is 15, so since he’s in juvenile court, committed a new offense while on probation, he may be looking at a period of time in detention. It’s entirely up to the judge who knows his history, family situation and psychological needs. Depending on the facts, he could also be setting himself up for commitment to the juvenile department of corrections. All the best.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Charlie
      Thu, 11 Feb 2010 at 02:06

      I have a question for you about background checks. I was arrested at 19 in the state of Wisconsin for stealing a bottle of booze from a Pick and Save. I was fingerprinted and detained for a few hours and was then released. I also admitted to what I had done. I did not have to go to court but I had to pay a fine to the Police Dept. in 30 days. I paid the fine and that was that. My question is will this show up on my background check? If I understand the law correctly I was not convicted because I didn’t go to court. Was the fine Civil Demand, meaning once I pay it my record is cleaned? And also, I am applying for a job as a US Census taker. If this is still on my record will it ruin my chances? Should I just check with the Police Dept?
      Thanks in advance for any response at all.
      Dear Charlie: Since you didn’t go to court, there is probably no official record of the incident with the judicial system. The police could have their own record of it depending on how long they maintain records of non-court cases. It’s best to check with them to see if they have you on file for this incident. Read the questions carefully on the Census application. You weren’t “convicted” of a crime if you weren’t charged and the matter was handled out of court as a civil penalty to the store. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Lawrence
      Thu, 11 Feb 2010 at 05:23

      Me and my bestfriend got caught stealing from wal-mart. We are both 19 and it was our first times stealing. We stole chapstick and when the security caught us he told us that we may be getting a citation in the in about two weeks. Now 3 months later my bestfriend has gotten a letter and we are not sure if it from that. My question is that if it is a citation for that and we pay it will it still show up on our records? We live in CA and we know it was very very very stupid idea to even try it, we both regret it very much. What should we do?
      Dear Lawrence: Once you receive the civil demand from the store, pay it as soon as possible if you admit that you shoplifted the item. If you don’t pay, the store may choose to file charges against you. If you don’t go to court about this, there won’t be an official judicial record of the incident. The store may keep its own records in the event you return and/or steal from them again. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Connie
      Thu, 11 Feb 2010 at 08:11

      We adopted our son when he was 3.Since he has been ten years old,he has been incorrigable.He is almost 18 now,and living with his friends parents.He was caught shoplifting from 2 stores a year ago,and we were fined close to $1000.00 from a Lawyers office who represent the store.(K-Mart)Just recently,the same thing happened.And yes because of Ohio law,we the parents are being fined again.$700.00.I know what the law states about minor children and parental responsibility.Yet I feel that my husband and I are being punished for something we didn’t and wouldn’t ever do.While he merrily goes along with hardly a slap on the hand.What legal rights do we as parents have in a situation like this?If we don’t pay the fines,there could be a civil action put against us.Neither of us have a criminal record of any kind.Moral and decent working folks.Seems so unfair.How about letting the one who did the crime be punished?How can they learn if there are no significant consequences.So frustrating and seems so unfair.The court date is 3 weeks before his 18th birthday.I would think the courts would see this and punish him instead of two people who never would steal anything from anyone.He stole $100.00 worth of things from this store,and we are being fined $700.00? Somethings wrong here.Why are we being punished and why $700.00? Insane.
      To add to the previous post,I think my son may continue to shoplift,knowing nothing will happen to him,and we will be made to pay crazy amounts of money. Revenge in other words.For what I don’t know.He laughed the last time he saw we had to pay and said “Ha! They have to pay!” “Nice” mindset.But that’s on him.Still I think the courts here in Ohio should punish him.Punish anyone who shoplifts.

      To add to the previous post,I think my son may continue to shoplift,knowing nothing will happen to him,and we will be made to pay crazy amounts of money. Revenge in other words.For what I don’t know.He laughed the last time he saw we had to pay and said “Ha! They have to pay!” “Nice” mindset.But that’s on him.Still I think the courts here in Ohio should punish him.Punish anyone who shoplifts.
      Connie
      Dear Ms. Cage: First, you sound aware of your state’s laws regarding parental responsibility over the acts of minors. Every state has a monetary limit that parents are held to unless their child is emancipated under the law. Since your son has a court date, as his parents, you should plan to be there and explain your position to the judge. That won’t necessarily relieve you from financial responsibility but the court may take your position into consideration in handling your son’s case. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jane
      Sat, 13 Feb 2010 at 02:05

      hi im 13 years old and i recently got caught shoplifting from baby blue :( I know i know it was a dumb decision and now im really scared! They told me to give down my number and i gave them a fake one, so when they called my parents they didn’t pick up because it wasn’t the real number. And they took my backpack and said that my dad is going to have to come and pick it up by monday morning, and if he doesn’t, then the will call my school to get my information, and he already knows my name because all my notebooks in my bag have my name on it! But when he goes to the school, there might not be anybody there because its winter vacation. Is it okay if one of my gaudrian calls them saying that it was a mistake and that im only 13 and that i’ll never go in that store again and stuff? Also my parents can’t pick up my bag because they work 7 days a week from 7 in the morning to 9 in the night! Im really scared. I know i was stupid! Do you think they will let me go with a warning since im a minor, and let me get the bag myself? Please help im so scared and i don’t want to go to court or anything because as far as my parents, they just think i lost my bag!
      Dear Jane: Rather than worrying so much about who knows what or who calls whom, the best solution is to tell your parents the truth about what you did and that you made a mistake. They’re most likely going to find out anyway. So face the music and this won’t change your life drastically. Since you’re 13 and this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion which means you’ll have to finish some community work hours, pay a fine or attend a class or counseling in return for a closure of the case. If the court is not involved, the store can ask you to pay a fine. So, either way, your parents will find out about this – the sooner the better, and from you not someone else. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Connie
      Sun, 14 Feb 2010 at 03:07

      It’s real simple and not rocket science kids,if something doesn’t belong to you,you simply should NOT take it.You have no entitlement to it.Pretty basic here.If you choose to steal,you make yourself a thief.You cannot blame anyone or anything else for your choices.You made the choices,you own them.No one gives you permission to steal,but yourselves.”Thief” what a label to have laid upon you from your own choices.Yes,we all make mistakes and we either learn from them or we don’t.In my opinion,what is long term consequences of theft is getting trust back from people.People that matter to you.Stealing goes right along with lying.Hand in hand.Would you like to be stolen from? No. Why is that? Because it’s your stuff,and no one has a right to it but you.Just like you have no right to steal from anyone.You lie and steal,there will be no trust.Rightly so.Trust is not given,it is earned.Young people,the world doesn’t owe you a dang thing!The world doesn’t revolve around you.Nor around me.It doesn’t owe me anything either.What you want, you have to,or should work hard for.Nothing is going to be handed to you.And it’s not yours to take.This mindset nowadays of instant gratification is really childish and selfish.I mean is what you steal worth all the consequences?And there always will be consequences.Not just from the stores stolen from,but legally.Court dates,probations,ankle monitoring,facing a Judge,your squashed reputation,how you feel about yourselves,your parents have to pay money and they did nothing wrong.And,having a record.You do this at 17 or 18,(According to what state you live in and are declared legally an adult)your going to jail.It is what it is.And you’ll have no one to blame but yourselves.Your futures are all coming up.You all have a chace to shine! You have a theft record,who is going to hire you? You want a job that includes saying “You want fries with that or do you want this meal supersized?” 300 times a day the rest of your life? Probably not.I know young people can be impulsive,but you need to start thinking about what will or could happen.In my life,I have found something that works for me,and that is “Doubt means don’t.” If you question & doubt doing something or saying something,chances are real high you should not do or say it.Think about making the right choices.Let’s get real,you all know what the right choices are.If someone is asking you to steal,a so called “friend”…..just tell them “No”. After all,if you steal for someone else,chances are high you get caught,and they go on their merry way.And your in handcuffs going off to jail.You all know right from wrong,and good from bad.Be a person who can hold their heads up high, because they are honest,have a strong work ethic,treat people the way you want to be treated. Life is too short for all this nonscense and foolishness.Truly it is.Become a person of integrity.Learn from these lessons and do not repeat them again.I know I probably sound like your Mom.And that’s OK.Because I am a Mom.The only person your hurting is yourself.
      Dear Connie: Thank you for your comments.

    • shawn
      Mon, 15 Feb 2010 at 01:28

      I am 23..I may have the worst case ever..a couple of months ago I got caught shoplifting no police were involved, I was banned and paid the civil fine thing and that was the end of it. Just recently, I don’t know why I did it but I shoplifted again (and this is the last time i totally learned my lesson and I am completely ashamed of myself I WILL NEVER DO IT AGAIN..) But i went into a store tole a couple of items that were less than $30, but i bought stuff with a debit card..the lp person caught me and took me in the back ask for some information and i was so scared out of my mind that i would be put in jail so i lied abut my age (BAD IDEA I KNOW I WASN’T THINKING)..i didn’t give the lp person an id or my drivers license number so my mom came they asked for my age my mom gave them a fake birthday and they wrote down my address and my moms id. The lp person was very understanding and nice and she just had me banned from the store and a letter in the mail later and let me go..Now, my question is..there any possible way i could get caught lying? I AM SOO SORRY I WILL NEVER DO IT AGAIN! =(=(
      Dear Shawn: It’s possible they could discover the truth regarding your age and birth date. If they do, fess up and do the right thing. You sound remorseful about this incident so don’t make it worse by lying again. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Alex
      Mon, 15 Feb 2010 at 09:45

      Hi I am 15 and recently got caught shoplifting at a Kmart. They didnt prosecute me because all I had was a pair of $15 dollar headphones (According to there policy its not a high enough amount to prosecute)They took down my information and called my mom. We now have to pay a $200 dollar fine. They said this incident will not go on a criminal record but stores such as sears and other kmarts will be able to see the file. What other stores can see this file and will this affect my ability to get a job at a store such as publix or Dillards? Also lets say I would of ran when they caught me (They caught me right out of the store door) Are they legally allowed to chase me and tackle me down because I am only 15? Also lets say I ran into a store and said these men are trying to kidnap me. Do you think I would have a good chance of getting away?
      Thanks in advanced -Alex
      Dear Alex: This incident shouldn’t affect future employment opportunities. You don’t have a criminal record, but stay away from the store or next time they could file trespassing charges against you. About tackling you during a chase, you’ll have to look to local law regarding store security and their authority. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Connie
      Tue, 16 Feb 2010 at 07:36

      Alex,
      You sound as if all your sorry for is that you got caught.

      And Shawn,with the technology that is out today,it is highly possible they would find your real birth date and age.Skip tracing and all.I’m shocked that your Mom would lie too..

    • Amy
      Thu, 18 Feb 2010 at 07:30

      Hi. I’m 19 years old. I got caught shoplifting at a Walmart in Georgia. The merchandise was $34 total. I was arrested and bailed out 8 hours later. I have court on April 1. This is my first offense (I’ve only gotten traffic tickets before this). I’m also in college. Both of my parents are currently unemployed, and I work part-time in fast-food.

      I know community service and restitution should be expected, but all I care about is getting my record cleared. I’ve heard about the diversion program, but I have no idea how that works. I also don’t have a lot of money for a lawyer ($500 maybe). I can’t let this affect my future employment. Please help!
      Dear Amy: Since this is your first offense, you may be eligible for a diversion program if it exists in your area. If it does and you’re offered this as a way to handle this charge, it will mean you’ll have to complete work hours, pay a fine, complete a class or counseling in return for a closed case and no formal record of the incident. This won’t be allowed for a second offense, however. This shouldn’t affect your future education or employment plans if all terms are completed on time. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Mel
      Thu, 18 Feb 2010 at 10:04

      me and two other friends of mine were caught shoplifting @target. our ages are 14, 17, and 17. the 14 year old girl stole items that were about $30 while me and my other friend stole items worth $50 in total. The security got us and sent us to the room where they got our information. they also called the police and we were sent to the police station. they got our finger prints and info, called our parents and had them pick us up. they notified us that we were going to be getting a mail notifying us about the court date. does this mean that target is pressing charges against us in addition to the fine? we live in newark, ca btw.
      Dear Mel: It could mean that Target is pressing charges and the process will be explained to you when you go to court. Or it could mean that you’ll be offered a diversion program through the court. For first time offenders, diversion is common. Once you complete some community service hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter is closed. Don’t miss your court date. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kim
      Thu, 18 Feb 2010 at 10:17

      I was recently caught for shoplifting in nyc . i am not a
      US resident . i am her eon F1 visa . What will happent o me ?
      Dear Kim: Depending on your age and whether this is a first offense, you may be offered diversion. That means if you complete some community service hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter will be closed. You may be eligible for the same program if you’re over 18 if New York City has a diversion alternative. If the value of the items taken is low, this incident shouldn’t affect your status with Immigration. Repeat offenses may, however, result in deportation. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Heidi
      Fri, 19 Feb 2010 at 01:25

      Dear Tom,
      Today I was caught shoplifting at Sears in the state of Washington. It totaled up to $70 something. I am currently 17 years old, about to be 18 in less than a month. When I got caught, police was called in to ask for my id, address, etc. My mom came, signed a few papers and we were let go with information about court and what not coming in the mail later. Couple months ago, I had a case that I got deferred ($150 fee, and I can’t get things deferred anymore for another 7 years).
      Will my high school be informed of this? (Will I get kicked out, etc)
      Will the colleges I applied to, be informed of this?
      Will I have trouble receiving scholarship or any loans because of this?
      Will I have trouble finding a job after this?
      Will this show up on my record?
      What are the consequences that I will have to face?
      I’ve learned my lesson, and I am most sorry for my mom who had to go through this and be in pain all because of my idiotic actions. I’m never doing this again.
      Please inform me in any kind of way that you can.
      Thank you.
      Dear Heidi: You state that this is your first offense but that a few months ago you had another matter that was deferred. That may be why you’re going to court this time. Either way, the process, including your options, will be explained to you at court. You may be offered diversion depending on your first offense and whether you complied with the terms. Schools don’t normally find out about shoplifting incidents and this shouldn’t affect college or job opportunities in the future. Read any application you’re filling out very carefully and answer truthfully. If you’re in juvenile court for these offenses and are either diverted or you admit to the charge and are found delinquent, you haven’t been “convicted” of a crime. Discuss this with the court officer you’ll meet when you go. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

      Heidi.

    • Mel
      Fri, 19 Feb 2010 at 10:03

      do they normally bring videos of you stealing in court? if they catch you from previous videos, can they bring that up and charge you more money?
      Dear Mel: Videos that have caught you in the act could be used in court, but generally are used only if the case goes to trial. In other words, if you plead not guilty and a trial is set, the prosecutor may obtain the tapes from the store and attempt to use them as evidence of the crime. If there are additional videos of you shoplifting on other dates, the police and prosecutor could review them and consider new charges. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jj
      Sat, 20 Feb 2010 at 01:47

      Hi. Im 19 and was caught shoplifting with a friend. The amount of the items I stole was $120. Im completely mortified. Sadly, I had been in the same store a week before and stolen items but didn’t get caught. Can they go back and review tapes and charge me for that? Also, what do you think my sentencing would be? This is my first offence…would I go to jail? I live in los angeles california if that’s any help. Once again i am completely ashamed. I can’t bare to see the look of dissapointment on my parents faces again. :’(
      Dear JJ: The store may review earlier tapes and if you’re seen shoplifting, they could tell the police. Additional charges may be filed by the prosecutor. As an adult and a first offender, you may be placed on probation with terms including community service hours, a fine, restitution to the store, a class or counseling. Don’t give in to temptation – the consequences increase as you reoffend. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jj
      Sat, 20 Feb 2010 at 01:58

      Im not sure if my question got approved. But im 19 and was caught with a friend shoplifting. My amount was $120 worth of stolen items. I deeply regret it. This happened yesterday and I haven’t been able to eat or sleep. Sadly, I had stolen items a week before but didn’t get caught. Would they go back and look at videos and even though they didn’t catch me would they still charge me? Also, this is my first offence, will I go to jail? I live in los angeles california if its makes a difference. and I can’t afford a lawyer, do I have to get one? And should I plead guilty? I mean I know I did it :( I really won’t ever do this again…couldn’t stand the dissapointment for my parents…
      Dear JJ: It is unlikely that you will go to jail, but remember anything is possible. It depends on the law in this case, the judge and prosecutor, your history, etc. The court may give you a lawyer when you appear for your hearing. The process will be explained to you at court. Discuss your options with your lawyer and then decide how you want to proceed. Pleading guilty is entirely up to you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jj
      Sat, 20 Feb 2010 at 03:59

      sorry again. i was also wondering if i am qualified for a public defender. i dont have a job and i dont go to school. are my parents accountable for hiring a laywer for me since im living under their roof and they will pay for all other fees?
      Dear JJ: The assignment and availability of a public defender depends on the resources in your community. Not all jurisdictions have a public defender’s office. And assignment depends on your income and parent’s ability to hire an attorney for you. You can find out more about this when you go to court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jj
      Sun, 21 Feb 2010 at 02:28

      So if they suspect that I was shoplifting the previous time before I got caught and they press more charges, will I be notified of the added charges?
      JJ: Absolutely. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that everyone, including teenagers, be notified of any charges filed against them and an opportunity to be heard by the court. If you’re charged with the earlier shoplifting, it could be considered a second offense depending on the criminal laws in your state. Two offenses on two separate dates may be treated as one conviction or two depending on a number of factors. Discuss these with your probation officer or attorney.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jj
      Mon, 22 Feb 2010 at 12:49

      But how exactly could they prove if I was shoplifting if they didn’t catch it in my possesion? And as for notifying me of additional charges, how would that work? Would they send me something in the mail? Sorry for all the questions but I have been able to eat or sleep, I am really sorry
      Dear JJ: Proving that a crime has been committed is different from charging someone. The state has to prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. This means they need strong evidence that you shoplifted. The exact details of the incident must be shown in court and that’s something you would discuss with your lawyer if you decided to plead not guilty. If they decide to pursue this any further, the prosecutor may ask the police to find you so you can be notified. You could receive notice by mail or be personally served with papers. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jj
      Mon, 22 Feb 2010 at 05:38

      ok im asking too many questions now…im scheduled for jury duty tomorrow, however, when i filled out the questionaire it was before the shoplifting incident. what do i do? still go?
      Dear JJ: Yes, still go, otherwise you may not like the consequences for not showing up. Explain the situation to the jury commissioner when you get there. Ask if it’s necessary to update the form regarding incidents since you completed it.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Caitlyn
      Mon, 22 Feb 2010 at 07:34

      I’m 15 years old and got caught shoplifting around $40 worth of merchandise. It was my first time. I returned all of the merchandise and went to see the clerk magistrate. We also recieved a fine in the mail for 250 dollars that my mom didn’t pay yet because she thought we should hear the verdict beforehand. The clerk magistrate dropped my charge. Soon we recieved 2 more letters saying we had a fine for 500 dollars. My mom refuses to pay that big of a fine for a misdemeanor. I understand that I should pay for it, but I don’t have a job because jobs for my age are seasonal here. When I am able to earn the money i’d be 100 percent willing to pay my mom back, but she won’t pay it. I want to know that if my mom refuses to pay, can I get in trouble for it? Also, would this effect my ability to get a normal part time job?
      Dear Caitlyn: In most states, there are two consequences for shoplifting. First is civil, meaning the store can impose what is called a “civil demand” against you. The letter requesting the $250.00 from the store was the civil resolution of the offense. The second part is a formal charge filed with a court – the criminal aspect of the incident. You said the court dismissed it, so what’s left is your obligation to pay the demand – it may be up to $500 now because the statute may allow a higher amount for nonpayment. It shouldn’t have any affect on your job applications since you were convicted or adjudicated of shoplifting. The fine needs to be paid asap or it may increase again. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Heather
      Mon, 22 Feb 2010 at 07:42

      Hello Judge November 4 2009 me and my fiend stole a purse bag full of thigs like candles, clothes, decorations from Kohls in Ohio. A security personel asked us to come back into the store. I recieved the civil demand of 200.00 and I paid it in January. The security guy took our pictures posted a ban from the store for life.the police was called and took a report then let us go. Me and my Friend Havent heard anything else from Kohls or the counties court. What should I expect now that its almost March and havent heard anything yet? Thanks for your Help.
      Dear Heather: Depending on your location and the volume of cases filed in your county, you may be in the clear. If the state was going to file shoplifting charges against you, it would have happened by now. Unless your local district attorney is backed up with cases. There is usually a year in which they can file the charge – it’s called a statute of limitations setting a time period to file – usually a year for misdemeanors and longer for felonies. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Heather
      Tue, 23 Feb 2010 at 10:48

      Thank You Judge for your information given. Blessings

    • james
      Tue, 23 Feb 2010 at 06:15

      I was caught taking a DVD 0ut 0f a case and I waIked 0ut with it. This is my first time steaIing and I did s0 intenti0naIIy because I feIt that WaIMart and KMart are the 1s steaIing fr0m pe0pIe in f0regn c0untries.

      Anyway, I g0t caught and I understand that I have 2 pay 4 the item. WHat I’m w0ndering is that is it IawfuI f0r me 2 have 2 pay f0r the item and nt get the item…I returned the item 2 the pers0n wh0 caught me. S0 I have 2 pay f0r it and they get 2 keep it?
      Dear James: Most states have civil statutes allowing retailers to seek what is called a “civil demand” from anyone who shoplifts from their establishment. The amounts vary but may be in the hundreds of dollars. If unpaid, they may choose to file formal charges against the thief. This holds true whether the item taken is returned or not. If removed from the original packaging, they may not be able to place it back on the shelf as a new item for the original price. Furthermore, your political beliefs don’t justify breaking the law. Try explaining your reasoning to the judge and see how far it gets you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Janee
      Wed, 24 Feb 2010 at 06:21

      Last August I was caught internal shoplifting of $165. The police were called and wrote me a citation BUT I payed my restitution that same day with a money order. Later maybe two weeks later the lp guy went and dropped all charges against me and I did not have to go to court. I was never charged for the crime in front of a judge so I wanted to kno because the police filed a citation would this appear on my background check for my employer to see?
      Dear Janee: Every jurisdiction handles shoplifting cases differently. You don’t have an official “record” since you weren’t charged with a crime or go to court. Your case was handled through a “civil demand” and you paid the fine. Depending on where you apply for a job and your police department policies regarding record keeping, there may be a note in a file about this incident. Check with the police involved to see how they handle these cases. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Dolly
      Wed, 24 Feb 2010 at 06:58

      me (24) and a friend (19) got caught shoplifting in Arkansas (we live in Missouri) from JcPenny. we are now banned from the store. we were arrested and taken to jail. bonded out. and have to appear in court on March 8th. This is our first time offense. Everything i’m reading online is saying we can be sentenced to up to a year in jail. i’m really hoping that does not happen. what is most likely to happen in court? should we get a lawyer?
      Dear Dolly: The year in jail is probably the maximum sentence available to the court. You’re not likely to receive this as it’s your first offense. You may be offered diversion which means that upon completion of community work hours, payment of a fine, restitution to the store, a class or counseling, the matter will be closed. Or if you plead guilty, the same consequences may be imposed. The process will be explained to you when you go to court and then you can decide whether you need a lawyer or not. Don’t miss your court date and dress appropriately. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Polly
      Wed, 24 Feb 2010 at 09:11

      I was arrested a little over a month ago for shoplifting. i was put on probation and had to pay fines. Yesterday i was caught again. I go to school full time and applied for a job. What are the chances of me going to jail? i have learned my lesson and know i will never shop lift again
      Dear Polly: Depending on your age and whether you’re a juvenile or not, you could spend some time in detention. You not only broke the law again, but you violated your probation. The judge may want to up the consequences with a stint in lock-up. Of course, it’s entirely up to the court. If you continue to steal, the length of time in jail will increase. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Polly
      Wed, 24 Feb 2010 at 10:07

      I was arrested a little over a month ago for shoplifting. i was put on probation and had to pay fines. Yesterday i was caught again. I go to school full time and applied for a job. What are the chances of me going to jail? i have learned my lesson and know i will never shop lift again. im 18
      Dear Polly: Since this is your second offense in a short period of time and you’re already on probation, the judge may decide to give you a taste of what it’s like to lose your freedom. It depends on the facts of the incident, the judge assigned to your case, and what the prosecutor will be recommending as a penalty. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Dolly
      Wed, 24 Feb 2010 at 10:34

      thanks for your advice.

    • vic
      Wed, 24 Feb 2010 at 11:20

      Im pretty sure i got caught stealing.I went to supermarket to get a couple of things and i ended up stealing something(small worth $6)i dont know why but i just did(stupid right). I soon as i was finishing paying at the register for my other things i had. two people that looked like manager or the Lp came, but didt say anything to me but just kept staring at me and talking amongs themselfs.So i grab my things and leftthe store,got in my car and left.They did’t chase me or anything..Can i still get in trouble?
      Dear Vic: It’s possible that you could receive a letter in the mail notifying you of a fine. But not likely since they have no identifying information from you other than the license number on the car. This still wouldn’t necessarily lead them to you if it was a borrowed car, for example. You might consider returning the item and apologizing – which would be the right thing to do in this case. Don’t steal again – you may not be so lucky next time. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • mariah.
      Thu, 25 Feb 2010 at 03:35

      Hello, i am 15 years old.& i recently got caught stealing from wal mart. it was the first time i have ever got stealing before, & the first time i have ever been in trouble with the law. My spring break is coming up in a few weeks, i have plans to go to texas with my friend. (the friend who i got caught stealing with & she is 18.) Someone had mentioned to me, that i might not be able to go to texas or leave the state at all without a gaurdian because of the trouble i had got into. i was wondering if this is true?
      Dear Mariah: It may be true depending on the circumstances of your situation. First thing to consider is the law of your state. As a minor, it may restrict your travel until this incident is resolved. If you were formally charged with shoplifting, any court orders regarding your release must be followed. Even if there are no outstanding orders limiting your travel out of state, then you still need your parents’ or guardian’s permission to go. Considering this 18-year-old was your accomplice in the shoplifting, your parents may not approve a trip with her. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Mel
      Thu, 25 Feb 2010 at 07:53

      So a couple of weeks ago, me and 2 other friends went to store and started ripping the security tags off,(damaged the clothing) as soon as we left the store we got caught. This is my first time i EVER done such, one of my friends has been seen doing the same thing but never caught, and my other friend has been involved in a situation where he/she was with someone who stole something and they both got caught she was given a warning. Does this mean, since i was caught committing a crime with these two people the consequances will be worse, i feel so horrible. I cant seem to look in the mirror and see the person i use to be. I live in Toronto Ontario Canada, and the amount of stolen goods in my bag added up to $380 ( theft under $5000) Should i call the store and apologize, even though it was a couple weeks ago? i really want to, but at this stage i dont know, im scared and regret everything i did. We were given a ban which restricted us from going back to that mall for a year.
      what are the possible outcomes?
      Dear Mel: The consequences depend on whether you’re going to court or not, and whether you’ll be charged with shoplifting or theft. If not, then be sure to stay away from the mall forthe year. Otherwise, you may be charged with trespassing since you’ve been warned not to return. Your local court may have a diversion program for first time offenders. If so and you’re eligible, you’ll have to complete some community work hours, pay a fine or restitution to the store, attend a class or counseling. Then the matter will be closed. It’s your decision about apologizing to the store. If you end up in court and admit to the theft, you can do it then. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Danny
      Fri, 26 Feb 2010 at 01:33

      HELP! ok check this out. I wanted to play a prank on my golf fanatic friend. He hates titleist balls so for his birthday I was going to buy him titleist balls, but have them in a different golf ball box. (he’ll think I got him bridgestone, but SURPRISE.. Titleist!)
      Soooo… I went to WALMART, and switched the lids of the golf balls to disguise the titleist balls. The product rung up bridgestone, but inside were tietlist. Nothing was broken or opened. I simply slid the lids off and swapped them. The difference was $3 on the $29 product!!!!!!
      LOST PREVENTIONS stopped me before exiting the store, reached in my bag and confirmed that I had switch tops.
      I explained that my intention was not to shoplift, but to disguise these balls and play a prank on a buddy.
      They took all my info down, took my picture, and said I would get a letter in the mail and pay a fine. FOR $3!!!! And I wasn’t really shoplifting.
      Is there anything I can do???? I don’t want to pay a fine, or have my face in WALMART computers.
      Dear Danny: The bottom line here is that stealing is stealing. You admit obtaining an item from the store for $3.00 less than its value by switching the lids. So the store loses three dollars on your transaction. Whether it’s classified under the criminal laws of your state as theft, shoplifting or larceny, it’s illegal. You’re lucky if the store decides not to prosecute but only seeks a civil fine from you. Next time you may be explaining the situation to a judge. Pranks sometime backfire, as you have learned. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • amanda
      Fri, 26 Feb 2010 at 01:57

      Hi Judge, 2 days ago i got caught shoplifting at tj maxx. i am 21 and live in new york. it was my first time stealing and i really regret doing it. i took something about $4.99 dollars worth. Lp guy put me into a room and i returned item and answered all questions honestly. since i was cooperating, they released me, they didn’t call the police. they didn’t tell me have to pay any fine or go to court. they just got my name address and other information.They said the paper work will stay in the store. i’m still allowed to go to the store but they will watch me. But I am still worried,i am really scared that this incident is gonna come back to haunt me. please help, im really freaking out, i wish i had never done it.
      Dear Amanda: You have the right attitude about what you did. Hopefully this lesson will stay with you. If the store just keeps its own record of the incident without notifying the police, it shouldn’t have any affect on your future [jobs, education, military etc]. However, if you return to the store and shoplift again, the outcome will likely be different. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Katie
      Fri, 26 Feb 2010 at 11:20

      I’m 17 years old and I turn 18 in about 2 months. I live in ohio and was recently caught shoplifting. I was taken back into a room and a police officer was called and I had to call my parents to come pick me up. The only thing the police officer did was write up a report and give me a court date and then I went home with my parents. I am an all A student, recetnly admitted to OSU, and a member of the national honor society. What are some punishments that I may get? I have never had any problems with the law before. I personally only took 3 dollars worth of stuff but my friend took about 50 and They said they were going to lump the sums together. I’m just really confused and scared.
      Dear Katie: Since this is your first offense, you may be offered a diversion program when you go to court. Upon completion of community service hours, payment of a fine and/or restitution to the store, attending a class or counseling session, the matter will be closed. The process will be explained to you by a court/probation officer. It shouldn’t have an affect on your education or employment plans, but if you repeat this behavior, it will impact your future. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • amanda
      Fri, 26 Feb 2010 at 11:31

      Hi again,thanks for your advise. I have one more question,
      they didn’t tell me to expect a letter in mail (civil fine, press charged..) should i worry about it? thanks
      Dear Amanda: You’ll either receive what is called a “civil demand” letter in the mail or not. If you do, pay it on time if you’re admitting the incident. Otherwise, the store may pursue charges through the court and you can have a trial on the shoplifting charge. If you don’t receive anything in the mail, the matter is likely closed and only on record with the store.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Katie
      Fri, 26 Feb 2010 at 02:02

      hi this is a followup question to the other one i asked today. you said i MAY be offered a diversion program? what is the other thing that could happen if I don’t get offered that?
      Dear Katie: If diversion is not available in your area or it’s not offered, then you have to decide whether to admit or deny the charge. If you deny it, then a trial will be set. You can discuss these options with the court and/or your lawyer. The court may appoint one to represent you depending on a number of factors that the court will explain to you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Mary
      Fri, 26 Feb 2010 at 09:35

      I shoplifted from Forever 21 when I was 17 years old. I only took a ring that was probably $5.00. I was fined and I paid the fine by the time I was supposed to. Is this considered a felony or not?
      Dear Mary: It depends on the laws of the state you were in, but it was most likely a misdemeanor not a felony. If you kept any paperwork or court documents from the incident, it might state the classification of the offense. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • marie
      Fri, 26 Feb 2010 at 10:16

      I got caught shoplifting from a store in Maryland I am ib my 20s. I dont know why did I make that foolish decision. the police were called they took my info and gave me a citation said to wait for a court date. should I hire a lawyer now. What should I expect. Is it going to stay on my record. will i be terminated from my job. I am trying to get into a nursing program. I do not know what to do.
      Dear Marie: You may not need a lawyer until you receive a notice to appear in court. Once you go, the process will be explained to you by a court/probation officer. If this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion. That means if you complete some work hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling the matter will be closed. At some point in the future, you may be able to apply for an expungement of your record. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • tania
      Sat, 27 Feb 2010 at 01:45

      my bf got cought shoplifting and he dosent have papers and doesnt want to go to court what can happen to him hes planing to go back to his country befor court date?? this is his first time going to court thanks
      Dear Tania: If he misses his court date, the court may issue a warrant for his arrest. If he leaves the country the warrant may remain outstanding. That means if he returns to the court’s jurisdiction, he may be arrested on the warrant and brought before the court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Leslie
      Sat, 27 Feb 2010 at 10:25

      The other day my friend and I got caught shoplifting from walmart in ohio. We’re both 17 and will be 18 in about 2 months. I only had 10 dollars worth of stuff in my purse but she about about 60. They said that they were going to combine it. We gave back all the stuff but I forgot to give back one thing. Later they asked me if the thing I forgot to give back was mine. I said it was and they asked my parents and they said it was mine too. They let me leave with my parents. I just realized that The thing wasn’t mine and that I took it. Can I get in more trouble for this? What should I do about it? I have a court date in March and I have no idea whats going to happen. I’m an all A student and in 2 sports and various clubs. Can I get in more trouble for accidently not giving it back or will they even bring it up since my parents said it was mine?
      Dear Leslie: Now that you realize that the item is not yours and was taken from the store, tell your parents. Then you can decide how to proceed. Your parents may agree with fessing up now by advising the sore or waiting until you go to court to explain what happened. Either way, the truth about the incident and exactly what was taken, should be revealed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • marie
      Mon, 01 Mar 2010 at 02:14

      I went to see a lawyer this morning regarding my case. he told me that he may be able to stop this from getting on my record, but not certain. I can
      t sleep at night,I dont know if he can stop it from going to my record.
      Dear Marie: Trust that your lawyer will do everything he can that’s in your best interests. If unsuccessful ask him what can be done at a later time and what the process involves. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • amanda
      Mon, 01 Mar 2010 at 10:33

      Hi Judge,
      I posted a question on last fri ,26 Feb
      (i apologize for all the questions by the way)
      Can the store make a police report after shoplifter leaves the scene?
      I am still very worry about it, can i contact LP department of the store to find out?
      Thank you!
      Dear Amanda: Yes, a store can file a report after the person leaves the store, and the police may follow up with their investigation if they choose to do so. Feel free to contact the store if you’re worried – some would choose to leave things the way they are and not rock the boat, but it’s your decision. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • amanda
      Wed, 03 Mar 2010 at 01:21

      Hi judge, thanks for your advise, how do you know if the store file a report to the police? how long it takes? because i am going on a trip, so i am a little bit worry.
      Dear Amanda: You’ll know if you are served with papers telling you to appear in court, or if the police contact you during their investigation. It could take as long as a year, depending on your state’s statute of limitations regarding misdemeanors.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • marie
      Wed, 03 Mar 2010 at 12:53

      can my lawyer help dismiss my case. and how long can it take to get a court date.
      Dear Marie: If you have a lawyer, ask him or her these questions. He should know the rules that apply to your case and whether there are grounds to file a motion to dismiss. He can also tell you when to expect a date for the hearing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Charlene
      Wed, 03 Mar 2010 at 04:07

      My friend and I went shopping and he got caught stealing I got a ticket for shoplifting as well just because I was with him..when I went to court they offered me diversion classes..when i take those does the shoplifting remain on my record or what happens to it?
      Dear Charlene: Once you complete all terms of diversion, the matter should be closed. Since you were “diverted” away from the judicial process [formal charges and prosecution], there should be no record of the incident except with the store. The court may keep a note indicating that you’ve been through diversion so it’s not offered again. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Megan
      Wed, 03 Mar 2010 at 11:33

      So i got caught stealing four shirts at TJ MAX. Im 17 and turning 18 in a month. My mom was brought and so were the police. They gave us a case number and said i should be getting something in the mail. I confessed to stealing somthing before at Target so i was told to return that. What kind of trouble do you think I will be in? I have had a MIC earlier that summer too and thats the first trouble i have ever been in..
      Dear Megan: When you receive the letter and you agree to admit the shoplifting, follow the instructions immediately. You may be offered diversion meaning that upon completion of community work hours, payment of a fine or restitution to the store, a class or counseling, the case will be closed. Otherwise you can plead not guilty and go to trial – it’s your decision. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • M Wilson
      Thu, 04 Mar 2010 at 01:00

      Hi,

      About 2 years ago I was caught shoplifting and was trespassed. Nothing more came of it– I wasn’t charged, did not have to go to court, etc.
      My question is: Will this show up on a background check?
      Dear M. Wilson: Based on what you’ve stated, it shouldn’t show up anywhere except in the store’s records. If they didn’t notify the police then there shouldn’t be an official record of the incident.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Gina
      Thu, 04 Mar 2010 at 06:19

      I am 17 and I live in Illinois. My friend and I just got caught shopping in Kolhs. Half of the items were put on my fault because I “aided” so all together it added up to nearly $200. I got prosecuted and my mom had to pick me up from the police station. I do not have to go to court, I only have to take a class. It was my first offense so they said they were going easy on me. How much will this affect my chances of getting into a good college and a job? Also is this considered a felony or a misdemeanor, I wasn’t told.
      Dear Gina: Since you weren’t given a court date or formally charged with shoplifting, you won’t have a “record” that will be provided colleges, future employers, etc. The only record will be with the store in the event you return and steal from them again, and with the police department. Complete the class on time and think twice before giving in to temptation again. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • M Wilson
      Fri, 05 Mar 2010 at 04:51

      Hi again,

      They did in fact call the police. It was a police man who wrote the “tresspass” document up. That is why I am worried it will show up. I would think that it wouldn’t since I wasn’t charged and didn’t have to go to court.

      When I stole from the store, I was unfortunately under the influence of Oxycontin. I no longer use drugs anymore though, and am wanting to find a job.
      Dear M.: The only record of the incident may be the information card filled out by the police and kept in their department. No official court record would exist if you didn’t have to appear in court.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jamie
      Sun, 07 Mar 2010 at 11:47

      Im 15 and i got caught for shoplifting for around 300 dollars.On the ticket i recieved it said 334b. I have stolen before from this store but this was the first time I got caught. My record has been clear until this. I am to go to court in a month. Would it be better to have a lawyer? also please explain what plea guilty and innocent are. I Finally realize how serious shoplifting is and i will never even think about it again! but in court will i be asked of previous episodes? Thanks so much
      Dear Jamie: You stated in a follow-up message that you live in Canada. The laws of your province will apply to your case. If you deny the shoplifting, you will have a hearing [trial] to decide whether you’re guilty or not. You may be eligible for a court-appointed lawyer. If you admit the shoplifting, the court will proceed to sentencing. That may include some community work hours, a fine or restitution to the store, a class or counseling. At your first hearing, the process will be explained to you, including whether you need a lawyer or not. That is really a decision for you and your parents to make. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jamie
      Sun, 07 Mar 2010 at 01:49

      Thank you for replying! I have a great future ahead of me and i dont understand why i stole. but how can i deny the shoplifting if they have it on tape, and what would happen in a trial? what if i said i was innocent but truth is i wasnt, would i be charged of lying?? Im so lost and so dissapointed in myself for not seeing what i was doing. I really want to leave eveything behind and start over , but is there a possibility that my school will be notified? and a permenant record?
      Dear Jamie: The trial process and consequences of both admitting or denying the shoplifting charge will be explained to you at court. Generally, schools are not notified of off-campus incidents. After this is behind you, you can ask the court to expunge your record. You may have to wait a period of time [a year, for example, or until you're 18]. It’s a simple process that requires you to stay out of any further trouble to be eligible for a destruction of your juvenile record. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jamie
      Sun, 07 Mar 2010 at 05:44

      One last question,i have never been in court before, can you please tell me is it gonna be like the ones we see on tv? like with so many people?? thanks so much for your time i really appreciate this
      Dear Jamie: We can’t tell you exactly what it will be lke in your area. However, juvenile court hearings are generally closed to the public. In most jurisdictions, it’s nothing like what you see on television. It may involve you, your parents and lawyer, if you have one, the judge, a clerk of the court and court reporter [maybe], and the state’s attorney. There will be a few more people [victim and witnesses] if you plead not guilty and go to trial. Relax. Juvenile court hearings are not quite as formal as other types of proceedings.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jamie
      Sun, 07 Mar 2010 at 09:56

      can you give me some pros and cons of havving a lawyer? is it worth the money?
      Dear Jamie: A lawyer is trained to know the laws and rules that apply to your case. He or she can attempt to negotiate a deal on your behalf with the state. He would also be able to look at the circumstances of your case and see that your rights are protected throughout the process. If you can’t afford a lawyer, the court may appoint one to represent you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Tiffany
      Sun, 07 Mar 2010 at 10:40

      Today, i was caught shoplifting at sephora. the amount was $20. a worker there took me into an office, questioned me and told me that i would have to pay a fine of $1000. is that true? he also made me sign a paper stating that i will be arrested if i enter any sephora ever again. he called the cops and the cop handcuffed me, took me to a security office, and asked me my name, contact info, ssn, height, weight, etc, etc. what will happen? am i required to go to court? do i have to go to juvie? because my mom seems convinced that i will. this is my first offense and they told me that it was a petty misdemeanor. i’m really scared. i realize that it was wrong, but i honestly had no idea what was going on in my head at the time. (i’m 14 and i live in california)
      Dear Tiffany: If the officer didn’t give you a citation [ticket] or court date, you may not have to go. Every jurisdiction has its own procedure in handling shoplifting incidents. You may receive a notice in the mail advising you of a date to appear in court. If you do, don’t miss the hearing. The process will then be explained to you. As a first-time offender, you may be offered diversion. That means if you admit the charge, you’ll have to complete some community work hours, pay a fine or restitution to the store, attend a class or counseling and the the matter will be closed. The letter from the store may be a “civil demand”, possibly up to $1,000.00, although that sounds a little high, that you’ll have to pay unless you decide to fight the shoplifting charge. Don’t return to the store or trespassing charges may be filed against you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • iesha
      Mon, 08 Mar 2010 at 03:35

      hi im 18 years old never been in trouble with the law, i currently was fired from my job for using store credit cards with money on them. i received my letter in the mail saying i was being charged with theft less than 100$. please help will i go to jail? will i be able to get a job?
      Dear Iesha: It depends on whether the store is handling this as a civil matter or pressing criminal charges against you. If it’s civil, you’ll most likely be required to pay a civil demand fine and the case will be closed. If charges are filed, you’ll have to appear in court where you may be offered, as a first-time offender, diversion. That means if you complete some community work hours, pay a fine or restitution, attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed. Once you’ve finished all requirements, you may be eligible to apply for your record to be expunged. You may have to wait a year or so however before applying. You can ask about this when and if you go to court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jamie
      Mon, 08 Mar 2010 at 07:03

      um when you say the court will appoint one for me do you mean they can pay for it? the thing is my parents are refusing to get me a lawyer, and also the lawyer they appoint, will they try to help me?
      Dear Jamie: If you qualify financially for a court-appointed lawyer, then the court may give you one. He or she will represent you at no cost, or minimal cost to you. It’s up to the court. Your lawyer’s job is to represent you in the case zealously and as required by the law and professional ethics. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Samara
      Mon, 08 Mar 2010 at 08:39

      Hi, I went to target earlier today and stole a face wash. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t caught on camera and i left the store and drove home. and I didnt really pay attention to cars around me but the car behind me just switched lanes and passed me up and kept going straight and as i was turning, I noticed it was an undercover cop car. I started freaking out thinking they got my license plate. can they show up at my house or call making the claim that I shoplifted, or did I get away with it? And I’m not dwelling on the fact that they were following ME because the main street i was on was the street the city police dept is on. I’m never risking this ever again. What are your thoughts?
      Dear Samara: It would be unusual for an undercover officer to be involved in a shoplifting incident. However, every city and town operates differently. You’ll know if you’re in trouble if and when you receive a notice in the mail to appear in court. Hopefully, because stealing is wrong, you’ll mend your ways, not because you’re in fear of getting caught. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Samara
      Tue, 09 Mar 2010 at 01:27

      oh okay. Believe me, I’m never doing it again. The reason why I’m thinking it was a undercover cop car is because it had some little police department sticker on the car, but the car didn’t seem to be stalking me. and it wasn’t following me for super long. but also… I’m just curious if, in order for you to be fined shoplifting, must someone have witnessed you in the act? and would a store go through their surveillance tapes just to find out what you look like?
      Dear Samara: The store can go through their tapes and try to identify you. The car you saw may have noting to do with the incident. It could have been a coincidence especially since you were nervous and on high alert about getting caught.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • maria
      Tue, 09 Mar 2010 at 05:09

      i was caught stealing a gift card from work, its my second time stealing. what will happend to me?
      Dear Maria: It depends on the store and if the police were involved. If it’s not reported, the store can fine you a certain amount and trespass you from the store. That means don’t return for the period they tell you. The fine may be several hundred dollars. If shoplifting charges are filed you may be offered diversion. That means if you complete some community work hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter will be closed. Once you turn 18 you can ask the court to expunge your record. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Hailey
      Tue, 09 Mar 2010 at 11:59

      i was in wal mart today and got caught stealing cologne, markers, and a bra. it all added up to $77. I am a little confused because loss prevention told me that he wasnt going to call the cops but that i would be receiving a fine. i did not sign anything though. he just took down the info on my license and my social security number, not my phone number or signature anywhere and joked about how he thought the cologne was more expensive -.- he didnt say i couldnt be on property or anything. but my question is am i going to have to go to court ? because he said once i left the parking lot wal mart couldnt help me any longer. im 18 and i live in nevada and ive never gotten in trouble with the law before.. i just want to know what is happening next.
      Dear Hailey: The store can keep the shoplifting incident the store’s business only and not notify the police. If this happens, you’ll get a letter in the mail requiring payment of a civil fine. If this happens, pay it on time and the matter will be closed. Or they can turn the case over to the police to press charges. In that case you’ll receive a notice in the mail about a court date. If that happens, don’t miss the hearing. You may qualify for diversion in court which means you’ll have to complete some work hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling and then the case is closed. It would be advisable that you stay away from the store even if you were told to by Wal-Mart.
      Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • minkie
      Wed, 10 Mar 2010 at 12:30

      hi, im 20 and live in mn. i got caught stealing worth of $265 and got a citation from a police. he says to wait for a letter in the mail to go to court. on the back of the citation is info on how to pay the fine, but i don’t know if im supposed to pay the fine [there wasn't any amount written except for the amount i stole] or if im supposed to go to court first. this is my first time and im scared. will it be on my record, and am i supposed to plead guilty or ask for a diversion or what? im really clueless.
      Dear Minkie: If there is no court date written on the ticket, then wait for the notice in the mail. Make sure you attend on the specified date. If this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion. The process will be explained to you by a court/probation officer when you go to court. Diversion may include work hours, a fine, attending a class or counseling. Once you finish whatever you’re required to do, the matter will be closed and at a certain point [a year or two usually] you can ask the court to expunge your record. You can plead not guilty and a trial will be set. It’s your decision and one that will be discussed when you appear for your hearing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • maria again.
      Wed, 10 Mar 2010 at 05:47

      the police were involved in my incident, state troopers to be exact. they said im going to recieve a letter, but i already paid the company back. and since its my second offence what do you think exactly might happend? one offence was in a different county than now about almost a year ago… what do you think will happend?
      Dear Maria: If it’s been a year and you haven’t heard anything, you’re likely in the clear. But that’s no guaranty since every state has its own statute of limitations regarding crimes. Crimes committed in different counties may result in two separate charges filed in different county courts. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • john
      Fri, 12 Mar 2010 at 11:19

      i have court on monday for a misdermoner retail theft. now i have done jail time for it already and have bailed out twice for it. i did not finsih my community service hours but i did pay the 300 dollars in fines for missing it. i was just wondering if the fact that i payed my fines for missing it will help me out, because i cannot do anymore jail time.what could i be sentenced? and i have no fines as of right now to pay.
      Dear John: Anything you’ve done should help to some degree. However, if you’re in violation of court orders or probation terms, the judge will take that into consideration. Discuss the possible consequences with your lawyer or probation/court officer. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Michelle
      Sat, 13 Mar 2010 at 12:38

      I’m 20 and got caught shoplifting in CA. The total came out to $68. I’ve done it before, twice. And apparently they said that they had it on camera. I feel very badly about this. They took me to LP, and then I went to county jail and they cited me and gave me a court date. Will I be sent to jail? Or will this show up on my record? And if so, what will it say? I feel very badly about this and plan on showing up at court and apologizing profusely. They also banned me from the store where I was planning on going to pay for the items I took previously. So I can’t do that anymore.
      Dear Michelle: Since you’re an adult and this is your third offense, you’ll likely have a record. Once you complete all consequences of this incident [probation, work hours, etc.] you may be eligible to clean up your record after a year or two. Ask about this when you go to court. Don’t return to the store or trespassing charges could be filed against you. If you want to pay for past thefts, you could send a letter with payment to the store. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • HW
      Sat, 13 Mar 2010 at 05:06

      If I am 18 and was caught Shoplifting in North Carolina, will my parents and my college be notified, or can I take care of it all on my own?
      Also, it was my first charge and I don’t know why I even did it. the store called the police and I got a ticket and everyone was very nice about it, but I have a may court date.
      Dear HW: Since you’re an adult, your parents may not be notified. Make sure you appear in court on the date given. Police don’t usually notify schools either, but every jurisdiction is different. You should be able to handle this on your own. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Allison
      Mon, 15 Mar 2010 at 06:40

      I was with a friend today in JCP in New Jersey. She took a $9 ring, and I was going to, but decided NOT TO and PAID for a necklace instead. She stuck the empty box in the back on the display case, and while we were paying for my necklace, we noticed an undercover security guard by the case, staring at us, holding TWO empty ring cases. she followed us out of the store and through the mall, but didn’t follow us to my car, stop us, or talk to us. Because they have my credit info, are they going to look me up and fine me, even though I didn’t do anything? or do you feel they’ll let it go?
      Dear Allison: Since you weren’t stopped or questioned, it’s unlikely you’ll hear from anyone. However, you could receive a letter from the store requiring that you pay a fine. Since you didn’t take anything, read the letter carefully before deciding what you’ll do. Discuss the situation with your parents who may assist you in resolving this with the store. Good luck.
      [This is information only -not legal advice].

    • Michelle
      Mon, 15 Mar 2010 at 07:31

      I have an edit for my last question, I have shoplifted before, but I wasn’t caught. They only have footage. they never took me in LP. Does this change your answer?
      Dear Michelle: It wouldn’t change the situation unless you were charged or consequenced by the store for the earlier incidents. If that were the case, the penalties for a subsequent offense could be greater.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • arleen
      Tue, 16 Mar 2010 at 02:57

      hi im from texas and i was caught shoplifting recently $73.00 worth of merchandise 1st offense. (misdemeanor b) The lp called the police n he took me to mcallen police station. there i waited to see the judge for my bail amount ($502.00) from there i was taken to county after they took all my info down i was bailed out. but the officers there told me to expect a court date… what will happen next? and i was also wondering if i will lose my job at a clothing store because of this… does the county inform my employer?
      Dear Arleen: You stated in a second message that you’re 19 – that’s why you’re in adult court and not the juvenile system. Since this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion. That means if you complete some community work hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter will be closed. You can plead not guilty and go to trial on the charge – it is your decision. The process will be explained to you when you go to court. After a period of time [a year or two] you may be able to apply for an expungement of your record. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • matt
      Tue, 16 Mar 2010 at 02:30

      ok my name is matt and i live in chicago il..im 14 years old and me and my friend got caught shoplifting… i took only $15 worth of things and he took more then $50 worth of things.This is my first time ever!!! he did it before.. So what will happen?what do i pay?? do i get arrested??? help!!
      Dear Matt: First, relax. If the police didn’t come to the store and give you a ticket or notice to appear in court, then the matter will likely be handled by the store. You may receive a letter in the mail telling you to pay a “civil demand” which is a fine. Pay it on time if you admit the shoplifting. You can also choose not to pay and fight it in court. Discuss this with your parents. Also, if the store told you not to return, don’t. Otherwise, they can file trespass charges against you.Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Karen
      Tue, 16 Mar 2010 at 10:51

      I’m only fifteen. I shoplifted from a local jewel in Illinois but i didn’t get caught. The thing that happened though was that I left the packages in the store and I’m sure they looked over the security tapes after finding out its me and my friends. its my first (and last) time. What I’m afraid is that something will happen to me if I ever go back. Like will they stop me and then arrest me? I’m a bit confused on what can possibly happen to me but all I know is that I’m done with this whole shoplifting deal.
      Dear Karen: Glad to hear you’re done stealing – your life will be much better for it. If you return to the store and they know it’s you from the video, they may question you and/or call the police. Every store has its own policies regarding the treatment of shoplifters. You might want to avoid the store for awhile or better yet, return and apologize for your behavior. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sherissa
      Wed, 17 Mar 2010 at 04:14

      Im 15 ready to turn 16 and im filling out job applications.. it asks ‘have you ever been convicted of a felon or misdemeanor?’ check yes/no… a few years ago i got caught stealing about $5 dollars value, and didnt get pressed charges. the cops were called and i was asked questions there, then taken to the police station where my mom was called and i was asked more questions, and the officer filled out a form… i was banned from the store for awhile, wit no charges pressed, but a form filled out, i dont know if im actually convicted. on my application do i check yes or no? i live in kansas if that helps.. thanx.
      Dear Sherissa: First, since you weren’t charged with shoplifting or anything else, and you didn’t go to court, you weren’t convicted of anything. It sounds like this incident was handled as a civil matter and your only record s with the store and a notation that may be on file with the police. There’s a good chance it’s gone since it’s been a few years. Read the employment questions carefully and answer truthfully.
      Good luck with the job and your education.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • marie
      Wed, 17 Mar 2010 at 04:25

      do the police notified current job or scholl for shoplifting.
      Dear Marie: In most cases, the police don’t have the time to contact employers or schools of criminal activity unless it is connected with the store or school. It may also make a difference if the offender is already on probation with specific terms involving the school or business.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Karen
      Wed, 17 Mar 2010 at 05:04

      Thank you very much for your response. Yes I’m also glad, you have no idea how awful I felt! I’m not sure if they will actually call a police or question me since its a pretty big store and they have other problems and such. I have been avoiding that store and I’m afraid to go back and apologize…what if they arrest me or call the police?
      Dear Karen: You may consider writing them a letter of apology to ease your conscience.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Ann
      Wed, 17 Mar 2010 at 11:05

      This is a first offense for me. I am regretting ever doing such a stupid thing. I am planning to plead guilty but will I be charged as an adult? What will happen after I plead guilty? I heard that PL 165.40 is punishable by up to 1 year in prison. I really don’t want to go to jail, especially when I am so close to graduating high school. I don’t want this one bad judgment to ruin my life. Can I get this record sealed?
      I also heard something about an ACD. How can I request one? Can I request one without an lawyer? Can I request an ACD before my trial?
      Dear Ann: You mentioned in a separate message that you were charged with shoplifting. Since this is your first offense, you’re not likely to be tried as an adult, or be sentenced to one year in prison. That’s the maximum sentence usually given repeat offenders. You may be offered diversion which means if you complete some community service, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling the matter will be closed. It shouldn’t affect your education or graduation date. There are different abbreviations and acronyms all over the country – what does ACD stand for? When you go to court, ask about sealing your record. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sharon
      Thu, 18 Mar 2010 at 08:27

      hi. im 19 years old and i got caught shoplifting at sears for $115.94 worth of clothing and other places.but the cop just returned them to the stores. im extrememly scared and upset at myself.i dont know what to do. the cops handcuffed me and took me to the station where they just took all my information fingerprints, mugshots, and then let me go without paying. he said that i would have to pay about $130 but i didnt have to beccause he talked to his seargant and he was in a good mood and i was cooperating with them and i had no record. this is my first offense and my court date is april 6th. should i hire a lawyer? how much am i going to get fined? i live in elgin, il. will it be on my record forever?
      Dear Sharon: The criminal process will be explained to you when you go to court. Since this is your first offense, you may be offered a diversion program. That means if you complete community work hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling the matter will be closed. That’s if you admit the shoplifting. If you deny it and go to trial, the conseuences may be similar including a probation period. Either way, after a period of time [a year or so] you can request that your record be expunged. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Viet
      Fri, 19 Mar 2010 at 03:02

      Thank you for answering, and also sorry for late reply. I got a question, it the same one as the one I ask before but it just some more info that I want to ask. All the item is under 200 dollar, and will I go to jail or I just gonna get Community Hour or what? And I live in Virginia, so will anything will happen?
      Dear Viet: What happens will depend on your age, history with law enforcement and the courts, and other factors. It will be up to the judge to decide the consequences. You may be offered diversion that would include work hours, a fine or restitution, and counseling. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jj
      Sun, 21 Mar 2010 at 03:25

      hi judge!
      so i went to court and everything turned out ok. had to pay a fine and i got probation. im going to start going to school soon and my mom wants me to open a bank account where my aunt works, but im scared because i dont know if they do background checks when you open a bank account…so do they?
      JJ: It’s not likely that banks or credit unions do background checks for new accounts or deposits. To know for sure, ask when you open the account or ask your aunt to inquire. Good idea to start saving a little – you won’t regret it. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • ceecee
      Sun, 21 Mar 2010 at 08:08

      i’m 17 years old and live in california. i just got caught shoplifting today in a store called anthropologie. i was there with a friend and the sensor went off. we stole a couple of journals and belts. we got taken to a room where the mall security/police got called. we were then questioned and had to sign store forms which stated that we cannot go into the store for at least 3 years. we then got taken to the mall police station and he had to call our parents. he said that we weren’t charged for a felony since this was a mistake and a first time offense, but we did had a court date and had to show up. he said it would only look like a traffic ticket on our record, but that’s about it. what i’m worried about is what would happen when we go to court. also, do my parents have to show up with me on my court date? what if they have to work and can’t take it off? can my aunt or uncle take me? or can a sibling of legal age take me
      Dear CeeCee: Read the ticket you received carefully. It should say whether to bring a parent or not. Most likely, since you’re a minor, a parent needs to attend with you. You can call the court in advance and ask if some other relative may appear if your parents can’t get off work. The shoplifting process will be explained to you when you appear in court. You may be offered diversion which means once you complete some work hours, pay a fine, or attend a class or counseling the matter will be closed. Don’t return to the store while you’re banned or they may charge you with trespassing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sharon
      Tue, 23 Mar 2010 at 12:08

      how likely is it to go to jail for a misdemeanor? im afraid of that. it was my mistake so i will pay the fines but im just afraid of going to jail. should i hire a lawyer? will it all be done and taken care of in one court date?
      Dear Sharon: Depending on what happens when you go to court, it could be resolved at one hearing. If this is your first offense, and again depending on the policies in your area, you’re not likely to go to jail. If you reoffend, the chances are better that you’ll receive some jail time – usually up to one year for a misdemeanor. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Yarden
      Tue, 23 Mar 2010 at 02:03

      I am 16 years old and got caught shoplifting at a mall. It was my first time ever stealing and i did it completely out of impulse. It was totally out of character and i have never been in trouble with the law before. The cops at the mall arrested me and i have a court date in a couple weeks. I am really nervous as to what is going to happen. What should i expect?
      Dear Yarden: Once you appear in court, the process will be explained to you. Since this is your first offense, you may qualify for diversion. That means if you complete some work hours, pay a fine, complete a class or counseling, the matter will be closed. Otherwise, you can go to trial on the charge, if you plead not guilty, and the consequences may be the same plus a probation period. Discuss your options with the court officer you’ll meet when you appear. Good luck.

    • Rachel
      Tue, 23 Mar 2010 at 07:56

      I am a minor and I have been caught shoplifting twice in two different places. both times did not involve the police. what will happen?
      Dear Rachel: You’re pushing your luck. If the police weren’t involved, there likely won’t be any charges filed against you. However, the store may notify you in writing about a civil [a fine] they can collect from you for shoplifting. You may receive a letter in the mail about this. If you do, pay it on time and the matter will be closed. Think twice before stealing again. Good luck.
      [This is information only -not legal advice].

    • Rachel
      Tue, 23 Mar 2010 at 09:26

      its me again. I’m also curious if this ruins my chances of getting a job [unskilled labor]. both times, they told me that its not going on any criminal record. thank you for your advice, and no I’m not going to do this again.
      Dear Rachel: No, it shouldn’t ruin your chances for further education, employment opportunities, military, etc. Read all questions on applications carefully and answer truthfully. If you haven’t gone to court, you haven’t been “convicted” of a crime. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kristen
      Wed, 24 Mar 2010 at 05:12

      Hi, Im 17 and live in the UK and got caught shoplifting the other day. I know what I did, and it was not worth what Im feeling now.
      The store detective called the police, and I had to pay for the items that I had stolen. Im also banned from all the stores that go by that name. I was told by the policewoman that as this was my first time offence that I would have a police record, but that it would not be made public and that it shouldnt affect applying for university or a job. I dont know what I’ll do if this stupid few seconds of impulse ruin my chances of having a future. Do you know if this is true and that it wont be made public??
      Also, I javent told my parents out of shame…is there anyway that they will be finding out??
      Thanks in advance
      Dear Kristen: What you were told is correct. This incident isn’t likely to affect your future college applications, employment searches or military ambitions if you have such. Stay away from the store as ordered or you could be charged with trespassing. For more about the theft [shoplifting] laws in England, take a look at thesite.org and search under “shoplifting.” To eliminate the worry about your parents finding out, which they could over time, tell them yourself. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Abraham
      Thu, 25 Mar 2010 at 02:59

      I stole about a month ago and i was just wondering if i could still be caught is there any possible chance i could be busted?
      Dear Abraham: Whether you get caught and charged with theft or shoplifting depends on the circumstances. If you were identified by someone or caught on video at the store, it’s possible that a charge may be filed with the court. On the other hand, if it’s been a month and you haven’t heard anything from the store or police, you may have gotten lucky this time. Think twice before you repeat this behavior. Jail or juvenile detention isn’t where you want to be.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Karen
      Thu, 25 Mar 2010 at 05:52

      I shoplifted an item under $30 form walgreens a couple weeks ago. On my way out a manager asked me to stop so he could ask some questions but I panicked and ran. They got my license as I was driving away in the parking lot. When I came home from school today there was a business card from a policeman in my door asking that I call the officer back. I knew if I didnt that I would be getting confronted by the police at one point or another no matter what. So I called the officer and I’m going to meet up with her on Tuesday morning. I asked her what all this was about (even thought I already knew) and she confirmed my license plate was recorded in the parking lot where the shoplifting occurred. I’m s.cared and I know I’m caught. There’s obviously video footage of me in the parking lot and most definitely of me and/or the theft occurring in the store.
      What should I expect? Do I admit to stealing when I talk to the officer on Tuesday? Please advise, it was a first time stupid mistake and I am terrified.
      Dear Karen: First, tell your parents or guardian if you’re a minor. They may want to go with you on Tuesday. What you decide to do is entirely up to you. Since this is your first offense, as you stated, you can expect diversion which means if you admit the shoplifting and agree to complete some community service hours, pay a fine and/or restituion, and attend counseling if required to, the matter will then be closed. Otherwise if you’re charged with shoplifting, you’ll have to appear in court and the consequences are similar including the possibility of a probation period. It’s your decision, Karen, whether you admit it or not – tell the truth and face the music. There’s a valuable lesson here if you do the right thing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Coral
      Thu, 25 Mar 2010 at 07:10

      hi, i got caught shoplifting at urban outfitters stealing a shirt 2 pairs of earings and some other earings from another store. unfortunatly i had scissors, which made it intent, what would be the consequences be, i havent gotten and notices about the court date yet or any fines, since ive had time to think about what ive done personally i know i will never do it again, im writing an apology letter to urban outfitters and ive taken account to writing something about it in my school news paper. do u think i will be on probation because of the scissors, i hope not..
      Dear Coral: If you’re charged with theft or shoplifting, you’ll receive notice of a court date. It could take as long as a month or so before you hear anything depending on the size of your city and how busy the local prosecutor is. Your letter of apology is a good idea. Probation is a possibility as well as community service hours, a fine, restitution and counseling. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • kim
      Sat, 27 Mar 2010 at 12:56

      I got caught shoplifting at a departments store in arizona today, the total amount was about $70, this is the first time offence, first time that i am in this kind of situation, i have good grades at school and a clean record, i did it because i was being peerpreasure by some girls from school, i really regreat it, and i know i did something bad, i learned my lesson, i know i shouldnt have done it, im 17 turning 18 in less thn a week, my mom wasnt called or anything (only my contact info was taken) but i needed and adult to pickme up so my cousin whos 24 went for me,the police told me that i was going to get a bill in the mail by the store & since the store is making charges then i was going to get a paper to go to court, the police told that i just might have to take some clases but it was up to the judge, since i am going to be 18 next week an i will have to go to court next month , do my parents need to go with me, or can i just go by myself, i was 17 when i comited the crime and will be 18 during court day
      Dear Kim: When you receive the letter from the court, read it carefully. It will tell you when to appear and where as well as whether you need to bring a parent or not. Most likely since you’ll be 18 at the time of the hearing, you can go by yourself. The officer is right – since it’s your first offense you may be offered diversion which means upon completing a class or work hours, the matter will be closed. Don’t let peer pressure influence you to do something you know is wrong. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Ange
      Sat, 27 Mar 2010 at 05:56

      Dear Judge
      Yesterday, 2 of my friends went into Claires.One was 13 other was 14.Both female.Well my two friends wanted to “pretend to be bad” and the 13 year old took the tag off the 5$ bracelet and put it in her hand.Then she and her other friend kept talking, hanging out and they two totally forgot about her having a bracelet on her hand and was about to walk out of claires when the clerk came to them and said please come here.They asked if she had any id, she said no and they checked her shopping bag from anotehr store and found another 5$ bracelet in the bag.The 14 year ols told me that she hadnt seen the 13 put the bracelet in her bag and write before they took her away she wispered in her ear ” do you swear you didnt steal it ” she said “yes”.When they took the 13 year old away the 14 year old called me and told me what happened.SHe also told me that hte 13 year old didnt want to rip the tag of but the 14 year old convinced her.But the 13 year old never told the police about that.Since they took her downtown they will probably want to hear what happened again .WHat if she tell that the 14 year old told hr to keep it on and this is the 13 year olds first time of shoplifting and getting cought.What will happen to my 2 best friends.SOrry for the lengh.
      Dear Ange: Since this is a first offense for all involved, they will likely be offered diversion – that means that once they complete a class or counseling, or community work hours, the case will be closed. It’s up to the court to decide. The store may also send each of them a letter requesting payment of a fine. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Patricia
      Sat, 27 Mar 2010 at 03:31

      I am now 20 years old. I was caught shoplifting and I did not have to go to court or jail. The only thing I had to do is pay for my fine which is over $500. After i finish paying for the fine, will this be erased from my record? I applied for a job but since they did the criminal background check, I cannot get the job. I do not want this issue to affect my issue. I really need information!!
      Dear Patricia: If you didn’t go to court on this incident and are only paying the fine imposed by the store [a civil demand], then there’s no official record with the court or law enforcement. Unless you have other incidents in the past that would show up on a background check, this latest one shouldn’t have. You could check with your local police department and obtain your own record if one exists. You may have to pay a small fee for it, but it would be good information to have if you’re unsure. Similar to running your own credit report every year. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • william
      Sun, 28 Mar 2010 at 07:19

      Say I were to open something, put it in my pocket, notice I am under surveillance and then put the item back and leave the store will I get in trouble?
      Dear William: If you damaged the packaging to the point where the store can’t sell it as new, they can ask you to pay a fine, what is called a civil demand under the laws of your state. Or they can refer the incident to the police if they choose. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sally
      Sun, 28 Mar 2010 at 09:05

      My brother had associate’s chase him out of a store. I gave him a ride home. I do not know what he did in the clothing store but I know some associate’s came out and they took down my license plate number. I am in the state of NV and wondering what could happen to me as a driver. Thank you.
      Dear Sally: If the store employee reports the incident to the police, you may hear from them if an investigation is conducted. If it is discovered that you acted as a lookout or driver while he committed a crime in the store [shoplifting, criminal damage, etc], you may be charged with the crime as an accomplice. The totality of the circumstances are taken into consideration when sizing up a situation and filing formal charges against someone. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Grace
      Mon, 29 Mar 2010 at 02:16

      Dear Judge: I have a question regarding shoplifting and age of majority. In my province (BC) the age of majority is 19, but federal law dictates that it is 18, does federal law override provincial law when it comes to dealing with shoplifters? I’m 18 and was recently caught shoplifting $60 worth of merchandise from Zellers, I had my picture taken and signed the ban for 10 years and the Notice of Intended Legal Action. The police came and let me off with no charges. However, my father is considering suing store security as I am a minor(?), so anything I sign is void and they aren’t allowed to take pictures of me. Is that true? Thanks in advance!
      Dear Grace: It is not likely that the store is prohibited by law from obtaining information from you, including a photo, when a crime is committed on their premises. You and your father will have to discuss the specifics of the incident and the local laws that apply to you with a lawyer since he’s considering filing a lawsuit. Askthejudge.info is an educational site for teens but we don’t provide legal advice to adults or teenagers. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jamie
      Mon, 29 Mar 2010 at 12:59

      Hello again! THanks for all of your great anwsers, but recently I recieved a mail from sephora demanding 300dollar, it says that i have to pay it within 30 days, also that upon reciept of your full payment and clearence of funds, you will recieve a written release of the civil claim. what does this mean? I have a court date, and a lwayer, why are they sending this? thanks
      Dear Jamie: What you have received is called a “civil demand.” In most states the store may fine you a certain amount, usually in the hundreds, for stealing from them. It has nothing to do with being charged with a crime or going to court. Both may be a consequence of the shoplifting incident. Talk it over with your lawyer to get the exact advice regarding this letter and what to do. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • muskaan
      Wed, 31 Mar 2010 at 01:36

      hi judge
      my sister got caught at rite aid today as she was walking out the LP stopped her and asked her to come to the back and while they were walking he asked her if she took something at first she got scared and said no then he told her we have u on camera opening a makeup item then she told them that she did open it but threw it in one of the ile he asked her to show where she threw it so she did they found the paper but not the item he then took her to the back and asked her again he told her if they call the police it could become a big thing he asked her once again and she pulled the item out of her purse and gave it to him he asked how much was it she told him it was $10 and that she was sorry and she will pay for it he told she has to wait till the manager came then they will dicide she kept on telling him she was sorry and that it was her first time and that she didn’t know why she even did it when the manager came they took to another room and asked ther sign some paper and made a copy of her DL and then walked her to the door and just told her that she was no long allowed to this or anyother Rite Aid please let me know if there is anything she should worry about she is really scared she doesn’t want it to get on her record they took her SS# also. she lives in CA if that helps.
      Dear Muskaan: She may receive a letter in the mail requiring payment of a civil fine – it could be several hundred dollars. If this happens, she needs to pay it on time and the matter will most likely be closed. Otherwise the store may notify the police and shoplifting charges may be filed. Tell her not to return to the store if she was banned for a period of time. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Nancy
      Fri, 02 Apr 2010 at 11:27

      Hello judge,
      I had a lapse in judgement today and shoplifted at American Eagle. I stole some jewelry which amounted to about $15. The sales staff kept on eyeing me and I bought something at the end using a credit card. Will they contact me if I was caught on video? And I am currently across the country away form my home address for college, so will they call me or mail me something?
      Thank you so much for your help.
      Dear Nancy: In most states stores are authorized to impose a fine [civil demand] against a shoplifter. If they have your identification, address, etc. they may send you a letter requiruing payment of a fine, usually $100 to $300 dollars. Pay it on time if you get this, otherwise the store may notify the police in order to press charges. Think twice before doing this again, the consequences increase as incidents continue. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Bob
      Fri, 02 Apr 2010 at 05:33

      I was caught stealing food from Stop&Shop with my friend and we were told to call our parents. They asked for our name date of birth and our address, they soon let us go because we lived far away from Stop&Shop. Will it go to our record and will they send us a fine? I live in Massachusetts, and thank you for your help
      Dear Bob: If you’re under 18 and this is a first offense, you’ll probably receive a letter from the store requiring payment of a fine. If that happens, pay it on time and the case may be closed. Otherwise you may have to go to court on the shoplifting charge if one is filed. The process will be explained to you at that time. Don’t give in to temptation again – the consequences increase as crimes add up. Not to mention, stealing is wrong whether you’re caught or not. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • CeeCee
      Sat, 03 Apr 2010 at 01:44

      Hi judge, it’s me again.
      Thank you for answering. Today, O got a ‘settlement claim’ in the mail from a law firm that represents Anthropologie (the store that I shoplifted from).

      It states:

      “Pursuant to Cal. Penal Code, Section 490.5 (b) and/or (c), ANTHROPOLOGIE may consider moving forward with a statutory civil damages claim against you.
      We ask that you settle this matter by making payment to us in the amount of $500.00 within twenty (20) days of the date of this letter. Upon receipt of full payment and clearance of funds, you will receive a written release of the statutory civil “penalty” claim.”
      What does this mean, exactly? Do I still have to go to court? Also, will there be another fine from the court?
      Dear CeeCee: This is the civil fine that stores may seek from shoplifters. Once paid, the matter is closed as far as the store is concerned. However, that doesn’t mean that criminal [shoplifting] charges can’t be filed, but it’s unlikely to happen unless local law enforcement decides to do so. People don’t realize that oftentimes when the law is broken there may be both civil and criminal consequences. You might want to talk with a lawyer before you decide what to do in this case – or your parents. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • CeeCee
      Sat, 03 Apr 2010 at 01:44

      So does that mean there still might be another fine from the court?
      Dear CeeCee: Yes, there could be another fine from court but only if local law enforcement decides to file charges which often does not happen once the civil fine has been paid and the store is not pressing charges.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Julie
      Sat, 03 Apr 2010 at 05:13

      Hi Judge.

      Last night I went into a clothing store with no intent to steal..but I ended up putting a 15 dollar shirt in my purse in the fittig room. I am positive no one saw and noticed but when I put the other clothes back there was an emtpy hanger with them and a store employee or manager (not sure what she was) saw it and started watching me.

      I did buy another item and notcied her watching me and waiting at the door for me. When no one was looking I discarded the item on a table and walked out. As I walked out she asked me “did you get your bag? Did you get everything you a PAID FOR?” And I knew for sure she knew. I just smiled and said yes and she followed me out and watched me get in my car. I’m pretty sure you noted my license plate number.

      I’m a total wreck because I got caught and am scared ithat in any moment, the police will be at my door to escort me away in handcuffs. I feel disgusting for stealing because as a retail worker, I know exactly what shrink does to businesses and its workers. I’ve already made the decision to go to therapy. I’ve never been arrested before..I was caught twice a couple years ago at a Macy’s and at a Sears but only paid a civil demand.

      Oh, I live in california..what do you think?
      Dear Julie: You already know that what you were doing was wrong. It’s a good idea that you are looking into therapy especially if you have a tendency to shoplift and be impulsive even though you know it’s wrong. Since you removed the stolen item from your purse before leaving the store and the clerk/manager did not actually stop you and obtain your contact information, you most likely got lucky this time. Even if she took down your license plate number, that is usually not enough information to contact you since you may not be the registered owner of the vehicle. Again, it’s unlikely that you will hear anything more of this, but if so, you will receive a notice in the mail to appear in court or to pay the store a civil fine. The police will not come to your house and arrest you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • julie
      Sat, 03 Apr 2010 at 11:52

      Thank you for the info. I guess I also forgot to mention I did pay for the other item with a credit card..so they have my name. I figure if nothing happens otherwise, they will just have me noted as a shoplifter for that store and the other chains so I should stay away.

      And if I do receive a letter to appear in court..will I just get a lawyer and admit what I did? What I get from this is that the intention to steal, even though I changed my mind, is still a crime. I don’t want to make a mistake and cause any more issues with this. Is this something I can reasonably fight because I didn’t actually take the merchandise out of the store?

      Thank you again.
      Dear Julie: If you end up receiving a notice in the mail to appear in court, you will have decide whether you want to retain an attorney to help you fight the charges, plead guilty or take your case to trial. Askthejudge.info does not provide legal advice, but information to help you know what to expect. You could consult with an attorney first before you decide to hire one and you would receive additional information to help you make your decision. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Caroline
      Sun, 04 Apr 2010 at 03:46

      I shoplifted once in Florida ($10) when I was 17 and just got banned from the store and they made me pay $200.00 fine and I never heard anything from it again. I am now 22 years old and yesterday I got caught stealing $25 worth of medication that I needed from Walmart in Tulsa, OK.I did not have the money to pay for it and I really needed it. Unfortunately I got caught and the cops gave me a ticket for petit larceny from a retailer and told me I must go to court. I am very nervous since I do not have money for an attorney. I was seeking to get Deferred Judgment on i. My big question is, can I still apply for Deferred Judgment as a Firt Time Offender even though I had that other incident when I was a minor? No police where involved that time.Please help me. I am so scared. I would have never stolen again if it wasn’t because I really needed the medication for health reasons. I am scared to tell the judge I am a first time offender and then have them bring up the incident in Florida when I was a minor. Canthey do that?!
      Dear Caroline: Since police were not involved in the first incident when you were a minor and you never went to court, you do not have any criminal record from that incident. Therefore, the court and prosecutor involved in your current case will know nothing about the previous incident and it will not be held against you. Since this is your first offense and the value of the item stolen was low, you may be offered a diversion program (also called a deferred prosecution or judgment in some jurisdictions). This means that upon successful completion of community service hours, payment of a fine/restitution and attending a class or counseling, the case will be closed and the charges dismissed. If diversion is not an option, you are likely facing similar consequences as those mentioned above and possibly being placed on probation. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Viet
      Sun, 04 Apr 2010 at 09:07

      I’m 14, and just like what I said on the previous question. My friend who also have to go to court before, because he destroy properties which cost 300 dollar. And he also 14, and he got Community Hour. So I wonder what will happen to me, am I gonna be like the same as him or what. And can I get a job, if I was proving Guilty and that gonna stay on my record for about 5 year
      Dear Viet: Again, what happens will depend on your age, history with law enforcement and the courts, and other factors. It will be up to the judge to decide the consequences. You may be offered diversion that would include work hours, a fine or restitution, and counseling. If you end up being offered a diversion program, the case will be closed and the charges dismissed upon successful completion of the program. Therefore, you would not have a record. Otherwise, if you end up with a record, you can go back to the court and request that your record be expunged or destroyed after you complete your sentence and turn 18. Depending on your state’s laws, you may have to wait a few years past your 18th birthday before you can request your record be destroyed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Ashley
      Sun, 04 Apr 2010 at 02:17

      I was in a store recently that was selling cell phone cases. I walked up to one of the men who worked there and asked if he had any cases for my type of phone, I gave him my phone and he showed me some cases. He was really trying to convince me to buy a case (i really didnt like any of the colors) he had me try on four or five cases on my phone. he handed my phone back to me with a case still on it and he took another case and told me to put it in my pocket to see how it felt. I put my phone in my other hand under my wallet so i could put the case in my pocket. I gave him the case and said no thank you, i dont like it. I politely said bye and thanked him, i proceeded to look at other things in the store when he came up to me and said i was shoplifting. I totally forgot there was still a case on my phone. I offered to give it back after apologizing and trying to explain. I even offered to pay for it. He didnt believe i had forgotten about it and called the police. We both gave our testimony to the police officer and the officer said it looked like a misunderstanding and I wasn’t charged. I want to be a police officer and was just wondering if my name is now in the system or not.
      If so are my future employers able to see this?
      I am 16 years old and I live in Ontario Canada.
      Dear Ashley: If you were not arrested, cited or sent a notice in the mail to appear in court, then there should not be any record of the incident. To be sure, you could contact your local law enforcement department and ask for a copy of your record. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Jamie
      Sun, 04 Apr 2010 at 04:11

      Dear Judge,
      Its Jamie again, Im sorry to keep bothering you but I am going to get my finger prints done a couple more days, and I am scared out of my pants. I know what I did was completely wrong, but will I be a criminal for the rest of my life? Im only 15, and my life has barely begun. Also I have a court date on the 30th of april, my parents hired a lawyer but what if it fails? what will happen to me? Im so stupid for what I have done but Im getting so stressed out by this. Could you please tell me what will happen? Thanks Again
      Dear Jamie: Most states have some sort of diversion program that is offered to those charged with a first offense for shoplifting. If this type of program is offered to you, it means that upon successful completion of community service hours, payment of a fine/restitution and attending a class or counseling, the case will be closed and the charges dismissed. Even if diversion is not an option for you, once you complete your sentence and turn 18 or a little older (depending on the laws of your state), you can go back to the court and request that your juvenile record be destroyed. For more information about getting your juvenile record destroyed, click here. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Nicole
      Sun, 04 Apr 2010 at 09:47

      I got caught shoplifting in the mall, and it was a keychain for $2.99. I have court at the end of the month and I’m extremely nervous. I just turned 18 a month ago, and I’ve never had a criminal charge or anything on my record before. I was very respectful and gave no problems when talking to the police, and was completely honest. I knew they could tell I was embarassed and ashamed, but I was wondering how court would go? Do you think they will just give me a slap on the hand because its my first offense, and it only was a three dollar keychain? Or will I get probation or community service? Please let me know, thanks.
      Dear Nicole: Because this is your first offense, there is a good chance that you will be offered a diversion program. This means that upon successful completion of community service, payment of a fine/restitution and attending a class or counseling, the case would be closed and the charges dismissed. Remember that the penalties will increase for any additional offenses, so we hope you learned from this incident. Good luck.

      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Nancy
      Sun, 04 Apr 2010 at 10:38

      hi again judge,
      this is nancy who shoplifted from american eagle in rhode island and is scared that ill recieve a civil demand in the mail in my california home. do you know approximately how long it will take to get there? I shoplifted on friday
      Dear Nancy: Usually civil demand letters are sent to the person within a month or two of the offense, so you may have to wait several more weeks before you receive it. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • muskaan
      Mon, 05 Apr 2010 at 03:06

      hi Judge
      it’s me muskaan my sister hasn’t recieved anything as of yet but she want’s to know if it will go on her record
      Dear Muskaan: It depends on whether criminal charges end up being filed against your sister. If charges are filed and this is her first offense, she may be offered a diversion program which will require community work hours, payment of a fine and possibly a class or counseling. Once the program is completed, the case would be closed and the charges dismissed. If charges are not filed, then she should not have a record of the incident. Every state has a “statute of limitations” which is a mandatory time period for filing charges. For example, the statute of limitations for a misdemeanor offense may be one year. Your sister could try Googling your state’s name and “statute of limitations” to find the specific laws in your state and know how long the state has to file charges. If you sister does not receive anything in the mail within the next couple months or so, there is a good chance that she may not hear anything more about the matter.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • colin
      Mon, 05 Apr 2010 at 03:40

      Hi there. My story is almost similar to another persons but Ok so..on friday night I went to a store and stole but ditched the items once I knew I was being watched. I believe they just had a strong suspicion that I stole..even though I did. But they didn’t see me get rid of the thing. It was under 20 dollars. Didn’t rip or ruin it in anyway shape or form. I didn’t see any cameras, I don’t think they have them but I guess there’s a chance I could be wrong. I concealed the item in the fitting room. I know I wasn’t seen or noticed. I bought other things with a credit card and then I was followed out and they looked at me get in my car that is registered under my name and drive away. the guy was right behind my car noticeably watching me get in and looking at my car and plate info. I have stolen from that store a couple times..and I took censors off things and stashed them..I’m sure they were found. Is there a chance I can be arrested or notified? I didn’t actually take the item and I didn’t even ruin it in anyway. Just worried. My mom is taking me to counceling because she figured out I was stealing. I know its wrong..I have been very stupid in my choices. Thank you.
      Dear Colin: We’re glad to hear that you are going to counseling and working on this issue since you know it’s a problem. If the store believes that you stole an item, damaged an item by opening the package, etc. or has information that you stole an item in the past, then the store may send you a “civil demand” letter in the mail requiring payment of a fine. If this happens, be sure to pay the fine on time and that may be the end of the matter. It’s also possible that criminal charges will be filed and you will receive a notice in the mail to appear in court although it’s not likely since you were not stopped and detained by store personnel who would have obtained your contact information. Don’t allow yourself to make this mistake again. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Giselle
      Mon, 05 Apr 2010 at 05:16

      Hi, I am 16 I live in Flordia with my guardian since my mom passed away and I have never lived with my father. I got caught shoplifting and everything was a total of about $34 at Claires. After being obtained by the Manager and Asst.Manager, they called the police and when the officer came, she took me to her car, and when my grandma and brother came, she said I would get a letter from Claires saying about a court order because I would get sued from Claires and it will be $250. What will happen in court? will this go on my record if this is the first time it has happened and it was just a warning according to the officer? and will I have to be taken away from my guardian?
      Dear Giselle: The store may choose to send you a “civil demand” letter requiring payment of a fine (usually around $200 or so). If you receive this letter, be sure to pay the fine on time and that may be the end of the matter. If this occurs and no charges are filed in court, then it means that you will not have any record of the incident and don’t have to worry about hearing anything more about it. However, if you end up receiving a notice in the mail to appear in court, be sure to appear on time on the date that is stated on the notice. Since this is your first offense, you may be offered a diversion program. This means that upon successful completion of community service hours, payment of a fine/restitution and attending a class or counseling, the matter will be closed and the charges dismissed. Again, if this occurs, you will not have a record of the incident. You do not need to worry about being taken away from your guardian. The only possibility of this happening would be if you were placed on probation and you violated by getting into serious trouble, so the judge places you in detention. We hope you learned from this incident and that you won’t find yourself in any more trouble. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • john
      Mon, 05 Apr 2010 at 11:50

      I was caught shoplifting a pair of eareings from jcp 3 days ago. Some lp guy grabbed me and made me go to a room. I was cooperative and did everything they said and signed some papers. I have contacted a lawyer that said they will help me for 900 dollars to keep this off my record. I got to college, financially support myself at 20, and have no prior record. The value of the earings was 60 dollars. Cops came in later but they didn’t give me anyrthing. They all kind of made fun of me because I had a bag of hollister clothes I paid for. I don’t steal, this was a stupid mistake I let somebody talk me into it for a small amount of cash (a bet) just to see if I could do it. I’m very concerned about my record b.c I just got hired on geek squad at best buy and I know ill get fired before I even finish my training if they find out. Is 900 worth a lawyer for this, what are my chances of getting off on my own, and my chancws of getting a lighter sentence like a disorderly conduct w. A lawyer. Thanks!
      Dear John: Askthejudge.info does not provide legal advice, so we cannot tell you whether you should hire an attorney and what your chances are of getting a good deal with an attorney, etc. The store may choose to send you a “civil demand” letter requiring payment of a fine. If you receive this letter, be sure to pay the fine on time if you are admitting the shoplifting offense and that may be the end of the matter. You may also receive a notice in the mail to appear in court. Because you have no prior criminal record, you may be offered a diversion program. This means that upon successful completion of community service hours, payment of a fine/restitution and attending a class or counseling, the case will be closed and the charges dismissed. If diversion is not an option in your case, you are likely facing similar consequences as those mentioned above and possibly being placed on probation. You can always go back to the court after successfully completing your sentence and request that your record be destroyed or expunged. If you end up going to court on this matter, you could go to your first court at which time you would have a better idea as to what to expect and then decide whether you want to hire an attorney. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Caroline
      Tue, 06 Apr 2010 at 01:20

      I wrote earlier about the my case and have spoken to several lawyers. They are charging me about $500 and then he said to expect about another $500 worth of court fees. I do not have $1000. I have come up with about $650. Do you think that I should show up on my court date and explain my situation and ask for the deferred judgment without an attorney? I mean, in these cases, is it common for them to grant it to someone without an attorney? Because I don’t have money. If they say no, can I then hire an attorney and get another court date?
      Dear Caroline: Whether you will be offered a deferred judgment will depend on a number of factors including the policies of the court and prosecutor’s office and if a deferred judgment program exists in your county, the facts of your case and your criminal record. If deferred judgment is an option in your county and is available for shoplifting offenses, it is likely that you will be offered this type of program. Perhaps you could appear for your first court date at which time you should have a better idea as to what to expect in your case. You do not need to hire an attorney before your first court date. You can retain counsel at any time while your case is still pending in court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Shaun Derkey
      Tue, 06 Apr 2010 at 06:11

      Dear Judge,
      A few days ago I was caught shoplifting $115 worth of stuff from a grocery store. About 2 and a half years ago I was caught at the same store shoplifting $22 worth of stuff. I am 29 and have absolutely nothing else on my record. Last time I did $180 altogether in fines & that’s it. What should I expect this time? Please help me I can’t handle Jail, help me please?
      Dear Ms. Derkey: Askthejudge is a web site for teenagers about the law. Consequently we are unable to assist you and don’t provide legal advice to anyone – teen or adult. What may happen to you depends on your local law enforcement and the policies of your court. You may be facing probation, a fine, restitution, community work hours or even jail. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • mayo
      Wed, 07 Apr 2010 at 10:05

      hey ma name is mayo i shoplifted at walgreens at new jersey for first time it have benn two weeks noww but havnt here anythingggg ..no police nothin but im scared if they check the camera maybe they will charge me help plzzz/ ?
      Dear Mayo: It sounds like you may have gotten lucky this time. However, it’s still possible if the store has any contact information for you that you will receive a “civil demand” letter requiring payment of a fine. If you receive this letter, be sure to pay the fine on time and that may be the end of the matter without any criminal charges being filed. You probably won’t be as lucky next time, so we hope you learned from this incident. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • kappy
      Wed, 07 Apr 2010 at 07:00

      Dear Judge,
      I am 19 year old college student from Wisconsin and recently been caught for stealing a 14 dollar knee brace. I am overwhelmed with guilt for this was my first offense.If I could take it back I would. I handed back the brace, and taken into a back office they asked me for my name, school address, and phone number. The police were not contacted and I am not kicked out of the store because of my cooperation.. but the kmart security worker said that I could expect to recieve a civil demand fine. Do civil fines go on your criminal record? Because the civil fine will be written up by Kmart will it be tracable info for future employeers? Also, is it possible that after they escorted me out they contacted the police. I really hope that my once pure criminal record isn’t tarnished by a dumb mistake that will be never again made. PLEASE HELP!!
      Dear Kappy: Most likely you will receive a letter in the mail requiring payment of a fine. Pay it on time and the matter should be closed. Civil fines usually don’t appear on criminal records, and future employers don’t receive notice of these incidents. Hopefully, you’ve learned something from this experience. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jen
      Wed, 07 Apr 2010 at 08:52

      My name is Jen i’m 18yrs old 17 at the time, i was caught shoplifting at kohls and the total was over 50$ (200$), i signed the papers saying that i was banned from kohls. they called the police and i was taken to the Police Department. I had to stay overnight. I was supposed to see the judge and all that but my parents have connections so they called the mayor and the chief of police and i was released. they put my time served as community service. i was not charged with shoplifting, thank god, but i did get the civil claim letter from Kohls stating that i had to pay a $200.00 fine. it says that my “failure to pay this amount may cause Kohl’s to make Further effort to enforce its rights under the law.” (This demand is made pursuant to Texas Civil Practice & remedies Code’ 134.005) this is my second notice, my dad is a Srgt. at a prison and he says that they are bluffing and i shouldnt pay it because i dont even have a charge. but i’d rather be safe then sorry. what should i do? i sort of think this is bluffing, and i’ve learned from my mistake. i dont think they would go through all the trouble and expenses of taking me to court? what do you think
      Dear Jen: Under the law, victims of shoplifting may pursue prosecution by filing a complaint with the police. They may also seek payment of the civil fine, or both. If you choose to ignore their demand letter, don’t be surprised if you receive a notice to appear in court on a charge of shoplifting. The fact that you have received a second letter indicates they are serious about this incident and intend to enforce their rights to the fullest extent. It’s your decision how to handle this. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Mat
      Wed, 07 Apr 2010 at 09:28

      If I accidentally took an item from a shop when I was 5 or 6 could I still get in trouble now? I feel really guilty even though it happened 8 years ago. It wandnt an expensive item I think it was a bottle opener? Please help!
      Dear Mat: After eight years, it’s highly unlikely that you’d be in any trouble now. We think you could relax and learn from the experience. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • James
      Fri, 09 Apr 2010 at 08:45

      I’m 17 and I was caught shoplifting at Nordstroms in California. When they got me I was too scared so I tried to run. When they checked me I had pliers, but I told them I have no used them. The police said I needed to go to court. They said I have a felony, but on the paper they gave me it didn’t circle any. I just received a letter a letter by the county saying that i’m going to be assigned to a probation officer and wll be notified in 45 days. Does that mean I still have to go to court? And will will happen next?
      Dear James: Wait until you hear from the probation officer. If this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion. That means if you complete some community service, pay a fine, attend counseling or a class, the matter may be closed. Even if you go to court on this, you could still end up with similar consequences. The probation officer will explain the process to you, including your right to plead not guilty and go to trial on the charge. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Ashish
      Sat, 10 Apr 2010 at 04:19

      Hey,I live in India in Maharashtra.I was 13 to 14 years old and i got caught in a Car Logo(The symbol on car representing its company)theft.I was carried to police and i was proved to be the thief.But after some interrogation,the police left me.They took my name and addresse.Will there be any record against me?
      This is my first offence.I wasnt sent to jail also.I was caught by 5 in evening and left by 12:00..Will there be any record???Will i get a good job if there is a record against me??Please answer my question..I will be very thankful to u.
      Dear Ashish: Under the laws of your country, there may be a record of this incident. You’d have to ask a lawyer there or someone familiar with your laws about that. If you didn’t go to court or be placed on probation, there’s probably no official court record. The police may have kept their own record in case you got into more trouble later on. Any future job applications shouldn’t be affected either unless you were convicted of a charge. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Lylee
      Sat, 10 Apr 2010 at 01:01

      Iam 26 years old. I got caught shopfiting at Shopko in Madison, Wisconsin. The stuff worth about $30-40. This is the first time and Iam scared don’t know what to do. I never been in trouble and have a clean record. The people in the store took me to a backroom and take down my name,ID,SS#,address infos asked where I work. Than call the police and the police wrote me a $303 Court Citation. He said that this will be like a speeding ticket…. So what does this mean? I never gotten a speed ticket before. He said, just pay the citation on time. On the citation it said no mamdatory appearance. So, I didn’t have to go to court. I don’t know why I did it and it stupid. Will never do it again. So I pay the citation a on time and a couples of weeks later I got a letter in the mail from SHOPKO for a civil demand.

      If I just pay the civil demand and the store doesn’t press charges or anything will this whole incident pretty much go away? As in I don’t have to worry about it anymore cause the whole thing will be over. If I had to do a background check or something in the future,this would not show up right?

      I am just really worried that this will come back to me somehow in the future and how this will affect me. And how to answer in the job application if asked if I have commited a crime so forth. I didn’t go to court or to jail. As far as I know. The police didn’t say anything about completed community service or program at all. Please, Please help me. I really don’t know what’s going to happen to my background record and if so how long will it be on record or forever? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.
      Dear Lylee: You’ll have to check your state laws about shoplifting to see what is required of you when you get caught. Google “shoplifting laws” and your state’s name for the specifics. When you pay the civil demand, there isn’t a court record of the incident and you haven’t been convicted of anything. Only when you’re officially charged and you go to court can you be “convicted” of a crime. In future applications for a job, enrollment at school, etc. read the questions carefully and answer them truthfully. Language is very important on all applications. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Nicole
      Sun, 11 Apr 2010 at 01:17

      i am 18 years old and i got caught shoplifting at walmart in louisiana. the amount was $10.12 and the manager said he wasnt calling the cops because the amount was so small. they took my license and made a copy of it. he also said that i would be getting a letter in the mail where i would have to pay restitution. how will this affect my applications for future jobs? how much restitution should i expect to pay for $10?
      Dear Nicole: The letter you’ll recieve from the store calls for payment of a “civil demand.” Around the country they range from $100 to $300 dollars. Once paid, the matter is closed and you don’t have a record. It shouldn’t have any affect on future job or school applications. If you don’t pay it, the store may press formal shoplifting charges against you which could result in a record. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Devon
      Mon, 12 Apr 2010 at 02:10

      HELLO I AM 31 YEARS OLD I GOT CAUGHT SHOPLIFTING AND WAS ON CAMERA I TOLD THEM WHAT I HAD AND BROUGHT WHAT I COULD BACK BUT I SIGNED A PROMISSORY NOTE STATING THAT I OWE 1,499, FOR A LAPTOP, NO POLICE WERE CALLED OR INVOLVED, WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I PAY THE FEE FOR THE LAPTOP OR WILL THERE BE A TRIAL BECAUSE LOSS PREVENTION TOOK REPORTS FORM THE OTHER GUY INVOLVED, I M SCARED BECAUSE THEY CAN PROSECUTE ME AT ANY TIME, BUT ALL THEY SAID I WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR WAS THE 1,499 ITEM ARE THEY INVESTIGATING ME FOR OTHER ITEMS MISSING
      Dear Devon: Askthejudge.info is a website for teenagers about the law. We do not provide legal advice to adults or teens on any subject. Ordinarily when you pay the “civil demand” the store doesn’t pursue criminal charges. However, if the local prosecutor decides to file charges, you’ll be notified and then you can discuss your options with an attorney. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • billy
      Mon, 12 Apr 2010 at 09:06

      hi, i was caught in plymouth, MA shoplifting from walmart. i was with my friend who also shoplifted. i stole 26$ worth of merchandies where she stole about 10$. it was my first time but her second. she was caught from a different walmart before. they took our liscenses and took down our information. they called the police who came and took down our information. they said to wait for the mail and they would ask us to go to court and pay the fines. my friend who was caught before did not have to go to court, and i can not afford to go to court and get in more trouble. i just wanted to know if i would have to go to court if i went and paid the fee. also i am 17 and she is 18, what is going to happen to her as an 18 year old second offender?
      Dear Billy: As a second-time offender and an adult [at 18], your friend may be charged with shoplifting and have to go to court. She may be offered diversion which means when she completes community service, pays restitution, attends a class or counseling the matter may be closed. The same options may be available to you as a first-time offender. Don’t miss your court date or things will get worse. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Ashley
      Wed, 14 Apr 2010 at 10:49

      Last weekend, I was caught shoplifting at a walmart in ma for the second time. The first time I got caught was about 7 months ago. I stole about 25$ worth of stuff. Got a fine in the mail for 250$, paid it, and the matter was done with. This time all I took was one eyeliner that cost 5$. The first time I got cought, I was 17. But I am 18 now. Although when I got caught for the first time, they said that I am ‘an adult in the eyes of walmart’. The same thing that happend last time happend this time. They took my info, the cops came in to scare me and tell me that I was going to get a letter in the mail with a fine and possibly a court date. Last time I was with two other girls. They both had stuff too, but only like 10$ worth. They never got a fine or anything. Since it’s my second time I am scared of whats going to happen, even though it was only 5$.
      Dear Ashley: The value of the item taken isn’t as important as the act itself. Since this is your second time, the store may decide to file formal shoplifting charges against you. If they do, you’ll get a notice in the mail to appear in court on a certain date. Don’t miss it or things may get worse. You may be offered diversion which means if you complete some community service, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter will again be closed. It’s up to the court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Noel
      Thu, 15 Apr 2010 at 02:09

      i stole from the clothing store hollister and left the store. i am 17 years old and i got arrested. the clothing had no holes and i gave everything back. the amount stolen was $282. can you be fined for that amount and what could you face?
      Dear Noel: Depending on the laws in your state, you may be fined for the value of the clothes as well as a civil penalty called a “civil demand” that the store may require you to pay. That could be an additional few hundred dollars. Think before shoplifting again – the consequences increase, especially after you become a legal adult at 18. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jake
      Fri, 16 Apr 2010 at 11:59

      what will happen to me if i stole a bottle from the store but gave the bottle back then ran
      Dear Jake: If the bottle you returned wasn’t damaged in any way and could placed back on the shelf for sale, the store may decide to let it go this time. They could also notify the police and give them any identifying information they have about you. Your last second change of heart was good – think twice before being tempted again. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • John
      Sat, 17 Apr 2010 at 01:33

      Alright so here is the story. First off i went to toysRus and i stole from there, i didnt get caught and i went with my friends to kmart. i decided to take something and i got caught for it . my total was around 70 dollars and i was wonder how much would you think my fine would be and can i pay off my fine by doing community service hours? By the way i am 14 years old and my first time offence
      Dear John: As a first-time offender, you may be offered diversion. That means you may have to complete some community work hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling and then the matter is closed. The fine is up to the court and depends on your state’s law on shoplifting. The store could also require you to pay what is called a “civil demand” usually $100 to $300. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jonny
      Mon, 19 Apr 2010 at 02:22

      i recently stole from niemans…..the item was amounted to $65…. i was arrested for about 17hours, finger printed, photo was taken the whole nine…then i was sent to another holding sell..but later on released that morning andi was told to appear in court…im 18 and this is my first offence..any advice on what will happen when i appear in court?
      Dear Johnny: Since this is your first offense and the amount shoplifted is low, you may be offered diversion. That means upon completion of community work hours, payment of a fine or restitution to the store, attending a class or counseling, the matter may be closed. If you plead not guilty and go to trial, which is your choice, the consequences may be similar if you’re found guilty. Penalties increase as offenses continue. Think twice the next time you’re tempted. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • DeVon Sills
      Mon, 19 Apr 2010 at 06:46

      I was previsouly with my god brother and my god cousin. We all went to the mall and my brother and I both went into sears so that i can purchase some clothes for after prom. So that after I decided to look out the door and see yell to my cousin to come here. The next thing I know I 2 big sercurity guards come and tell me I’ve been caught shopplifing. But I didnt take andy tags off and I had enough cash for what i wanted? Do you think the judge will just drop the case and the judge just might forget about it and i dont get no mail nor a phone call to my house, so that my mom want find out ither and im only age 17.
      Dear Devon: If a shoplifting charge has been filed and you have to go to court, it’s not likely the judge will just “drop the case.” He or she may dismiss the case after you explain what happened. The best thing to do now is to tell your Mom so she doesn’t find out in the mail or from a phone call from the court. Tell her exactly what happened and she’ll advise you on how to proceed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • DeVon Sills
      Mon, 19 Apr 2010 at 06:56

      Ok but do you think that how explained it to you do you think im going to have to pay a fine if i didnt steal nothing!
      Dear Devon: No one can say for sure what will happen. It depends on so many variables that you’ll have to wait and see. Just be honest and polite when you go to court.[This is information only - not legal advice].

    • nikki
      Tue, 20 Apr 2010 at 11:09

      i live in Illinois i was charged with retail theft when i was 17 and now im 18 and im wondering if that will show up on a background check because im trying to get a job.
      Dear Nikki: It could show up on a background check depending on how the charge was handled. If you went through a diversion program and completed it, there is likely no adjudication or conviction on your record. If you plead guilty and completed the consequence [probation, fine, work hours, etc] there may not be an official record since you were a minor. Now that you’re 18 and assuming no longer under the court’s jurisdiction, you may be eligible to apply for an expunged record. Check with either the court you were in or the assigned court/probation officer about this. He or she should be able to tell you how to clear your record, if you have one. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Martha
      Tue, 20 Apr 2010 at 12:44

      If you are inside walmart and you had an item in you hand aka nail glue but set it down somewhere in the store because you realized you didnt need it and paid for all of your items and as you were leaving two security guards pulled you aside and accused you of stealing and took you to the security room wrote down your information and took a picture and told you since you are saying that you didnt steal it and had nail glue from nails you bought two days ago and had the reciept to prove it at home and you gave that one to them and it happened to be the same brand and they said they half believed you so they weren’t going to press charges and no one else would see the picture or your information( home address, phone number, weight, eye color ect.) and they gave you a warning since you have never stolen and they were making it your first offense are they going to charge you?

    • Martha
      Tue, 20 Apr 2010 at 12:55

      this goes with my other one above…i am 20 they didnt call the police and i even offered to pay for what i supposibly took wich was $2.00 and i had exactly that in cash cuz they asked how much cash i had on me. but they told me no because they weren’t going to call the police or press charges and that i wasn’t banned but i would be watched closely next time. I’m not scared I just want to know what to prepare myself for because im very angry. My sister was with me and said that the lady had been following us from the very
      moment we walked into the store and to me that is suspicious. so any help would be great.
      Dear Martha: We’re answering both of your questions together since they apply to the same incident. It doesn’t sound like you have to worry about being charged with anything since you explained what you did and they seem satisfied with your story. Just to be safe you might want to hold on to the receipt for the earlier nail glue for a while just in case you hear something further on this. Be extra careful next time you’re in the store, especially since they told you about being watched. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Allison
      Tue, 20 Apr 2010 at 01:05

      My friend (she is 19) tried to steal something from Claire’s and got caught yesterday – I (20) was with her in the store but did NOT steal anything and never intended to. The manager, however, claimed that I was her “lookout” and I wound up with a Notice to Appear and wound up in the back of a squad car – in handcuffs! – despite the $5.00 item having been in HER front pocket and my assertion to the officer that I had not stolen anything. They searched me and confirmed this.

      What is going to happen to me? Can I call anyone to find out if I will be charged based on what the manager says? There are apparently no floor cameras in the store so there is no video record of her stealing and me NOT stealing except the manager’s word, and I am unsure what to expect. I am a full-time student and have no record.Dear Allison: Since you received a Notice to Appear, the process will be explained to you at that time. Don’t miss the hearing or appointment that’s scheduled for you, otherwise it may result in the issuance of a warrant. If you are charged with shoplifting, you may plead not guilty and make the state prove that you broke the law. You may also be offered diversion, if you admit the charge. That means when you complete some community work, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter is closed. You can discuss all these options when you attend the hearing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jessica
      Tue, 20 Apr 2010 at 05:36

      I got caught shoplifitng from Kohls-$150 worth of stuff. I was arrested and I have a court date. Im willing to pay any fines and do any community service or whatnot. The problem is, I was planning on moving to Alaska May 25th, i already had the plane tickets and all, my court date is May 3rd. Will I still be able to move even if I get probation? I live in Georgia, is there anyway I can complete my probation and/or community service in Alaska?
      Dear Jessica: These are good questions that may affect others in your situation. Make sure you let the court officer you’ll meet with on May 3 and the judge know what’s going on. The court will likely take your move into consideration and possibly give you additional time to complete any work hours ordered or other consequences imposed. If this is your first offense, you may not be placed on probation but be trusted to comply with the court’s orders. Failure to comply, even if you’re out of state, can result in a warrant and your return to the court’s jurisdiction. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Victoria
      Tue, 20 Apr 2010 at 06:17

      hi, im 19 and i got caught stealing $60 worth of clothes form a store. they called the police, but they let me go becasue it was my first offence, but i have a courtdate. whats going to happen at court? am i going to go on probation? (how long) i was told i was going to have to pay a fine, are they going to put me in jail for this? i dont have a lawyer (i cant afford one) ….please help
      Dear Victoria: Be sure to make your court date. Because of your age and the fact that this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community work hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter will be closed. You may not be placed on probation, but even if you are, it will likely be short-term as long as you complete your terms and stay out of trouble. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • shanikia
      Tue, 20 Apr 2010 at 08:21

      my friend and i just got caught shoplifting for the first time about two days ago i was so scared. all together we took 300 worth of clothes. i didnt go to jail when they caught me. does this mean there is a possiblility that i can go to jail on my court date or even carter hall and i was already on probation also does that make it worse? what do i do idk what to do i just wanna know if i have to go to jail or carterhall
      :( someone help me!
      Dear Shanikia: You should be worried. You’re on probation and you got caught stealing – not a good thing. It’s entirely up to the judge to decide the consequences – it may mean some time in detention, juvie, lockup, whatever you call it in your state. Either way, the judge may feel it’s time to get your attention so, when you’re released, you’ll follow your probation terms to the letter. You may luck out this time and be continued on probation with additional terms and no lock up. It’s time to take probation seriously. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Allison
      Wed, 21 Apr 2010 at 02:37

      Same Allison as above – sorry to bother you again! I heard the manager saying to security that there are no floor cameras, so it’s essentially the manager’s word against mine that I didn’t do anything because there is no video evidence. The stolen item was in her pocket, however. Do you think that the judge would take this into account? I cannot afford a lawyer in the event that I have to plead not guilty, and though the diversion might be easier, it’s an admission to something I very plainly did not do!
      Dear Allison: If you are appointed a public defender, you need to talk to him or her about your concerns. However, many jurisdictions do not appoint public defenders in matters involving no mandatory jail time. You will likely have an opportunity during your first court appearance to speak with a court officer as well as a prosecutor. Finally, you could try contacting a local criminal attorney. Many attorneys offer a free initial consultation. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • James
      Thu, 22 Apr 2010 at 12:18

      Hello there! I sent you a message couple weeks ago about my story. They sent me a letter to go meet up at juvie to talk. Does that mean I won’t have to go to court? Will this be settled outside of court?
      Dear James: It could mean that they will offer you a diversion program which may be handled outside of court. You will learn more when you show up for your “talk”. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • John
      Thu, 22 Apr 2010 at 10:23

      Hi,

      I posted a few weeks ago about a pair of earings that I had attempted to take as a kind of “dare”. It has been three weeks now and I haven’t heard anything. Also, there is a website I got on from the advice of a friend in law school which shows all the dockets in my county. There has been nothing filed there. I’m a little concerned (and i know you cannot give me advice) because I think the chances of them filing criminal charges at this point are not good, but my lawyer says they are (we had agreed to him refunding me all but $200 if the files were never actually charged). I guess my question is simply this. I was caught shoplifting on April 3rd 2010, and have received no notice of criminal charges or civil demands in the mail. What are the chances I still will and how much longer should I expect to wait if they “most likely will charge me” as my lawyer is telling me.
      Dear John: Whether you’re formally charged depends on a number of factors: the size of your city, how busy your local prosecutor’s office is, the strength of the case against you, etc. It’s not uncommon for the process to take several months after the incident. The statute of limitations in your state may allow up to one year to file on a misdemeanor. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jaime
      Thu, 22 Apr 2010 at 04:42

      Hi I went to a fast food place today and the total came out to be more then I expected $12.21 I got a little scared because that was the first time it had happened to me so I left all the money I had which were $10 and left the place. A couple of minutes later the police caught up to me and stopped me and asked me questions like my name, address and age , I’m 18. I told them everything without lying and in the end they only told me to go and to never go back to that mall. What will happen to me in this situation? Will this go on my record and if it does is there a way to clean it up? once again this is the first time something like this has happened to me and also I am not a legal resident and I live in D.C but the incident happened in Arlington, VA.
      Dear Jaime: You may have lucked out this time with just a warning from the police. On the other hand, since they took your name and address, you may receive a “civil demand” letter in the mail from the store. It is a request for payment of a fine, usually from $100 to $200. Pay it on time and the matter will be closed. Otherwise the store may request that formal charges be filed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Andrew
      Thu, 22 Apr 2010 at 06:04

      I got caught shoplifting at Macy’s. I caught stealing $122 worth of merchandise. They held me in the back for a couple of hours and made me sign a document saying that I will not be able to go back to Macy’s for three years. They said that I should be expecting a civil claim / civil demand that will make me a fine for this incident. I want to know because I was not booked/arrested by the police and I did not sign any citations from the police, will I have to worry about receiving or hearing from the courts regarding this incident?
      The guy said that they tried to call the police department to come get me but they were busy, so they decided to let me go. I want to know if the courts will ever notify me to go to court regarding this incident? Does Macy’s report these incidents to the police department for further action?
      Dear Andrew: Since the police were not involved and you weren’t given a ticket or notice to appear in court, you probably won’t have to go to court. It sounds like the store has decided to handle this through the civil demand process only. So, once you receive the letter, make sure you pay the fine on time and this matter should be over. Think twice before stealing again – you may not be so lucky next time. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Rae Kathleen Padgett
      Thu, 22 Apr 2010 at 10:20

      Hello Judge,
      I have a 15 year old daughter that got caught shoplifting $346 worth in Sears. We are in the state of Florida so over 300 is a felony. She has no criminal record, we were all shocked because this is not like her. She has always been a good girl, involved with the church, sings in the competition for the church, and is involved in fine arts. She goes to a Christian school, however this year her grades have began to drop. But this is so not like her, I think she was stealing for someone else but she won’t tell me a name. I am worried about what to expect in
      court, I don’t want her to go to jail. I don’t know if I should get a Attorney I mean what good would it do they caught her red handed. Even more than that I am worried about her and I don’t know how to deal with this. I have to be honest with myself and know that she didn’t just wake up and decide to shoplift, there
      has to be other problems that I don’t know about. I don’t know how much more sheltered she can be besides taking her out of school and homeschooling her and not letting her have friends
      at church. She wasn’t even at the mall by herself my mom was with her, however she was waiting for her in the car, my daughter was suppose to run to the bathroom and then come out to the car. Maybe she has been too sheltered and I have another daughter 10 yrs old that I won’t let walk around the block like the other kids and in a high risk pregnancy with another girl on the way. I read that over 300 dollars in Florida sentence could be up to 5 yrs in jail? Would that be true for a minor with no record? I am sooo worried. Thank you for your time.
      Dear Ms. Padgett: Since this is your daughter’s first offense and considering her age, it’s not likely that she’ll be locked up. She may be offered diversion which means that she’ll have to complete some community work hours, attend a class or counseling, and pay restitution to the store. Once she follows the terms of diversion, the case will be closed. When you go to court for her hearing, discuss the situation with the court or probation officer. He or she should have some suggestions to help you and your daughter in the future. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Lilly
      Sat, 24 Apr 2010 at 10:08

      My friend and I were “caught” shoplifting, but denied anything, and the woman just let us go without a word no security or anything. Should I be worried about the situation ? (under $4)
      Dear Lilly: It sounds like you got a break this time. Without any names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. you’re not likely to hear from anyone about this. If she does have your name and address, you may receive a civil demand letter in the mail requiring you to pay a fine. Once it’s paid the matter will be closed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Frank Jones
      Sun, 25 Apr 2010 at 12:06

      Hi, I am 17 and my friends and I went to haunted trails for the night and i shot invisible ink all over the windows because when I shot it at my friend it missed and hit the window. I didn’t say anything because I knew that part of Haunted Trails closing routine was to clean the windows. So, I left waiting for my friend who drove to come outside. He was taking long so I went back in and the security guards said” Hey, come here” So i did and he responds” Why did you spray invisible ink all over the window?” “You can be charged with criminal defamation.” I said “I didn’t” He says”Stop lying you did and you know you did” I DID NOT say anything to this statement. He says “come here and fill out this paper with your name, address, and your parents phone #” I put my name and parents phone number not my address though. He called my mom and got her voicemail and said “Hi, this is ***** from haunted trails security. We have your son ***** ***** here and we just want to inform you we have detained him for spraying ink on our windows. If you have any questions call us at ***-***-****. He also left the door open in front of 5 of my friend and my friends cousins, so he could embarrass me. Is there anything I can do here. I feel he treated me unfairly and tryed to hurt my reputation by letting my friends hear everything that was going on. Also, was i required to show him ID or even go with him to the room? He said I could be charged with criminal defamation. Did he falsely accuse me?
      Dear Frank: When you’re on someone else’s property, whether it’s public or private, you’re expected to respect it and not do any damage, intentional or otherwise. He was in his right to question you about it and take some information about your identity. About embarassing you in front of your friends. there’s little you can do about that. It’s the price of being out in public. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sam Kay
      Sun, 25 Apr 2010 at 05:23

      Dear Judge Tom,
      Yesterday I made the biggest, stupidest mistake ever by shoplifting, and I have learned my lesson. I don’t know what i was thinking, it’s not like me. It was embarrassing, selfish, an eye opener and I will never do it again.

      I was with my best friend and we’re both 16 at a Rite Aid store in the state of California. We shoplifted make-up, a mascara and coverup, both pricing around $30. I put it in my friends purse. As we walked out of the store, the man came out showed us an id and told us to come back in the store for the makeup we have stolen. we cooperated so we wouldnt get in more trouble and he started getting our addresses #’s names height parents names etc. He said we would have to call our parents/guardians. My bestfriend is really close to me and her aunt came to pick her up. However i didn’t want to call my mom so the Man released me to my bf’s aunt. He said it wouldnt be a criminal record, shown or interfere at our school, but we would be getting a check from $50-500. I’m stressing and i cant sleep because i really hope i wont have to pay $500. I know im lucky because they didnt call the cops and make it a criminal thing and i will pay it but,

      My questions are: When will we be expecting the letter or check? How much will it be for the items stolen? Will my friend and I pay two seperate prices? Can i be filed criminal charges?

      I’m so sorry I have committed this act, and now that ive been researching it i see the gravity of it. Please can you answer my questions or give me a bit of guidance . thanks so much
      Dear Sam: We’re glad you’re remorseful about this incident. Hopefully you’ve learned something. You’ll receive a letter in the mail requiring you to pay what is called a “civil demand.” As you were told it could be between $50 and $500. Pay it on time and the matter will be closed. You may be able to set up a payment plan with the store. Read the letter carefully for the details. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Matt
      Sun, 25 Apr 2010 at 08:20

      I am 16 years old and I was caught shoplifting at a local store for a drink worth around 2 dollars. This is my first offense and I was taken into a small security room and then later arrested where they took my photo and fingerprints. Shortly after, my sister came to pick me up. Is there a possibility that I won’t have to go to court? Also, if I do go to court and am in a diversion program, will I have to pay court fees and fines? Would you know an estimate of how much I would have to pay?
      Dear Matt: There is a possibility you won’t have to go to court. If you weren’t given a ticket or don’t receive a summons in the mail to appear in court, then you got lucky this time. You may receive a letter from the store requiring payment of a “civil demand” which could be several hundred dollars. Pay it on time and the matter will be closed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Bri
      Mon, 26 Apr 2010 at 10:30

      Dear Judge,
      I shoplifted two years ago in 2008. I stole a gift card that was worth 17.00 from work. At the time I was 19 and I live in GA. The Lady from lost & prevention questioned me and I told her everything. i admitted to it, cried, told her why I did it, and even gave her some tips as to how other people were stealing. She had to terminate me from my job and she had me fill out a detailed paper on what happened, took my finger print, social and address. I felt awful. It was my first offense. I even went back the next day and wrote a letter that apologized to the entire company and the store manager. I also returned the items and the gift card(without them asking) to the manager personally and I told him my reason for doing that was because I did not want something that I did not rightfully purchase. Now it has been 2 years and I havent heard anything from them. I never got a fine, or call, or court date, or letter or anything! Last summer i applied for jobs but never could get hired. A friend of mine is an officer and he told me if the police are not involved I dont have to worry about it being on my record or anything. But today I have an interview and I just wanted to be honest. So is their a possibility that the incident could be on my record? Should I put yes for criminal background? I havent had anything else happen when it comes to get in trouble. I never even had a ticket. and agian they never contacted me in anyway in two years. Could they put it on my record without telling me? Please help me as much as you can. Thank you so much!
      Dear Bri: Since it’s been two years and you haven’t gone to court or received any notice of charges filed, then you’re most likely in the clear. You shouldn’t have a record from this incident. So as far as completing applications, read the questions carefully and answer truthfully. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jenny Chen
      Mon, 26 Apr 2010 at 03:08

      Hi, i am 19 and i was caught shoplifting 2-3weeks ago. I wasnt sure who i was caught by, a police or just security guard in the store. He had me filled out my information and said they would mail me a letter,and i have to pay for it, and will be a problem for me if i try to find a job in the future. What i want to know is, how long it takes for me to get the mail, and if i dont get it, will it appear on ,my credit statement? Please let me know as soon as possible.
      Thank you!
      Dear Jenny: This incident shouldn’t appear on your credit report. Depending on the size of your city and volume of cases the store handles, it could take several weeks or months before you hear from them. When you do, pat the “civil demand” on time and the matter will be closed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Bri
      Tue, 27 Apr 2010 at 06:35

      Thank you so much for the information. I just have one more question. When they took my info I gave them my college address and my home address (where my parents live). I also gave them my cell phone number and home phone number. So if they did mail or call then they would have founf a way to let me know right? Just curious because it has been two years and I havent heeard anything at all.
      Dear Bri: You’re right – with all that contact information, they would have reached you by now. We think you can relax at this point.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Bri
      Tue, 27 Apr 2010 at 05:04

      Thankyou God Bless!!!

    • Jessica
      Tue, 27 Apr 2010 at 07:29

      Hello, a month after I had turned 15 I was caught shoplifting at Nordstrom. I had to pay a fine and am banned from the store for 2 years. I am now 16 and it will be 2 years in August since then. If I’m planning on applying for a job now, will it affect my chances? Will I have to write that I was caught shoplifting on my application?
      Dear Jessica: If you’re applying for a job at Nordstrom’s, you should admit the incident. They probably have a record of it including the two-year ban. Otherwise, if you’re applying at other stores, read the questions on the application very carefully and answer truthfully. Since you didn’t go to court, you weren’t convicted and don’t have an official record of a criminal act. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jacob
      Wed, 28 Apr 2010 at 01:59

      hey what would happen if i got cought stealing alchol in the state of nevada im 17 years old, thanks
      Dear Jacob: Since you’re under 21, stealing alcohol could result in being charged with theft and possession of alcohol. You’d be facing a judge who could place you on probation with terms that you’d have to follow. Depending on he laws in Nevada you could also be ordered to spend some time in detention. That would be up to the judge. Good luck, and think twice before breaking any law.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • V
      Wed, 28 Apr 2010 at 09:24

      I just turned 18 a few months ago and got caught shoplifting an item in a grocery store worth $3.99 (in MN). My information was taken, the item was returned to the store, I was banned there for one year, and the police were called. I was cooperative, correct information was given, and I received a citation to appear in court. I have a spotless record, never done something like this before; stupidest decision, I honestly just didn’t have the money, I’m in college, live away from home (although I don’t get money from parents) and have $8 to last another 2 weeks. I know that its a misdemeanor charge, but because the value of the item was so low, can it get reduced lower (ike to an infraction, because then it wouldn’t appear on a background check)? If so, how? And is there any way that it will not show up on a background check for future employers? What would a typical fine be? I’m assuming there would be monthly payment plans? I’m so embarasssed about it, and glad I’m 18 because I don’t want any of my family to know about it.
      Dear Victoria: First, relax a little about this. Since this is your first offense and you have to go to court, you’ll probably be offered a diversion program. That means when you complete some community work hours, pay a fine, or attend a class then the matter will be closed. At a certain point, maybe after one year, you can ask the court to expunge your record. If granted then you won’t have any record to worry about. Ask the court or probation officer about this when you go. Explain your circumstances and you’ll be given a payment schedule if you receive a fine. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Shantaal Golding
      Thu, 29 Apr 2010 at 01:16

      Sorry, that post was by mistake.
      O.k, so speaking of mistakes. I have definitely made those. I am in my 20s. Was stopped at grocery store for having items in bag, but did not exit the store yet. I was still shopping. I was stopped and interrogated by store manager and was taken back. Cop was called after I was apprehended (which was not pretty how it happened, I was bullied and tackled,detained and bag was taken away from me by force and searched with out police being there yet). Although I have no priors on record, I have taken things from this particular store in the past(to which I deeply regret and still in disbelief I was ever capable of doing it). When I think about the other times, I shudder at the fact. I think that is why I was caught, was bc of past incidents. I am so ashamed of me and need help. I hate what I’ve done and regret it for the rest of my life. I already have a lawyer on this. But I’m ashamed to tell her everything for fear of her judging me (isn’t that sad?). I am given the offer to do a misdemeanor intervention program by prosecutor. I want to do this bc I want no more trouble. It has been almost 2 months since the incident. Can they look at past videos and try to get me for things in the past even after completing program and paid dues? In the prosecutor report, it states no video evidence of the incident on the date I was charged. Lawyer says if it’s not on report, they can’t use it in court. All I want is to put this all behind me. I am not a bad person and I never cause trouble. It makes me sick to know that I have been doing this and not realizing how harmful it is to myself and my community.
      I also want to know what are merchant’s rights in apprehending me with force? I hear different things. Even my lawyer can’t seem to give a clear answer since the police report is not concise and thorough. I know I should tell her (my lawyer) everything. When I presented the case I did not tell her whether I was guilty or not. Just facts from the yellow ticket. She pled not guilty on arraignment. This happened in FL, and just need some more answers. I am scared if the store will try to get me for more things. I did not sign the papers that they tried to coerce me to in the back, I was too scared to admit to anything. I don’t want any more trouble. My lawyer thinks we can stand a chance, based on what she sees in prosecutor’s discovery and police report. I think store is waiting to see if I take it to court and then try to use tapes. Do you think this is the case? HELP! What should I do?
      I know this is so much at once but I could use some outside advice. Should I tell my lawyer everything? Should I just enter MIP program and put it all behind me? Can the store get me on other charges even after this one is dismissed?
      I am also thinking of going to seek therapy or counseling. I hear that ppl like me can be repeat offenders in the future and I do not want to fall in that category. I don’t want to steal or deprive anyone of anything. I am sorry for what I have done and want to make it right. Advice would be greatly appreciated.
      Dear Shantaal: Askthejudge.info is a web site for teenagers about the law. We do not provide legal advice to adults or teens. In your situation, you have to decide how much you’re willing to tell your lawyer. Remember, what you tell her is confidential and she’s represents only you and your interests. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Anas ALglid
      Thu, 29 Apr 2010 at 07:04

      i was stole from store in Montana state, some perfume and other stuff and they took me in the security office and took down my information and called a police women as well. She got my information down as well and called it in and gave me a ticket for my court date, and told me i just have to go to court. and i wanna know what might happen? .. this is my first time and trust me i will never do it again.. but i also want to came back to USA and I have an interview a few weeks in united state embssy in my country.is this big promblem for me to get new visa?.but i worring about my crimal record. Will it stay on my record for life? it this case record forever for me background scerity.pleas answer to me
      Dear Anas: First, be sure to appear on the day your court date is set. Missing the hearing will not help your situation. Since this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service hours, pay a fine or attend a class, the matter will be closed. After a period of time [maybe a year or so] you can apply for your record to be expunged. Ask the court/probation officer about his when you go to court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Elle
      Thu, 29 Apr 2010 at 04:23

      Hello. I was shoplifting today and i got caught. They took me into a back room, wrote out some paperwork saying that i can never go back into the store and then they called the police. The police handcuffed me, took my prints and picture, and put me in a room until my parents got there. They didnt pay any bond or anything to get me out. They said i may/may not be called for court depending on what is decided. If i do go to court what will i face? I just turned 17 and i live in Illinois. If im charged will it go on my permanent record? It was like, $25 worth of stuff. I just saw that a new law in illinois says that a misdemeanor for shoplifting means its a juvenile thing and i wont be charged as an adult. Is this true? I regret it very much and i dont want this to affect me for the rest of my life. Please help me.
      Dear Elle: Since this is your first offense, you’ll likely be offered diversion when you go to court. That means when you complete some community work hours, pay a fine or attend a class, the matter will be closed. After a period of time [usually a year or so] you can apply for expungement of your record. Then you won’t have to worry about a record as an adult. Ask the court/probation officer you’ll meet with when you go to court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • James
      Thu, 29 Apr 2010 at 05:14

      Hi its me again and i told you my story earlier on April 9th. I got a letter to go to juvie and talk. But now I just got a letter saying I have a second degree burglary. This is my first offense ever. Is there anyway I don’t have to go to court? Can I settle this outside of court? What can I do?
      Dear James: Check both letters and see if there is a case number that matches. It sounds like the same incident that you’re required to go to court for. Don’t miss the hearing. You’ll have a chance to talk with a court/probation officer and review your options. Bring a parent with you as well. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Oliver
      Fri, 30 Apr 2010 at 09:57

      Dear Judge,
      hi i am from Germany . On September 9th 2008, my friend and I went to a clothing store named “Rose” where we bought some clothes. At the time of our entry to the store my friend and I were both carrying hand bags. Approximately three and a half hours later, we went to another store by the name of “Shopka” in order to buy other items as we were planning to leave the USA on Oct 8th 2008. We stayed inside the store for approximately 40 minutes. During that time, my friend purchased a bag. We then went to the cashier to pay for what we have purchased. We paid and headed towards the exit door, when the theft alarm started to sound off. At that time a female approached us and asked to see what was inside our bags. We told her that our bags contained some clothes, a pair of shoes and other miscellaneous items. The female then searched the bag and found some new clothes, so she asked if we had a receipt. I told her that we had bought some clothes from the “Rose” store. When I asked my friend about the receipt, he told me that he threw it away and that he didn’t know he was supposed to keep it. The female employee and two male security guards didn’t believe us and said that if we admit to taking these items from this store, they will resolve this matter. We told them again that we purchased such items from another store, but they said that if you admit to taking it from this store we will resolve the case; otherwise, we will call the police. When we stood by our statement, the security guards called the police. When the police officers arrived, they asked where we got the items from. We told them again that we purchased the items from another store and that we don’t have a receipt because my friend threw it away. We told the police officers that we didn’t know laws in the USA. The police officers told us that we are under arrest for theft and that we must accompany them to the police station. They then put each of us in a separate police vehicle and drove us to the police department. They also confiscated our bags. We were then processed for pre booking. The police department officials told us that we can either stay in jail or pay a release bond and appear in court on October 18th 2008.We paid the bond, but told them that we must leave the USA by October 8th 2008 due to our flight schedule. The police department officials then gave us a phone numbers and told us to coordinate with the court personnel to change our appearance date. We told the police that we must leave on October 8th 2008, because our J1 Visa is only good for four months. No one really cared for what we said so we had to leave on October the 8th 2008 in order not to violate US immigration law. This caused us to miss our court date.and now on 15th may 2010 we have interview in united state embassy in my country after couple weeks is this problem for us and we cant get visa for second time or what.also I are worring about my crimal record. Will it stay on my record for life? thank you
      Dear Oliver: Be sure to appear for the May 15 interview. The process will be explained to you at that time. There may or may not be a warrant out for you for missing the October date – ask about that at the interview. You may be offered a way to resolve this without affecting your life from here on – such as a diversion program where you complete some community service hours in return for a closed case. If you’re under 18, speak with your parents about this and tell them about the interview on May 15. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • brandon
      Fri, 30 Apr 2010 at 10:04

      okay… i got caught shoplifting once from walmart did my service than got off probation for 3 days than got caught stealing from spencers at age 17 ill turn 18 before i go to court can i still go to juvie if im 18 cause i commited it when i was 17 i was also with my friend and he got caught stealing and my probation officer knows about it now but i didnt get caught will i be charged for it to?
      Dear Brandon: It depends on the laws of your state whether you’ll be handled as an adult on the shoplifting incident when you were 17, or remain in juvenile court. The process will be explained to you when you go to court – don’t miss the hearing or things will just get worse for you. If you weren’t identified in the other incident, it’s not likely you’ll be charged. Think before committing any more crimes – as an adult you’re facing jail and/or prison time if you reoffend. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Teddy
      Fri, 30 Apr 2010 at 12:52

      Dear
      I went to a store to buy something. I got a lot of things from the store and I picked up stuff and put them in my shopping bag and when I got to the cashier I took out everything or so I taught. After paying for them I put them back in my bag and on my way out the door the alarm went off. The security guard came and took everything i bought and they were rescanned and on the process they found out that the aluminum foil was not paid for$1.20 and I bought stuff worth $100.00 and I have $50.00 in my purse left. They took me to their office and I told them it was a mistake and I did not intentionally steal the foil. they took my ID card, wrote out my name and address and they banned my from the store but they did not call the police because they said it was an honest mistake. Will this go to my police record?
      Dear Teddy: It’s not likely that you’ll have a record from this incident. The only record may be with the store, but not the police or court. Since they recognized this as an oversight when you checked out, the information they took is likely for internal store use in the event you return and it happens again. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • oliver
      Fri, 30 Apr 2010 at 03:02

      dear judge,
      hi again my older is 21 years. i am worried about it.anyway, thank you so much

    • Shannen
      Sun, 02 May 2010 at 09:08

      hey i was just wondering if i could get some advice, i wont go through the whole story but basically me and my friends got caught shoplifting and put into cells, all my friends were 15 and got away with everything pretty much very simply apart from having to have an interview in front of their parents, i on the other hand is 16 and i got charged 5 times :/ ( 5 diffrent shops) my mums friend said that i am going to have to go to court? this is the frist time i have ever been in trouble with the police and i dont have a clue. what will happen? will i get put to court? will i get put in jail?:| im sooooo scared help!
      Dear Shannen: You may receive a notice in the mail requiring you to go to court on these shoplifting incidents. Since this is your first time, you may be offered diversion which means when you complete some community service, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter will be closed. Don’t miss the court date and don’t give in to temptation the next time you’re in a store. Consequences increase as you reoffend, including jail/detention. When you go to court, you’ll meet with a probation/court officer who will explain everything to you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Selma
      Sun, 02 May 2010 at 05:27

      Dear judge, I was caught shoplifting yesterday at a clothing store. It was in the morning. It was me (17) and my younger brother(3). I had gotten &70 worth of stuff. The guy from the stor had came and got me upon my exit and so I went with him. He told me dat he saw mw and I told him dat I understand wat I did and I know that I’m wrong. He called the police on me and they gave mr a court ticket and he banned me from the store. O am ashammed of my self and feel embarassed. This is do not me. I am a straight a student and a high ranking officer in ROTC. I have never fine such thing before and I have learned my lesson. I live in nc and my court date is weeks from now. Again I have never dine this and this is my first time and I don’t know what to do . Please help and tell me what I should expect. I plan on being a pediatric dentist and I hope this will not ruin my future. I am also wondering if this will stay on my record. Please help me and thank you for all u do to theses people.
      Dear Selma: Since this is your first offense, you can expect to be offered a diversion program. You said you’ll have a lawyer with you, so he or she will explain everything to you. Once you complete the diversion work hours, attend a class or counseling, the matter will be closed. If you end up with a juvenile record, after you’re 18 you can ask the court to expunge it. It will not affect your future educational plans. You asked about how to dress for court – like you’re going to church is the safest bet – casual but decent. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • tash
      Sun, 02 May 2010 at 05:47

      i am 19 years old and a few days ago i was caught helping a friend shoplift.. this is the 3rd time i have been arrested for shoplifting once when i was 15 and once when i was 17 i have a court date in a few weeks and i dont know what will happen and how should i plead. i live in florida and someone told me the 3rd time is a felony is that true?
      Dear Tash: It may be true in your state that a third shoplifting charge becomes a felony. Maybe not, however, if the first two were when you were a minor. Now that you’re over 18, with two previous incidents, you can expect the consequences to be stricter. You may be placed on probation for a period of time with specific terms to follow. Only you can decide how to plead – discuss this with a lawyer when you go to court. You may be appointed a public defender if you can’t afford your own attorney. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Heidi
      Mon, 03 May 2010 at 02:13

      Remember me? From Washington state? I was caught shoplifting at 17, and turned 18 soon after that. The court tells me I will be trialed as an 18 year old.. (Adult in WA)
      What should I expect?
      If I’m offered a diversion program, what should I expect?
      Would the diversion program test me? (Pee, blood, etc)
      Dear Heidi: If you admit the shoplift incident and are offered diversion, you can expect to have to complete some community work hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling. If the court or probation have reason to believe that you use or have used drugs in the past, you may be required to randomly test. A violation [testing dirty] may have consequences as well. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Alli
      Mon, 03 May 2010 at 09:54

      Hello. I’m 18 and last Friday i got caught shoplifting at Deb’s. They called the police and i got a ticket with an statute ordinance 609.52. I called and they said this mean i HAVE to show up in court. I’m really scared. This is the first time ANYTHING like this has happened to me. I’ve never got a ticket for anything in my entire life. I obviously have learned my lesson and will NEVER do it again. I stole less then 50$ of stuff for sure. Are they going to take me to jail? Please help me.
      Dear Alli: Since this is your first offense and the amount is low, you’ll likely be offered diversion. That means if you admit the shoplift and then complete some community work hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter will be closed. It’s not likely that you’ll be locked up. Don’t miss the scheduled hearing and dress appropriate for court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kimberly
      Tue, 04 May 2010 at 11:26

      Hi my name is kimberly and i got caught shoplifting from claires, this if my first time ever. I am 14 years old, and i live in OKlahoma. But i went to arkansas mall. so i got put into a jail for juveniles but i only got to stay 3 days in there. Then i went to court and the judege told me i got a signicture bond and that i have court again this coming month. I am really scared. What would i have to do? I am also going to WI this summer and i don’t know if i still can because i’m a afraid, will i get community service for the whole summer?? I stole a 5 $ headband and i got handcuffed and walked out of the mall. Since i don’t live in Arkansas what will they do?
      Dear Kimberly: The best way to handle this situation is to first tell your parents or legal guardian about what happened. They will be able to contact the out-of-state court and help you resolve this situation. It may be an easy solution that may only involve some community work hours that you can do in Wisconsin. Don’t put this off, though. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice]

    • Bill
      Tue, 04 May 2010 at 07:42

      Hello Judge,

      I was caught stealing a $0.97 pack of batteries from Walmart in California. The guy took me in and filled out some paperwork, he didn’t call the police and said I will not get a criminal record. He also didn’t make me sign the paperwork, or give me a copy of it. But, he said I might get a fine, he told me to call the number and ask the Walmart people to not give me a fine because it was less than a dollar. I am a college student, as well as working a part-time job, and I have two loans. I also bought the batteries. So do you think they will give me a fine if I plead my case to these people?
      Thanks, Bill.
      Dear Bill: It sounds like you got lucky this time. Call the number and explain what happened and how remorseful you are about the incident. Stores are authorized to impose a “civil demand” that often run several hundred dollars. Once paid the matter is closed and there’s no record involved. Explain your situation and they may waive the fine. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Annonymous
      Tue, 04 May 2010 at 08:53

      I stole a energy drink and A Mountain dew. i Feel really bad and learned my lesson. I think they have cameras, But can I get In trouble Even if they have me on camera? I mean they dont have any ID about me. I wanna pay em back but Im afarid to go back Into the store.
      Dear Anon: Depending on the size of your town or city, they may be able to identify you. If not, then you got lucky this time. If you want to do the right thing, as you mentioned, you could send the value of the items to them by mail. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sid
      Tue, 04 May 2010 at 09:41

      Hello.
      I got caught shoplifting and i got a criminal citation. this my first time ever stealing and i got caught. I am also a US resident going through the process of becoming a citizen of U.S.A. will this affect my citizenship in any way?? And should i get a lawyer? or just plead guilty? I have never in my life has any convictions or anything.
      Dear Sid: Since this may be an immigration issue combined with criminal law, you should talk with a lawyer before doing anything. We can’t advise you about how to plead – guilty or not guilty. That is up to you and should be decided after speaking with a lawyer. Check with your local court to see if they have a legal advice program for the public. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Bill
      Tue, 04 May 2010 at 10:01

      Hi Judge,

      One more question, if they catch you, don’t they have to get your signature on the paperwork?
      Thanks, Bill
      Dear Bill: It would have been better if they had obtained your signature and given you a copy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t proceed against you. They have an eyewitness to the shoplifting [or video] and whoever interviewed you can identify you in court, if necessary.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kathi
      Tue, 04 May 2010 at 10:40

      Today my sister came next intsindent ….. she stole the grocery store the goods at $ 25 … she was detained by a security guard of the store, decorated the notice of civil demand, which specifies a fine of 650. In notitse specified only Dreaver license, no longer its informatsii.Security alerted her that the fine be paid within 5 working days, otherwise it will put on collectioin you please tell me how to be in this situation and whether it really put the collection is not having a number of social security?
      Dear: Stores are authorized to issue “civil demands” in shoplifting incidents. If unpaid, they can pursue prosecution against the shoplifter and/or file a complaint with credit agencies. They may not have enough information for the agency to add it to her ratings, but that’s a risk of not paying the demand. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Bill
      Wed, 05 May 2010 at 12:19

      So Judge,

      Since this incident happened today, when should I call to plead my case to them?
      Thanks, Bill
      Dear Bill: You might want to wait a week or so before you call to let it get into the system.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sid
      Wed, 05 May 2010 at 07:31

      But if i plead guilty will this be on my record forever even if i shoplifted for the first time in my life? i am 19 years old.
      Dear Sid: Most states have a law regarding the expungement of records for misdemeanors and lower crimes. Ask about this when you go to court. You may have to wait a year or so before applying for expungement. Make sure you follow and complete all terms you’re given by the court and/or probation officer. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Anonymous
      Wed, 05 May 2010 at 12:41

      Hey Judge its anon again. About the mailing to them. Do I just send em money or write a letter? What else should I include?
      Dear Anon: That’s up to you to decide. Payment for the items and a note, whether you sign it or not, is the suggestion.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sid
      Wed, 05 May 2010 at 12:54

      I was wondering how long does it take for the letter from court to come for shoplifting? they Officer told me 60 to 90 days. does that sound about right? i love in Maryland
      Dear Sid: Yes, it could take up to three months. A lot depends on the size of your town/city, how busy the store is and if the matter needs to go to corporate headquarters that may be out of state. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • samantha
      Wed, 05 May 2010 at 03:06

      i’m 18 years old and got caught shop lifting at a missouri wal mart. i stole about $60 worth of merchandise. it’s my first offence and is considered a misdomeanor. i was arrested in wal mart and had to give all my info and i have a court date. what charges am i facing and is it a possibility that my charges could be dropped? i recently signed up for counceling. would that help me with charges?
      Dear Samantha: Your ticket should state the charge – theft or shoplifting is likely. Since this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion. Don’t expect the charge to be dropped unless the store decides not to prosecute. Diversion means when you complete some community service work, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter will be closed. Don’t miss the court date. You’ll probably meet with a court/probation officer before the hearing. You can ask him or her any questions about the process and what you can expect. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jasmin
      Wed, 05 May 2010 at 10:37

      i live in CA
      so i got myself 4 t-shirt and was about to leave
      but this LP stopping me and told me that i was caught shoplifting
      he take me in and asked me for my address, school name , phone number, my birthday, my mom’s driver license and asked my mom to sign 2 forms (i don’t know what she signed). He did not tell me anything about the civil demand. what’s going to happened to me? this is my first time and i am really scared.
      i am 14 if that helps
      Dear Jasmin: If he doesn’t refer this to the police, then you may receive a letter from the store requiring payment of a fine – a civil demand. Pay it on time and this will be closed. Otherwise you may receive a notice in the mail to appear in court if shoplifting charges are filed. Either way, since this is your first offense, you’ll probably be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community work, attend counseling or a class, then the case is closed. Think twice the next time you’re tempted to steal. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jacob
      Thu, 06 May 2010 at 06:30

      well, i was at walmart about an hour ago, i was stealing some yugioh cards. i know stupid right? ive done it before and never gotten caught. well i was walking out of the garden center and when i went out it beeped. the guy told me to come back and asked me if i had anything and i said no, he told me to walk with him so i did and he called for some guy to come over, they asked me if i had anything again and i said no that i was going to my car to get my wallet, well it looked like they were still waiting on someone but walmart was super busy that day so they let me go, i threw it all out of my pockets and left. will anything happen to me?
      Dear Jacob: You may have gotten lucky this time. Without your name, address, or phone number, they may not be able to contact you or file a shoplifting charge. You said you’ve done this before. It looks like your luck has run out even though this time you were released. Think twice before stealing again. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sarah
      Fri, 07 May 2010 at 03:27

      Hello, around three months ago when I was 15, a friend and I left school early illegally. I live in N.Y. During the time we were out of school, the friend that I was wanted to go into a store. Even though I warned her that she would get caught, we both walked into the store. She had my bag in her hand, and she stole food from the store that only came up to a total of 2.99$. A store worker asked her if she put it back, and she said that she did, we left and were across the street when we heard her yelling for us to come back. We went back, even though we could have gotten away, and she called the police. We were both arrested. My mom had to come pick me up due to me being a minor, and my friend had to go to criminal court. Months passed and I hadn’t heard anything, so I assumed my charges were dropped. The store manager said in her statement that she was shocked that I was arrested because I wasnt the one who did it, but I got a phone call saying that I would appear in youth court next monday, even though i am now 16. I was told that my record would be shredded, but im having doubts about this. I have plans to teach when I am older, and I don’t want this to get in the way. What should I expect?
      Dear Sarah: If this is your first offense, you may be offered a diversion program. This means that upon successful completion of community work hours, payment of a fine/restitution and attending a class or counseling, the case will be closed and the charges dismissed. If you do not want to admit to the shoplifting offense, you may want to speak with a local attorney for more information about your options. Even if diversion is not an option in your case, you will have the opportunity to go back to the court and ask for your record to be destroyed or expunged after you successfully complete your sentence. Therefore, this case should not prohibit you from teaching when you’re older, but remember that the penalties will increase for any additional offenses so we hope you learned from this incident. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Chastity
      Fri, 07 May 2010 at 03:37

      DEAR JUDGE,
      I GOT CAUGHT STEALING OUT OF THIS STORE AND IM ONLY 18 AND THEY TOLD ME IT WAS ONLY A MISDEMEANOR AND I WANTED TO KNOW WOULD THAT BE ON MY RECORDS? WOULD IT PREVENT ME FROM GETTING A JOB? WILL I GO TO JAIL? IT WAS ONLY MY FIRST TIME.
      Dear Chastity: Since this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion which requires the completion of community work hours, payment of a fine/restitution and attending a class or counseling. Upon completion, the case will be closed and the charges dismissed. If diversion is not an option, you are likely facing similar consequences as those mentioned above and will have the opportunity after successfully completing your sentence to go back to the court and ask for your record to be destroyed or expunged. Jail time is unlikely for a first offense, but if you violate the terms of your sentence or probation, it’s more likely. This first offense should not affect your ability to get a job, but remember that the penalties will continue to increase for additional offenses. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Jin
      Fri, 07 May 2010 at 08:05

      I got caught stealing one item today worth 65$ at the mall. The police officer let me go with a promise to appear. I am 25 and have a previous record of trafficking drugs. My previous charge has been over 5 years. After that there has been no incidents wioth police officers at all. I was wondering what is most likely to happen to me? Am i looking at long jail time?
      Dear Jin: Askthejudge.info is a teen-law web site. We don’t provide legal advice to adults or teens. Your sentence on the latest charge depends on the laws of your state and may take into consideration your previous offense when you were 20. Ask your public defender or private attorney what laws apply to you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Natalie
      Sun, 09 May 2010 at 10:04

      so my friend and i were caught shoplifting. I am 15 she is 17. they took us to a room and asked for information. i got scared to death started crying praying and my nose was bleeding and i was shaking. ive never done anything like this before. this is the worst feeling in the world knowing that you are a criminal. I have a few questions though. This will go on my record i know but im sentenced to court in 4 days and i want to know what happens there. how do i react? Am i gonna be able to go to college if this is stil on my record? get a job? This really sux even thoug i learned my lesson i am never gonna get this feeling out of my gut that ive dissapointed God an dmy parents. PLEASE HELP
      Dear Natalie: First thing, relax. You’re not a criminal – you made a mistake and will learn from it. Since you’re a minor you may be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service. attend a class about shoplifting or counseling, this will be closed and you won’t have a record. This one-time incident won’t affect your future in school, college or employment. Be truthful in court, complete the terms the judge gives you and carry on. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • breakyourheart
      Mon, 10 May 2010 at 07:32

      Okay I was caught stealing and they didnt call the cops or anything. They took my info. Im seventeen ive never been introuble with the law. I stole from walmart. I might have to pay a fine they said. They said they probably wont but i dont know whats going to happen.
      Has this exactly happened to someone where they had to wait and see if they were going to pay or not. And if it did happen?
      Dear Break: What you may be receiving in the mail is called a “civil demand.” Stores are allowed to fine you when you’re caught stealing from them. It could take several months before you hear from them and the fine could be several hundred dollars. Pay it on time and the case is closed. Otherwise they may decide to press shoplifting charges against you in which case you’ll receive a summons to appear in court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Anne
      Mon, 10 May 2010 at 07:33

      Hi, I am 16 and am in 11th grade in high school. When I was in 9th grade I got caught stealing and went through all the necessary consequences such as community service, a lecture program, and paid for my expenses and they said it was off my record. I don’t steal anymore and completely learned my lesson but about 2 weeks ago I got caught with my friend at Target who is a compulsive stealer because I just got temptation since she was getting away with it so much. The cops came and we got charged and everything but we havent been called yet or anything. I have stopped being friends with that girl and I wanted to know since this is my second offense- what my consequences would be, if it would be on my record for college applications next year or future jobs, and if I could possibly use my community service hours that I do every week at the soup kitchen and an autistic camp I am volunteering at this summer towards my hours for court?
      Dear Anne: We’re sorry to hear you gave in to temptation again. Since this isn’t your first offense, you may be facing a period on probation – six months to a year. Your probation terms may include more community service in addition to what you’re already doing as a volunteer. You could also be fined and ordered into counseling or to attend additional classes. This shouldn’t affect your college plans or future employment. Once you turn 18, ask about having your juvenile record expunged. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • breakyourheart
      Mon, 10 May 2010 at 08:54

      If i cant pay is there anything else I can do to pay it off?The people told me that they most likely wont do it so im hoping they dont. Because I co-operated with them.
      Dear Break: If you’re unable to pay the fine, contact the store and see if they have an alternative to paying it in cash, such as working it off at the store. Good luck.
      [Thi is information only - not legal advice].

    • Blaine
      Tue, 11 May 2010 at 09:59

      I was with a friend and we where walking around wal mart around christmas time. My friend noticed the game cases open. As we where walking my friend was like we should get some. I was like no dude no way, As we where walking around another time we passed the game cases my friend was like come on dude we can make some money buy just jacking these then taking them to sale them. I said ok whatever we got the games unpackaged them in the bathroom stashed the cases and where on our way out. As we where walking out we stepped through the doors and two men walked up and said “We suspect you have some merchandise of ours”. I just gave them the games and so did my friend. We went to the back got questioned and a cop came up. The games that we stole added up around 500 and something dollars with tax and all they would not split the price between us. I have court today Im not sure what to expect. I am pleading guilty to the charge because i did it. I have learned my lesson by more than enough. I am 16 and From Arkansas in white county what should i expect??? Thank you Please give me all the information you can.
      Dear Blaine: When you go to court, you’ll meet with a court or probation officer. He or she will explain the process to you. If you admit what you did, the court may proceed to sentencing. You may be placed on probation or given the opportunity to complete a diversion program. That means when you finish community service, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed. If you’re put on probation your terms will include some of the same requirements. Once you successfully meet all probation terms you’ll be released. Hopefully you’ve learned from this and won’t reoffend. The consequences increase as you get older. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Meghan
      Wed, 12 May 2010 at 02:29

      I am a 15 year old girl. I live in the state of virginia, and 2 days ago i was caught shoplifting at claires. It was $6.50. I have never done it before but she caught me at the door. She immediately called the cops and supposedly it is store policy to prosecute. I am curious whats going to happen. Is it positive that i’ll have to go to court, will this be on my record, and what do you think the penalties will be. Thanks
      Dear Meghan: If you weren’t given a ticket or notice to appear in court, you may not be prosecuted this time. On the other hand, you could receive a notice in the mail with a court date. The store could also choose to handle this by sending you a “civil demand” letter requiring payment of a fine. If you get that letter, pay it on time and the case will be closed. Since this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service work, attend a class or counseling, the case is closed and you don’t have a record. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Coco
      Wed, 12 May 2010 at 07:25

      i was caught shopliffting from sears.. it was a ten dollar thing of perfume what is going to happen to me? this is my first offence ever steeling something.
      Dear Coco: Assuming you’re a teenager, you’re likely to be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed. If charges aren’t filed, the store may send you a letter asking for a “civil demand.” This is a fine that they are authorized to collect or they may pursue shoplifting charges. If you get this letter, pay it on time and it will be over. Tell your parents what happened to avoid surprise later on. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sid
      Wed, 12 May 2010 at 09:12

      Hey Judge,
      I was caught shoplifting at khols. first time ever.
      I just got a paper from court in the mail and it says its a preliminary hearing?? what does that mean?
      Dear Sid: A preliminary hearing is held to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed with the shoplifting charge. Usually the state will present it’s evidence and the court decides if there is “probable cause” to believe that you committed the offense. If not, the charge is dismissed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sid
      Wed, 12 May 2010 at 11:37

      Is there a legal way to keep my parents from attending the preliminary or actually court proceedings should they occur? I am over the age of 18 if that matters.
      Dear Sid: Since you’re an adult you can appear in court without your parents unless there is a court order that they appear with you. Read the ticket or documents you’ve received carefully to see if this is addressed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sid
      Thu, 13 May 2010 at 12:11

      What if my parents insist on going with me, but i dont want them to go to court with me could i tell someone there since i am over 18 that they can’t come in with me.
      Dear Sid: Explain to your parents that you’d prefer to handle this as an adult and by yourself. If you still live at home and they support you, you may have to give in and let them appear with you. It’s not a legal right but a matter of courtesy. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Iman
      Thu, 13 May 2010 at 09:15

      I recently got caught stealing at macys…over 100$ and i’d say about 2 years ago i got caught at kroger..but they just gave me a warning.. I didnt get my court date yet..but when i get it..what do you think will happen to me :( Like what would the consequences be if i own up to it.
      Dear Iman: In a follow up question you asked if a warning counts as a first offense. The answer is no, at least to the court since you weren’t charged and there’s no official record of it. What happens to you this time depends on your age and what’s available in your area. Your court may have a diversion program for first time offenders. That means when you complete some community service work, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter will be closed. Don’t miss your court date. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sid
      Thu, 13 May 2010 at 09:35

      When i go to a preliminary hearing do they present all the evidence in front of everyone?
      Dear Sid: Usually at a preliminary hearing the state only needs to present enough evidence to show probable cause that an offense was committed and by you. So all of the evidence does not have to be presented at that time. This isn’t a full-blown trial, so you can expect a few people to be present, court officials for example, but not the general public. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Iman
      Fri, 14 May 2010 at 04:59

      but i think they actually filed it as a warning..like the police was involved and stuff…..so that doesnt count as a first offense?
      Dear Iman: A warning, whether it’s kept by the police for their records or not, is not a conviction or juvenile adjudication. As far as the court goes, a warning would not be a first offense.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sam
      Fri, 14 May 2010 at 10:37

      I got caught shoplifting about 2 weeks ago and i just got a court letter about a preliminary hearing, which i will attend. But i am also planing to go out of the country for a month do you think that they will let me go? or will they say that i cannot go?
      Dear Sam: If you ask for a continuance as soon as possible, it’s likely the court will give you a new date to appear. You may have to show some verification regarding your trip such as showing them your plane ticket or travel itinerary. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Alex
      Fri, 14 May 2010 at 01:08

      Hi Judge,

      I appreciate all of the answers you have given and attempted my hand at reading through all of them but I believe my situation is a bit different from those that have been posted. I am 21 years old and was caught stealing about $20 worth of items from Urban Outfitters about 2 years ago. I was never legally charged but had that additional fine of $200 on top of the items that I have stolen plus the 3 year ban from that particular store.
      My biggest concern is that I am trying to apply for an internship in their sister company Anthropolgie and am very weary if I should even attempt to apply to work for them because of this so called “shoplifting database.” I am extremely remorseful for my actions and would not hesitate explaining my previous situation and expressing my lessons learned.
      Essentially I am asking if I should even attempt to apply to work for them and if I do should I mention this prior history with them during the application process? Or just wait if I am ever considered for the job and questioned about my record? This an caused an immense about of anxiety and I just want to move on with my life.
      I greatly appreciate your advice.
      Dear Alex: It sounds like you’ve learned a valuable lesson and one that shouldn’t keep you from pursuing your interests. On any application you complete, whether it’s for employment, college or the military, answer truthfully. Read each question carefully and pay attention to the language used. If, for example, you are asked if you’ve ever been charged with a crime or convicted of a crime, based on what you’ve said here, you haven’t. Your shoplifting was handled as a civil matter through the store, not the police or a court. The store may have its own record of this incident and it may or may not share the information with sister companies. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • rosey
      Fri, 14 May 2010 at 03:27

      hi judge, i just got caught for shoplifting today at walmart that cost ($101)i didint get arrested at that time or anything but they took my id and take a picture of me. then gave me this paper said Misdemeanor summons and it said i have to go to court when the letter is being mail to me. Im so afraid what will happen to me in court, and i just recently turned 18.. i dont plan on telling my parent at all please help me with this issue, can i just talk to a lawyer and pay the fine and for this matter to drop? or i have to go to court? please help me :( im soo stupid for even shoplifting in the first i dont know what i was thinking. :
      Dear Rosey: If this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion if your court has such a program. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter will be closed. Don’t miss your court date. You may also receive a letter from the store requiring payment of a “civil demand.” This is a fine stores are permitted to charge in shoplifting cases. Pay it by the due date stated in the letter. When you go to court you can discuss your options with the court or probation officer that you’ll meet. He or she will explain the process to you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • rosey
      Fri, 14 May 2010 at 06:54

      thank you judge, this is rosey again,wat about my record or bad credit? will it stay in my record? if so should i go talk to an attorney or anything? im still young and i dont want anything in my record. I want to achieve my dream, AND i dont want this case to ruin my life :( just because of my stupidity for a second without think ruin my life. please help me and also i went and talk to my attorney today he said something like i have to pay 1500 for him to do this case… i dont have that kind of money im still a student. what should i do?
      Dear Rosey: Askthejudge.info does not provide legal advice. When you go to court explain your financial situation to the judge. You may be appointed a public defender to represent you. Or you may decide to admit the charge and proceed to sentencing. You can also plead not guilty and proceed to trial. It’s entirely up to you. As mentioned before, the process will be explained to you at court. If you admit or are found guilty by the court, and you complete the consequences the court imposes, you can apply for your record to be expunged. You may have to wait a year or so, but this won’t follow you around the rest of your life. You can clean up your record after a period of time. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Andrea
      Sat, 15 May 2010 at 10:50

      hey judge i have a question
      in december i got cought shoplifting in forever 21 and i got sent to a probation officer and he told me that sense i got good grades and never been into trouble i didnt have to go to court, and pay the forever 21 the money. Yesterday i went to the mall with my sister and her friend and we went to JCPenny looking for some jeans and my sisters friend gave me some shorts to steal and i did it and i got caught again what do tou think will happen with me, do you think i will go to juvinil? do you think i willl have alot of problems coming up?
      Dear Andrea: It looks like your luck has run out. If you were given a ticket with a court date on it, be sure to show up. You may be offered a diversion program which means when you complete some community service, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed. Or you can deny the charge and go to trial. That’s your decision. You could also receive a letter in the mail from the store requiring payment of a fine called a “civil demand.” Pay it on time and the matter will be closed. Discuss your options with your parents. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • sara
      Sat, 15 May 2010 at 07:06

      ok so me and my friend karly were caught shoplifting, first time.we are both 12. and we are good girls we have good grades good attitudes and we run with the right crowd. but we stole maybe 300 dollars worth of clothes. how long will this be on my record? and what will most likely be the consequences?
      Dear Sara: What will happen depends on how this shoplifting incident was handled. If the police were involved and you were given a ticket, read it and don’t miss the court date stated on the ticket. If the police were not involved, the store may decide not to press charges and handle it themselves. In that case, you may receive a letter in the mail requiring payment of a fine. Pay it on time and then this will be over. If you have to go to court, you may be offered what is called “diversion.” That means when you finish some community service work, pay a fine, or attend a class, then the case is over and you won’t have a record. You may be too young to do community service hours but that’s up to the judge. We hope you’ve learned a lesson and that you don’t give in to temptation again. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • nelly
      Sat, 15 May 2010 at 10:58

      Hello Judge.
      So here is my story…
      My friend has been shoplifting small things for a while. I have never had the ‘guts’ to do so (still dont). So after school friday we went to walmart to pick up some food or whatever. I wasnt sure if she was going to steal some makeup items or purchase them because she had the money this time. (keep in mind, she has stolen at walmart once before with me). So she picks up some items and asks if i want anything, and i pick out a blush for her to steal for me. In the end, we pick up $35 dollars worth of stuff. I do try and convience her to put it all back, but i didnt force it. She kept reminding me she has done this so many times before and that walmart never checks their cameras. Anyways, when we are leaving we get confronted be a guy and he takes us to a room. He tells us to take out all his stuff. I had nothing on me, it was all on her. He says he has seen us steal before but he didnt catch us the first time (we stole $12 worth of stuff that time) I admitted to it (should i have done that?). He took pictures of the stuff stolen and he called the police. I was laughing a lot because i couldnt believe it, i was in shock.. can I get in trouble for that? the put that i was laughing a lot in the ‘remarks’ section. (I like how he didnt put that i was crying a lot too..). They also said that i was blocking the camera when she tried to steal the stuff, I really wasnt though! Id always walk away when she put it in her bag. But i dont think i could make them believe me that i really wasnt blocking the camera. and I am 17, I live in GA. And im wondering if this will clear from my record when Im 18? This is a misdemeanor.. Also, i have a job. Do you think my boss will find out.
      Thanks so much.
      Dear Nelly: First, it’s not likely your boss will find out about this, unless you live in a very small town. You said you admitted to participating in this incident and that’s entirely up to you whether to admit or deny it. You should do what’s right and if you were involved, admitting shows character and responsibility. If you go to court, admit it and receive a consequence from the judge, this could be on your record for a period of time. That depends on the laws of your state. At some point you’ll be able to ask the court to expunge your record. Ask about this when you appear in court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Alex
      Sun, 16 May 2010 at 01:56

      I’m 18 years old and I admitted to stealing $31 merchandise to my store. When the loss prevention guy interrogated me, and I admitted what I took, he was yelling at me and accusing me of stealing more stuff. I don’t think thats lawful? Then I wrote down on this paper given to me that I can be terminated OR persecuted. I got fired then a month later they fined me $312 and I will be paying them monthly for the cause..BUT on the other hand, I gave back the 2 tanktops & payed him $31 dollars. I don’t understand. Also, does this go in my record?
      Dear Alex: If the police weren’t involved and you didn’t go to court, then you don’t have a record. The store may keep a record of the incident for their own purposes. The fine you received is called a “civil demand.” Many states authorize stores to fine shoplifters. Once you pay the fine the matter is closed. The store may also choose to press charges against you, but most don’t when they handle the incident through the civil process. You may not be as lucky if you shoplift again. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Julie
      Sun, 16 May 2010 at 06:42

      i was at the mall with my friend and we did a stupid mistake in shoplifting. it got out of hand and we ended up stealing 56 items from macys’s adding up to $650. we got caught and had to go into the back room. they got all our information, filled out juvinile papers, called our parents and told us we were band from the store and we would be getting court dates in the mail soon. my court date is soon and i just want to know what to expect. it is my first offence and if they look into my school records i’ve never done anything wrong and i have good grades. what should i expect?
      Dear Julie: Since this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter will be closed. If your area doesn’t have a diversion program, you’ll have to decide whether you’re going to admit or deny the shoplifting charge. The consequences of going to trial and being found guilty by the court are similar to diversion terms plus you could be placed on probation for a period of time. Since you’ve been banned from the store, don’t return or you may be charged with trespass. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Greg
      Sun, 16 May 2010 at 08:42

      Dear Judge,

      I was caught shoplifting a can of snuff at K-Mart in PA on Feb. 6th, 2010. They took my information and said it would not go on my criminal record and the police were not involved. It was also my first time offense. They said i will get a fine in a week or two. I have never gotten that fine and have not been contacted by them. Is there anything else that can happen to me?
      Dear Greg: In a second message you added that you are 20. There’s a chance you may not hear anything further since it’s been a few months and the value of the item was low. You might still receive a letter from the store requiring payment of a fine. If you do, pay it promptly and the case will be closed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • lily
      Sun, 16 May 2010 at 08:50

      hi jugde, im 18 and got caugght shoplifting that add up to 100 but they didnt arrest me or put me in jail, but instead just give me the paper call misdemeanor summon and to be notified my court date later on what is that suppose to mean? because usually i heard if you get caught shoplifting you will get arrested and put in jail to get finger print and wait to be bail out. but i didnt get arrested? whats that suppose to mean?
      Dear Lily: Shoplifting charges are handled differently around the country. Make sure you don’t miss your court date. A court or probation officer will explain the process to you. If this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the matter will be closed. Otherwise you might be placed on probation for a period of time with similar conditions. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • sharon
      Sun, 16 May 2010 at 09:47

      dear judgge,
      i had my court date and i was offered a second chance diversion program. the states attorney said i would be signing up for it on my next court date. how long is this class and how much do you have to pay for it? can they charge me more fines? can anything else happen or do i just take the class and everything will be resolved? im still afraid that something else is going to go wrong.
      Sharon: If you were offered diversion again, the specifics of the program should have been explained to you. Once you complete the terms of the program, the case is over. The only additional fine you might receive is from the store if they choose to send you a letter requiring payment. Think next time you’re tempted to shoplift. It’s rare that diversion is available on the third offense. Good luck.

    • Greg
      Sun, 16 May 2010 at 10:56

      If I gave them my information and signed the paperwork for stealing an item under $3, what are the chances of being reported to the National Retail Theft Database from KMart? or will they just keep the information within their store?
      Dear Greg: If the store is a member of the Database and reports it, then it’s on record. They may not report incidents under a certain amount which would certainly include a $3 item. You also asked if this would affect future job opportunities. It depends on how the questions are asked on employment applications. Read them very carefully and answer truthfully. If given the chance to explain what happened, do so in a straightforward manner. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kat
      Mon, 17 May 2010 at 07:57

      Hi, my husband was caught shoplifting in March in the amount of $469.00. He had stolen from the store previously for similar amounts but that didn’t come up while he was detained. He got caught while he was putting the groceries in the car, cooperated with store personel, the cops were called but he was not arrested just cited, and he paid for the groceries and was allowed to take the stuff and go. A summons came and he is due in court tomorrow. The citation said he could face a $500 fine and up to 18 months in jail. He is 28, this is his first offense and we live in MD. He plans to plead no contest. Also, and I don’t know if it matters but, he was on an antidepressant at the time which I think is to blame for a lot of his impulsiveness because he’s never done anything like this before.

      My questions are: What are the odds that he will have to serve jailtime? Could they look back through their security tapes and find him stealing other things, and will that be mentioned at the trial? Will having paid for the groceries help him at all (we kept the receipt)? Will the fact that he has since stopped taking the medicine and has been much more stable matter or is it worth mentioning (we don’t have medical documentation of this)?
      Dear Kat: Askthejudge.info is an educational web site for teenagers about the law. We do not provide legal advice to adults or teens. Your husband may have a chance to speak with a lawyer tomorrow [public defender] or hire his own before deciding how to proceed in court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • dianna stewart
      Mon, 17 May 2010 at 11:51

      I am from arkansas and recently me and two friends got cought stealing from k mart i got cought with a fifteen dollar shirt the called the cops and i have a court date i am only 17 and this will be the first time i have got in trouble for something big what will the do to me im scared please help me!!
      Dear Dianna: Since this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed and you won’t have a record. When you get to court, a probation or court officer will explain the process to you. Don’t miss your court date or you risk having a warrant issued for your arrest. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Bonnie
      Mon, 17 May 2010 at 12:21

      okay so my friend and i got caught stealing at walmart. we’re both over 18 and we live in texas. it was less 50 bucks all together and they gave us our court dates and we left. now my problem is that i have a flight booked to leave the state on my court date and i dont have time to go to court AND catch my flight. i dont want to have to cancel my flight and pay for another one just because of this. is there a way i can go into court early and get this taken care of or even have it pushed back to when im back from my vacation?
      Dear Bonnie: The best way to handle this is to call the court [a number should be on the ticket or Google the name of the court], explain your situation and ask for a short continuance. You may have to provide verification of your trip [copies of your plane ticket] so the court can see that the continuance is justified. The sooner you do this, the better. Missing court can result in the issuance of a warrant for your arrest. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jessica Sanders
      Mon, 17 May 2010 at 02:20

      i would like some advice concerning my situation. I got caught shoplifting at walmart in texas…i didn’t get banned nor arrested. I stole under the amount of $50 dollars and have to appear in court. This is my Frist Theft Offense.The concern i have is that i have a previous record. Since 2008 i’ve gotten three traffic tickets; for two of them i did deferred adjudication. My question is will my previous traffic violations affect my petty theft charge and will i be able to take deferred adjudication again?
      Thank you:]
      Dear Jessica: That depends on the size of your city/town and if you were in a different court for your traffic offenses. One court may not share its records with other courts. You could be offered diversion again if the court you’re going to on this shoplifting incident isn’t aware of the traffic citations. It could also depend on the nature of the traffic tickets – some are civil offenses while others [like DUI] are criminal. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jenny
      Mon, 17 May 2010 at 03:00

      Hey, i told u my story on april 26th. I got the letter now, but it wrote my first letter of my first name wrong. Do you think i should pay the fee or ignore it?
      Dear Jenny: That’s up to you to decide. Since they know your name and address, getting one letter in your first name wrong doesn’t change the facts of the case or provide you a loophole to escape responsibility. Do the right thing.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sam
      Tue, 18 May 2010 at 03:55

      Can i ask for an extension for my trial date when i go to my preliminary hearing? My preliminary hearing in on may 27th and i am going out of the country June 8th and will be back July 8th. Would i be able to go out of the country or should i ask the court to extend my preliminary hearing or the actual trial date?
      Dear Sam: If you have been appointed a lawyer [public defender or private counsel], ask him or her this question. If there’s no one to contact at this time, you can call the court where you are to appear and ask someone. They should be able to tell you whether you can get a continuance of your hearings. You could also write a letter explaining the upcoming trip and request a short continuance. Include a copy of your plane tickets or itinerary. Be sure to put your name and the number of the case [ticket] on your letter so they can track it to your file. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • luz
      Thu, 20 May 2010 at 10:25

      dear judge, im 18 and got caught shoplifting the police was involve and gave me a ticket and in the ticket it said court date will be notify, and i heard people saying someone willl come to ur house and give u the paper to sign to go to court.. i dont want my parent to know, but if its true someone will come then what i have to do? i thought they only mail me a court letter thats it? but i keep hearing people say someone will come to ur house for court date, is it true? or they just trying to scared me :(
      Dear Luz: The usual practice is to receive a letter in the mail notifying you of your court date, where to appear and the time. However, the procedure where you live may be different, especially if you’re in a small town. Most cities don’t have the resources or funds to send someone out with these notices when it can just as efficiently be done through the mail. Either way, you should tell your parents what happened. They may find out sooner or later and it would be better to come from you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sam
      Fri, 21 May 2010 at 10:20

      Can i leave the country after a preliminary hearing? I am planning on coming back before the Trial date. But its not against the law or anything right?
      Dear Sam: If you haven’t been told by either the police or the court not to go, you should be able to – as long as you’re back for your next hearing. Don’t miss it or a warrant could be issued for your arrest. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Asia
      Sun, 23 May 2010 at 08:40

      Dear judge my friend was shopping and paid for her stuff and walked out the store she made it to her girlfriends car (who was sitting in the car in the parking lot) and then a man is running up my friend and told her that she need to come with her back to the store to talk about the items she bought. she okay then she stop him and asked why the man would not tell her why so she said no and got into her girllfriends car and they left the man got her girlfriends licence plate. my question is what will happen to her girlfriend if she didnt know what was going on.
      Dear Asia: It’s possible that your friend may be interviewed by the police if the store contacts them about this incident. She should tell them the truth about what she was doing. Tell your friend to keep her receipt so she can prove she purchased the items that day. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Alma
      Sun, 23 May 2010 at 02:48

      I was caught shoplifting some jewelry in Macy’s yesterday, it wasn’t my first time doing so, but the first time I was caught.
      They took me into questioning, took down my info and called the police. Then the police took my mugshot and fingerprints. I’m only 15 and this happened in New Jersey but I live in NYC. The items were worth about $300 and they said I had to go to court and pa fines. Also that my record would disappear in 3 years as if it never happened. So the question I have is what they say true? Is there any way else I can make up for the items? Thank You.
      Dear Alma: There may be a way to avoid the fine, especially at your age. You’ll have to go to court to see what the options are. Someone there will explain the process to you, either a court or probation officer, if not the judge. You may be offered diversion which means when you complete some community service, attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed. Don’t miss your court date or a warrant for your arrest may be issued. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • leah
      Sun, 23 May 2010 at 04:21

      yesterday, i was shopping at the mall. I took a pair of underwear from victoria’s secret and a pair of socks from macys. when i was leaving macys, the security people stopped me and said that they caught me. as they were looking through my bag, they found everything. macys just made me pay a fine and i have to go to a thing where i listen to right choices. my mom came and picked me up. i still don’t know what victoria’s secret will do about it. i am 16 and live in pennsylvania. what will happen to me? will this be on my records forever? i am a really good girl. i get good grades. ive never done anything like this before. first offense. what will happen to me?
      Dear Leah: You may have gotten lucky with the first store. If they didn’t stop you or obtain your identification, you probably won’t hear from them. The only record that may exist is with Macy’s, not the police or court since they weren’t involved. Learn from this incident since consequences increase as you reoffend. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • meeee
      Sun, 23 May 2010 at 07:23

      I stole from walmart and I got a letter 2 weeks after and says I have to pay 200$ but an attorney says Its stupid and I wont have to pay.That they just want money so shes going to deal with it. Could that be true? What can happen with this?
      Dear Meeee: You said that “shes going to deal with it.” So, wait and see what happens. Many states authorize by law stores to impose a “civil demand” on shoplifters. They can ask for payment of a fine [for example, $200.00 as done here in your case] or press charges against you. Make sure you let your attorney know the date listed on the letter for payment. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • leah
      Sun, 23 May 2010 at 07:34

      replying to my previous post, macys was going to forward my information to the other store. will they do anything about me? thank you.
      Dear Leah: That’s up to the other store and whatever evidence they have against you. They may have a video or eyewitness. It’s their decision whether to press charges or not. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Nghiep
      Sun, 23 May 2010 at 09:29

      I’m 14 I stealing some toy in K-mart. The toltal is around 20-30.I live in California. when I walk out the door and the security caught me. they take me the back room, they ask for the stuff back. I give everything to them. They tell me to call my parent to pick me up. When my parent came, they tells them to sign the paper, and charge us 200-400 dolla, they said we will recieve the bill. (They are no police are involved).
      Question is.
      1.Is that go to my record?
      2.If is it, how can I clear it?
      3.If is in my record, how is going to affect my life later?
      Dear Mghiep: Since the police weren’t involved and you don’t have to go to court, you won’t have a record. This shouldn’t have any affect on your future. The store will keep a record of this incident in the event you return to the store and shoplift again. You may not be as lucky next time. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • meeee
      Sun, 23 May 2010 at 10:32

      she has the paper with her.
      Ive looked up some info and ive read that they just try and get money out of you. i dont know im worried of what will happen. The cops were never called while we were there and they just took info and they didnt make us sign anything. Does that mean its in the system? My attorney said they have nothing on us or theres nothing there. So im confused.
      Dear Meeee: The incident is in the store’s system – their records. Since the police weren’t involved, there’s no official record. Listen to your lawyer – she knows the local laws and will tell you what will happen, if anything. As far as the store goes, they may keep the video and report from this for a while. Your lawyer may know what store policy is. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Amy
      Mon, 24 May 2010 at 12:23

      Dear Judge, I was caught shoplifting from Target in California about 4 weeks ago. I am 17, they made me write down some information (name, address, phone number) and sign the paper stating that I had stolen 100 dollars worth of merchandise. The police was not involved and my brother had to come pick me up (Parents weren’t available.) & the guy told me the fine was going to be arriving in the mail in 4-6 weeks. Will it really be the actual fine? Don’t I have to go to the court first? If I do, will my parents have to go with me or is it okay if I just go by myself? Thanks for the help.
      Dear Amy: Many states allow stores to impose a fine on shoplifters. It’s called a “civil demand” and may run into hundreds of dollars. Pay it on time and the case will be closed. The store could also decide to press charges against you. If they do you’ll receive a notice in the mail regarding a court hearing. Usually they rely on the civil demand and then close the case. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • tiffany
      Mon, 24 May 2010 at 08:28

      hello i was caught shopelifting the police was called i was arrested and now i have to go to court. will i get any jail time? this is my first time shoplifting but my second petty larcney charge.
      Dear Tiffany: You could be facing some time in jail or juvenile detention depending on your age. If you’re on probation now, you’ve also violated your probation by committing a second offense. If you’re not on probation, you may be after this incident. If you admit the shoplifting the court may decide that a period of supervision is appropriate because of the earlier larceny charge. Don’t miss your court date. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Frances
      Mon, 24 May 2010 at 11:01

      I stole less than 50 dollars from walmart. They didn’t call the police, although I was threatened plenty of times. Um, the guy said I’ll be getting a fine in the mail, retention or something starting with a re. I’m just tryna see what to do now. He didn’t ban me. THis is my first time doing this… Ugh Im ashamed and embarassed by this…I just feel so stupid. I really can’t describe how I feel. I don’t want this to mess my life up.
      Dear Frances: You may receive a letter in the mail requiring payment of a fine. It’s called a “civil demand” that stores can impose in shoplifting cases. Pay it on time and the case will be closed. You won’t have a record and this incident shouldn’t affect your future plans for school or work. Think twice before giving in to temptation again. Consequences increase as you reoffend. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • debbie
      Tue, 25 May 2010 at 05:38

      hi i was actually at kohls the other day the lp guy came out yelling at me saying i stole this perfume which i didnt… it had actually fell into my cart without me knowing because i had put back the box not knowing it had fell out.. i know it doesnt sound right but it honestly really did happen,,, im 21 and a very honest person and never have been in trouble in my life please tell me what you think is gonna happen to me im scared to death… i also live in va and if i do these classes that you are telling ppl about to get this cleared because it would be my first offense does that mean it is whipped off your record and not there anymore or does that just mean u are free to go??
      Dear Debbie: If the police weren’t involved then you won’t have an official record to worry about. The store may keep its own records of shoplifting incidents in case you return and it happens again. If you end up in court, explain to the judge exactly what happened. You’re not automatically guilty because a store employee thinks you shoplifted. If you don’t hear anything from the court but receive a letter from the store asking for payment of a fine, you must decide how you want to handle it. If you pay, the case will be closed. If you don’t they could either let it go this time or contact the police to file charges against you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Karl
      Tue, 25 May 2010 at 10:43

      I was accused of stealin from a strore..i left the store an recieved a phone call from an officer saying he wanted to talk to me about the shoplifting an if he didnt here back from me he would put a warrant out for my arrest..i didnt get a chance to get back with him but i went down to the station to turn myself in ,but their wasnt any warrants for me..I recieved a letter in the mail from an attorney sayin i was detained for shoplifting an am demanded to pay $200 in 30 days,what should i do??
      Dear Karl: What you may have received is a “civil demand” letter from the store. Many states authorize stores to collect fines in shoplifting cases rather than taking the matter to court. If you’re not sure about the letter, there should be a telephone number on it that you can call and ask for clarification. Otherwise, if you pay it on time, the case will be closed and you won’t have a record with law enforcement or the court. Discuss your options with your parents. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Karl
      Tue, 25 May 2010 at 11:09

      Thanks for the advise.1 more thing, i went an tryed clothes on in the dressing room and clearly on camrera walked out with the the same clothes i went in with.The under cover secrurity was on his hands an knees trying to look at me while i was changing and i noticed him doing this before i even shut the door,before i even begin trying the clothes on..He says he saw me but its clear he must have been mistakin.. no merchindise was recovered ..If i take this to court is it possible to counter sue for false acusations aginst the store becuz now im tramatized, i cant go anyplace now without thinking im gonna get harrased for stealing.
      Dear Karl: This is a situation that you need to discuss with a local lawyer who is familiar with privacy issues as it relates to criminal law. Your may have a Free Legal Assistance Program [FLAP] where you live. This is a program where attorneys donate time to the public and provide free legal advice. Usually you’re limited to thirty minutes but that’s enough time to explain the situation and receive advice on whether you have a case or not. Check with your local court or law library to see if there’s a FLAP in your area. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Anthony
      Wed, 26 May 2010 at 12:34

      HI today i got shop lifting. The woman was eyeing me and then when i went out and paid for the items i got caught. she grabbed me by the collar of my shirt and dragged me back into the store. They said they wouldn’t call the cops but if i don’t pay $40 they’re going to call my school, who will then call me parents. I’m only 13 and this is my first time getting caught. What’s going to happen?
      Dear Anthony: First, you need to tell your parents about what happened. They can go to the store and settle this so you can avoid being charged with shoplifting and having a juvenile record. They will have to pay the amount that the store is requiring. This is a common practice with stores so no one has to go to court. Once the amount is paid the matter is closed. If you were told not to return to the store, don’t. You could be charged with trespass if you do. Don’t give in to temptation again because the consequences increase as you reoffend. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • debbie
      Wed, 26 May 2010 at 12:48

      sorry to bother you again but maybe i didnt give enough info last nite when i posted…..btw i do want to tell you that i think your website is great and it really does help people out ALOT!! ok back to my story.. as i said before this item had fell in my cart and as i was picking it up out of my cart OUTSIDE of the store after i had put my bags and purse on my arm the lp guy came and started yelling… told me if i was calm and cooperative that i would not being going to jail, they claim i put this empty box back on a different shelf but i had put it there simply because i had picked out something different and put it back where i had got the new items as i said before it fell out in my cart and i put an empty box back on the shelf not knowing it was empty, i tried explaining all this to the lp guy and he was just really rude and intimidating the cops were called i was arrested for concealment under 200$ i dont have much of a fight due to the fact that i signed a paper stating i walked out of the store without paying for this item i signed the paper because i was scared and needed to get home to my sick mother and plus the lp guy said i had to sign that paper and the tresspass paper in order not to be taken in to the police station, im so worried and already suffer from depression and anxiety and i just cant even sleep due to the fact i can not afford to spend one day in jail because i take care of my terminally ill mom, the court appt lawyer says that the laws here in my county will put me in jail but something about doing an online shoplifting class and some community service hours BEFORE court and in some cases they are let go without jail time.. what do u think?? do u think im going to jail im so scared i just cant believe something like this could happen ive never been arrested never been to court nothing!!! like i said before i live in pwc in virginia and i am over the age 18 PLEASE HELP ME
      Dear Debbie: First, you can relax a little about this. It’s not likely that you’ll go to jail especially if you complete the diversion program. That’s why they exist. Talk with your lawyer about what’s required to avoid going to trial on the charge and what you need to do in diversion. When you complete the community service and the online class, the case will be closed. You have a court-appointed lawyer, so stay in touch with him or her and get all your questions answered so you know exactly what you’re doing. Good luck. We’re glad you like the site – thanks for your comments.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Nicole
      Wed, 26 May 2010 at 01:34

      I got caught shoplifting in NJ, and the police was notified. I am over the age of 18. While at the police station I got finger printed, and even my picture take. I have to go back to court and most likely pay a fine. However i wanted to know will this incident show up on my record? Is there a way i can get it removed?
      Dear Nicole: As an adult it may remain on your record unless you’re offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service or attend a class or counseling, the case is closed and there’s no official record of the incident. If diversion isn’t available and you admit the shoplifting and receive a penalty, the offense can be removed from your record after a period of time. Ask about this when you go to court. It’s usually a year or so before you’re eligible to have your record expunged. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Elaine
      Wed, 26 May 2010 at 05:07

      Hello, I was caught shoplifting years ago, no police were involved, they did however “fine” me. I made payments to the store and when i finished I asked if it were going to show up on my record and they said no and said something along the lines of because it was a “civil case”. It was a long time ago and this is all I can remember and cannot find the letter that stated I was done with payments. Either way, I am not sure if this is true and was hoping you could shed some clarification? I am now applying for a job and am not sure whether to report it or not. I am not even sure how I would report it being as I was not convicted or anything. please help!
      Dear Elaine: If you didn’t go to court when the shoplifting happened, you were not convicted or adjudicated deliquent as a juvenile. It sounds like you went through diversion which means you don’t have a record. When completing job applications, read every question carefully. If a question asks if you’ve ever been “convicted” you’ll know how to answer. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Amy
      Thu, 27 May 2010 at 06:58

      I was caught by LP at Kmart yesterday. They got my name and address (I live in Indiana) and said it would be a civil suit,and that it wouldn’t be on my record and I wouldn’t have to go to court. Is that true? They also said that there would be a fine in the mail in 2-6 weeks. How much would it be? I stole a pair of earrings out of a multi pack that cost $10. Any advice would be really appreciated. I’m 16 years old.
      Dear Amy: What you were told is correct. Many states authorize stores to handle shoplifting incidents as a civil matter rather than a criminal case. The fine could be in the hundreds of dollars. When it’s paid, the case is closed and you don’t have a record. Also if the store told you not to return, make sure you don’t. Otherwise they can charge you with trespassing. Good luck.
      [This is inforation only - not legal advice].

    • Nicole
      Thu, 27 May 2010 at 11:10

      Hello, so i went to court today, and i pleaded guilty to shoplifting, so can i still ask for a diversion? I believe i will get fined and community service however what can i expect for my second appearance?
      Dear Nicole: When you return to court for your next hearing, it will likely be the penalty phase where the judge decides what the consequence will be. It may include a probation period, work hours, a fine, etc. When you succesfully complete the terms ordered by the court, you can ask for a clean record. You may have to wait a period of time [one year or so] before you’re eligible for this. Ask about expunging your record when you return. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • DeVon Sills
      Thu, 27 May 2010 at 11:58

      I missed Court and the lady told me to go Open Court what does this mean, will I be arrested.
      Dear DeVon: Proceedings in courts around the country differ from state to state. “Open Court” may mean a group hearing for those who missed their individual hearing. Don’t miss court again if you have a new date to appear. Depending on the charge and the assigned judge, issuance of an arrest warrant is always possible. A first-time no-show usually does not result in an arrest. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • mia
      Thu, 27 May 2010 at 12:59

      i am 19 and live in california, my little sister and me went to walmart and she stole a bunch of accessories probobly worth between 50 to 60 dollors i knew aobut it and we got caught. they didnt notify the police but they said we would get a fine in the mail. after we pay the fine will this stay on our record?
      Dear Mia: If you pay the fine on time, then the case will be closed and you won’t have an official record with the police or court. The store may keep their own record of this incident in the event you return to the store and shoplift again. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Shay
      Thu, 27 May 2010 at 08:00

      Hi. I stole $117.69 worth of magazines the other day. I got issued a citation for court next month. This is my first time ever stealing and dont have a criminal record at all. Im going to plead guilty in court without a lawyer. what will happen???? I regret I ever stole. Im 21 years old. I’m so stressed and worried about the whole thing:<
      Dear Shay: Since this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed. If your area doesn’t have a diversion program and you plead guilty, the consequences may be the same plus a period on probation. Follow your probation terms to the letter and once you successfully finish probation, you can ask to have your record cleared. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Shay
      Fri, 28 May 2010 at 01:48

      thank you:)

    • Kristy
      Fri, 28 May 2010 at 02:47

      I was caught shoplifting at Cub Foods the other day. and it was like 40 dollars of things. what is going to happen? what am i going to put on my job applicatoins? if it says convicted, does that mean i have to tell them? do i HAVE to tell them? if they run a check on me, will they see it? i’m 16 and i live in brooklyn park, minnesota
      Dear Kristy: What happens depends on whether you’re cited into court or not. If you have a court date, make sure you don’t miss it. Since you’re a minor and if this is your first offense, you’ll probably be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine, or attend a class, the case will be closed. The process will be explained to you at court. You may also receive a letter from the store requiring payment of a fine. Pay it on time and the case will be closed. Read all questions on job applications carefully and answer truthfully. A juvenile is not usually “convicted” unless tried in adult court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • gdknows0
      Fri, 28 May 2010 at 08:05

      I live in Toronto was caught by security office at Metro Store yesterday cost $30.I gave them Driving licensee as a ID. They got my name and address and asked some question and did paper work. They called police and police took my ID card and did some paper work and submitted my information in some machine in their care. Security office gave me legal notice for fine. They also said that there would be a fine in the mail in 2-6 weeks. Any advice would be really appreciated. I’m 29 years old and student.what is going to happen? Will they put it on my record. what am i going to put on my job applications? if it says convicted, does that mean i have to tell them? do i HAVE to tell them? if they run a check on me, will they see it?
      Dear GD: Askthejudge.info is an educational website for teenagers about the law. Consequently we are unable to respond to your questions. If you read through some of the Q’s and A’s below you’ll find information about the shoplifting process that is followed in most first-time offense cases. This is likely applicable in Canada as well as in America. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kristy
      Fri, 28 May 2010 at 08:49

      so that means that i dont HAVE to put it on my job applications? if they ran a background check, would they see it?
      Dear Kristy: It’s not likely to appear on a background check if you didn’t go to court. Again, read the questions very close and answer truthfully. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Rachel
      Sun, 30 May 2010 at 03:47

      Hi. I live in New Zealand. I got caught shoplifting a singlet from a mall when I was 14 years old. I filled out a form with my details, then two police officers came and took my picture and fingerprints. Later I was driven home. This was the first and last time for me. I am currently 21 years old and hoping to apply for a job being a flight attendant next year. Just wondering if this would show under their background check? Is there a record and if so, can I clear it? Thanks in advance!
      Dear Rachel: It’s doubtful that there is a record of this incident. If you didn’t go to court you wouldn’t have an official record. You haven’t been convicted or adjudicated of any offense. If it does appear in a background check, you’ll have a chance to explain what happened and also seven years without further incident is in your favor. Good luck with the airlines.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • James
      Mon, 31 May 2010 at 09:41

      Hi i live in California and i got a burglary felony. They are giving me this contract if where i fulfill it they will act like it will never happen. But can the probation officer still drug test me even tho the case wasn’t related to drugs?
      Dear James: If you agree to random drug testing, then the probation officer can ask you to test. If it’s part of the diversion program which is voluntary on your part, then you must comply. Otherwise, you’re facing formal charges on the burgalry which may result in a conviction, sentence and a record. Discuss the options here with the probation officer and your lawyer if you have one. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • sara
      Mon, 31 May 2010 at 09:18

      hey judge it is me again.
      yes the police were involved. and it was to stores i believe they are pressing charges i kno for sure one is but im not for sure about the other. and if it is on my record how long will it be there? and by community service do you mean probation? and if that happens and i pay the fine and do the community service hours will i be off probation? or do you stay on probation till the time period the judge said u were on probation is over? how much do u think the fine will be? i live in MO. thnx
      Dear Sara: Community service is work done for a local non-profit organization – basically volunteer work. If you are polaced on probation it will be for a designated period – possibly six months to a year. Once you successfully complete all of your probation terms you will be released – it could be less than the time you were given depending on your probation officer and the judge. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • unkown
      Tue, 01 Jun 2010 at 01:14

      hello its me again the guy with the 5 t-shirts.. i am 19 years old and when the loss prevention took my license plate number he did not talk to me or anything.. i simply freaked out and drove my car home… now my question is… macy’s always report those incidents ??? or do they let them pass by ??? i need all the information u can think off please. also what will happen if i got pulled over and the police knew from my license plate that i shoplifted ??? i am going out of the country over the summer and i am going to stay in europe for 3 months… if i got pulled over after 3-4 months from the incident ??? can they still charge me ??? thank you for ur patience !!
      Dear George: You said you took t-shirts from Macy’s and drove away. Unless they can identify you as the shoplifter, you can’t be charged with the offense. The license number on the car doesn’t necessarily lead to you as the car may have been borrowed or the registered owner is someone else. The store could send you a letter requiring payment of a fine. If that happens pay it on time and this matter will be closed without anything on your record. The store has a certain period of time to press charges. It’s called a statute of limitations. Usually in misdemeanor cases it’s one or two years. So, yes, when you return from Europe in a few months you could still be charged with shoplifting. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Elizabeth
      Tue, 01 Jun 2010 at 08:48

      So I’m thirteen and i got caught shoplifting at a dollar general store.(Buffalo NY) I had body lotion and and shampoo and conditioner. The cops came took my number down called my mom too pick me up and All that then they said they would have contact and This is my first time Whats gonna happen?!?
      Dear Elizabeth: You may receive a letter from the store requiring payment of a fine. If you pay it on time the matter will be closed with nothing on your record. Or you may receive a letter giving you a date to appear in court. Don’t miss your court date. The process will be explained to you when you go. If this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed. It’s up to the judge to decide how to handle this. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • nicole
      Wed, 02 Jun 2010 at 03:30

      why is it i have to pay a fine to the court for stealing and then also the fine to the store i stole from? or si the fien the court giving me covers the fien from the store?
      Dear Nicole: Your state law may authorize both penalties for shoplifting. One is a civil fine, from the store, and the other a penalty for breaking the law, a criminal penalty that the court imposes. This is a common practice across the country in theft and shoplifting cases.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Suse
      Wed, 02 Jun 2010 at 05:21

      I guess I have more of a question, anyhow, if one over 21 was caught shoplifting by LP and the police were not involved, and you were never made to go to court, or put on probation or served community service, you simply had to pay a one time fee (to the store) is your permanent record tarnished? do you have a criminal record, will that prevent you from getting jobs?
      Dear Suse: Based on what you’ve described you shouldn’t have to worry about this incident. If the police were not involved or the courts, you don’t have a criminal record. The only “record” you have is with the store in the event you return and shoplift again – they would likely decide to press charges if that happened. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Maya
      Wed, 02 Jun 2010 at 05:22

      well my boyfriend a couple months back he and a friend was stealing but he didn’t go to court yet but he’s going to court this summer he doesn’t know whats going to happen i told him what i read (First-time shoplifters usually go through a diversion program, which includes counseling, community service hours, and restitution.
      and he’s only 16.
      okay today somebody was smoking that was around him so this girl through some paper that was sill lit and the police was asking him questions and let him go because he didn’t know what happened intill the smoke was coming up.
      he doesn’t know whats going to happen to hi can you please help.
      and the state that it’s in is Maryland.
      Dear Maya: What you have said about diversion is correct if this is a first offense, low value of items taken and your friend is a minor. Regarding the paper on fire, it doesn’t sound like anything will happen to him if he wasn’t arrested or didn’t receive a ticket at the time the police interviewd him. Otherwise he could have been cited for reckless burning or some other property related crime. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Maya
      Thu, 03 Jun 2010 at 10:25

      this is maya again so that means when he goes to court one day this summer he might not go to jail for the shoplifting??
      Dear Maya: That’s correct. It’s unlikely he’d go to jail for a first-time shoplifting offense. Remind him not to miss his court date.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Maya
      Thu, 03 Jun 2010 at 11:07

      okay this is maya again he doesn’t know his court date they did’t tell him when is the court date don’t the judge suppose to send him a date and time for the court date??
      Dear Maya: He can call the court and with his name and other information they ask for, his date to appear should be found.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sam
      Thu, 03 Jun 2010 at 06:53

      If i leave the country to go on my vacation and come back before my trial date. I will be able to get back in the country right? i am a permanent resident and not a citizen yet. They cant not let me back in because of a small shoplifting case?
      Dear Sam: What you are asking requires the expertise of a lawyer who specializes in immigration law. With the many changes in the laws this past decade, we are not qualified to answer nor do we provide legal advice to our readers. We suggest you contact a lawyer about this before your trip or contact a local immigration office. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Bianca
      Fri, 04 Jun 2010 at 02:09

      Hello Tom,
      Last month my friend Taylor, and I went to a mall.
      We live in Denver, Co. And I’m 13 years old and she’s 12. As we were there she suggested that we should go take some stuff from Clairs so we could experience what shoplifting would feel like since we never done it before. Later on she and I stole some stuff and the cashier saw us take it but was to busy to tell us to put it back, so she got her friends to follow us out of the store to see if we took anything out of our pockets. Of course we did. Then, we stopped at a stoplight and the friends told us how it was wrong of what we did and told us to go back and return the items. We did and the cashier called sercurity. We put everything onto the counter and she checked out pockets. As sercurity came down to the store he checked out pockets and put us in cuffs and brought us to the sercurity office. They then got our phone number, names, school, where we lived, what we looked like, and took pictures of us and called our moms and the police. Our parents signed the information to say it was all correct. The police came and gave us tickets and checked out pockets. Now we have to go to court on June 9, 2010. This is our first time shoplifting and all the items were up to $53.
      I’m wondering what will happen to me while in court. Should I plea guilty? Will I get community service? What things could I get for community for examples? How much will the fines come up to?
      Thank you for your time.
      Dear Bianca: Since this is your first offense, the court may give you a chance to participate in their diversion program. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine and attend a class about the law, the case will be closed. You could also receive a letter from the store requiring payment of a fine. We can’t tell you what to do when you go to court. Talk everything over with your parents and the court officer you’ll meet when you go. Now that you know how it feels to shoplift, we hope you’ve learned a lesson about stealing and its consequences. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jane
      Fri, 04 Jun 2010 at 07:23

      Hello, I am really ashamed, but I got caught shoplifting at a store. The securitary called a police. A police came, and wrote down I name, my mother’s name and phone number. (I’m 18 years old) Then, the police said that he was going to contact my mother. Why does he contact my mother? I’m an adult right now…… Also the securitary took my picture and got my personal information. I really don’t want my mother to know about this….. If the police said he was going to, then he would call to my mother for sure? Is anything more I could be punished? or I could get a fine for that by mail? The police didn’t say that I need to go to the court…then am I ok? He just warned me not to do it again because the security didn’t want to punish me.
      Please answer, Thank you
      Dear Jane: If the store told the police they didn’t want to press charges, then you got lucky this time. They still may be able to fine you. If you receive a letter in the mail from the store, pay the fine on time and the case will be closed. Since you live in Canada, the laws of your province may authorize the police to notify your parents even though you’re 18. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jane
      Fri, 04 Jun 2010 at 08:13

      +
      I have another question.
      I am in Vancouver,
      it is going to be recorded?
      And how much is the fine going to be?
      Is there no way to hide this problem to my parents?
      What if my parents couldn’t answer the police’s phone call?
      They would come to my house and areest me?
      Dear Jane: A record of this incident may be kept by the store in the event you return in the future and steal again. Also the police may keep an information sheet on this for a period of time for the same reason. Since the store isn’t pressing charges, you won’t be arrested for anything. The fine could be several hundred dollars.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • mia
      Sat, 05 Jun 2010 at 12:32

      okay so i wrote a couple of weeks back about how me and my littles sister got caught shoplifting. now we got two tickets in the mail mine is for $300 and hers is for $250. to me it makes no sense because i took absolutely nothing. i knew about it but can they really fine my $300 for allowing her to do something? what would happen if i dont pay?
      Dear Mia: If these were tickets from the police or a notice from the court to appear for a hearing, you have a choice of either paying or pleading not guilty and going to trial on the shoplifting charge. If you do that you’ll have a chance to explain your side of the case and hope the judge believes you. If these are letters from the store asking for payment of the fines, you can either pay it or take your chances that they won’t press formal charges. If they do, you’ll receive notice from the court to appear for a hearing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • DeVon Sills
      Sat, 05 Jun 2010 at 03:12

      I have a Warrant out for my arrest I hear since I’m only age 17, when I turn 18 my juvenile records leaves and they don’t really worry about a petty shopplifting crime. Is that true will my warrant eventually leave cause my crime is so petty.
      Dear DeVon: That depends on the laws in your area and the nature of the warrant. If the amount involved in the shoplifting was low, the charge may be dropped once you turn 18. On the other hand it could follow you into your adult life where you’d face adult penalties. The prosecutor could also drop the charges against you now and refile them once you turn 18 which puts you into the adult system. Check with a local criminal defense attorney about your options. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Tori
      Sun, 06 Jun 2010 at 09:05

      Hello.
      About 2 days ago, my friend and I (we are both 13) were caught shoplifting at claire’s in Houston, TX at First Colony . My friend took something, but didnt tell me she put it back, and i stole two earrings totaling 15 dollars. The guy in a white shirt, im guessing a security guard(?) came in and the manager told him everything . then the guy called the police. i had to fill out a “Shoplifting Incident Report” sheet including my name, date of birth, number, address, city/state/zip code & legal guardian. what is going to happen now? will it affect me in the future?

      im really ashamed and a disappointment to my mother, shes a single mom . and i fell really bad for doing this to her knowing she tries hard to provide me with what i need . You reply is appreciated .
      Dear Tori: Considering your age and that this is your first offense, you may not hear anything further from the police or the store. On the other hand, the store may send you a letter requiring payment of a fine. Once it’s paid, the case is closed. If the police gave you a ticket with a court date on it, make sure you tell your Mom and show up in court. You may be offered diversion which is a program where you complete some community service or attend a class and the case is closed and you don’t have a record. Hopefully you’ve learned from this incident and don’t repeat it. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • matt
      Mon, 07 Jun 2010 at 07:37

      ello.

      me and my friend both got caught shoplifting at walmart we both stole 2 video games they were both $50 well we got before we left the store but i was thinking about outing mine back we headed back there i was about to out the game back in the case then the guy stopped us i told him what i was doing and he said yeah right. i go to court tomorrow. it is my first time doing this.
      Dear Matt: Tell the court officer that you’ll meet with when you go to court and the judge what happened and what you intended to do. It might make a difference if you attempted to return the game before you left the store. Otherwise, you may be offered deferred prosecution if you complete some community service and attend a class. That way you won’t have a record and the case will be closed. This will all be explained to you tomorrow at court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • amoii
      Mon, 07 Jun 2010 at 08:18

      i got caught shoplifting,last summer it was my first time and it hasnt happend again, i got diversion and got a signed paper to take to the police, but i had to leave town right away for school, now im back home and figured out i lost the paper to clear my “police record” how can i get a nother one? im takeing nursing and need to get this resolved before i start my co-op, please help!!!
      Dear Amoii: Contact either the court that granted you diversion or the police department that was involved and ask for a new form. If there’s been no new offenses and you completed diversion, you should be able to have your record expunged. Good luck in your studies.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Rick
      Mon, 07 Jun 2010 at 01:51

      Got caught shoplifting at Walmart
      He took my I.D. and written all my info and I gave him a false Social…
      Not arrested but am subject to a $150.00 Fine…I am 21 and the walmart was in New jERSEY
      Will this be on my permeant record?
      Dear Rick: If the police weren’t involved and you weren’t given a court date, there won’t be a record. Walmart may keep its own file on this in the event you return and steal again. Next time, they may choose to press charges. Pay the fine on time and the case will be closed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • matt
      Tue, 08 Jun 2010 at 12:04

      Ello.

      i got back from court well the most they did was let me off with a warning and made me go to a class. Just want to tell u what happened. :D
      Thanks, Matt, for the update.

    • William
      Wed, 09 Jun 2010 at 04:47

      I’m 20 years old and I got caught shoplifting DVDs at Wal-Mart. (Less than $200)I checked out then was confronted by their security. He did grab a hold of my shirt very tightly the whole time so I wouldn’t run away (even though it was obvious I wasn’t) after they got my info, took pictures of the stolen merchandise, the local police handcuffed me and took me to jail. After I was processed I spent 11 hours in jail until I was bailed out by a friend. My original bail was $450, but through a bail bond company it was only $108. I have a citation and a court date. What should I do? Do I need an attorney? Do I plead not-guilty or guilty? This is my first offense and I don’t know what is going to happen.
      Dear William: We can’t tell you what to do or how to plead. That is your decision. You can admit what you did and take the consequences. Since this is your first offense, you may be offered a diversion program. That means when you finish some community service, attend a class or counseling, the case will be dismissed. Or you can deny the incident and go to trial on the shoplifting charge. The process will be explained to you when you appear in court. If you can’t afford a lawyer, one may be appointed for you. Don’t miss your court date or a warrant can be issued for your arrest. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kaelah
      Thu, 10 Jun 2010 at 11:53

      I was at claires and i stole fifty dollers worth of stuff, im not really a bad kid and i just have to know am i going to juvie?? im 13 and i dont wanna go to juvie im a good girl!!!! so, will i go to juvie? n if i do how long will it be? Im sooo scared please help…
      Dear Kaelah: Considering your age and this being a first offense, you’re not likely to be locked up – this time. You may be required to complete a diversion program. That means when you finish some community service or attend a class, the case will be closed. Don’t give in to temptation again because the consequences increase as you reoffend. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kaelah
      Thu, 10 Jun 2010 at 04:21

      theres just a three more questions i have to ask…
      1.) are they gonna yell at me?
      2.)Is there going to be a jury?
      3.)Is there going to be people watching me? like the people who just walk in and watch or just me and my parents and whoever comes with us?
      (and are you a real judge?) just askin nuthing important… :/
      Dear Kaelah: One, no one is going to yell at you in court. Second, most states don’t have juries in juvenile court. You wouldn’t have one anyway if you plan to admit the shoplift. And third, there may be other people in the courtroom when you and your parents arrive. It depends on how your courts are run and the volume of cases. Don’t worry about anyone else there – concentrate on what the judge says to you and your parents. And yes, Judge Tom was a juvenile and family court judge for 23 years before retiring in 2008. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Taylor
      Thu, 10 Jun 2010 at 10:37

      I was caught shoplifting at a walgreens. i stole a lipbalm and at the end the guy was like under cover security. he took me to the back and hand cufed me. he said he was in a good mood and wasnt gonna call the police. my dad came and picked me up and he had to pay a 500 dollar fine. I’m under 18. not fair :(
      Dear Taylor: It may not seem fair but it’s better than being charged with shoplifting, going to court and having a juvenile record. Stores are authorized to impose a fine and many do rather than press charges. Hopefully you’ve learned from this incident and won’t repeat it. Consequences increase as you reoffend. Have you talked with your Dad about repaying him over a period of time? All the best.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Hanna
      Fri, 11 Jun 2010 at 12:18

      hello im 17 yrs old and well just recently me and my friend whent to the mall i havnt seen her in a long WHILE and well this was our first time to hang out. i really didnt know her much(but know i do) but when we were at sears she told me she was going to steal a shirt i was like your kidding and then she said “you dare me” i was like i dont know we were looking for shirts then she puts it on and were walking out and this men stops us and says if she took the shirt from the store i was silent all the time didnt say a word but she said she bought it not too long ago. they only took my name, address, and phone number and they said that we were band from the Mall is this in my permenent record and am i really band from the mall FOREVER and what can i do so they can forgive me for being with the wrong friend at the wrong time
      and i feel really bad and scaerd.:(
      Dear Hanna: First, since the police weren’t involved you don’t have to worry about a “permanent record.” The only record may be those kept by the mall in the event you return. They have the right to ban you for a period of time. If you return while the ban is in place, you could be charged with trespass. Since you didn’t shoplift anything, you could write a letter explaining what happened. Send it to the security office for the mall and see if they will cancel the ban. If they say no, you could try again after a period of time (six months or so). It’s not likely anyone will contact your school about this. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Let
      Fri, 11 Jun 2010 at 10:37

      I stole a 10 shirt from a store and I purchased about 60 dollars worth of other clothes. I did not get caught then but will the police come looking for me now that the store has my credit card info. I feel awful the guilt is eating me alive. Should i mail back the shirt with a note. Awful mistake I will never do that again.
      Dear Let: If the store can identify you as the person who took the shirt and wishes to press charges, you could be notified by mail by either the store or the police. Your thought about returning it with a note is a good idea. We all make mistakes – consider this a learning experience and do the right thing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Hanna
      Fri, 11 Jun 2010 at 11:16

      Hello Hanna here agian about being with the wrong friend when she stoled the shirt and all my information of was taken well the police was involved and they are the ones who took my name, address, phone#, and School should i still send an e-mail oh and plus i was right thier with her when she took it off the hanger and put it on and i didnt say anything because i really didnt know what to say besides dont take it, i barely know her?
      Dear Hanna: It’s your decision about how to handle this. If you write to the store, be sure to explain everything that happened and your relationship with the other girl. You might want to talk this over with your parents first and then decide what to do. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • belle
      Sun, 13 Jun 2010 at 04:18

      this is belle again um by the way I live in minnesota brooklyn park/mineapolis mn and um I want to know my sister and I both got the same court date and time Im 21 she’s 19 I wonder does age make a difference? if I plead guilty and ask to pay for any kinds of fees they trow at me to have the case drop, will it happen? or will i be going to jail… I get really scared when I think about it. I just really really want something not so bad to happen. I heard that the judge will give you options if it’s your first time shoplifting offense. is it true? or is it just people saying? I really don’t know what’s going to happen…
      Dear Belle: Since this is your first offense, you may be offered a diversion program. That means when you complete some community service, attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed and you won’t have a record. You and your sister are both
      adults, so keep in mind if you reoffend, the consequences increase. Don’t miss your hearing date. We can’t tell you how to plead – that’s up to you. When you get to court, a probation officer may explain the process to you and your options. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • alanna
      Sun, 13 Jun 2010 at 04:32

      Hello, my friend was caught stealing last september and I was with her. I didn’t know she was stealing and I didn’t have any stolen items on me. The police where never involved but I still got a fine. I’m trying to aply for jobs now and I don’t know of I have a record or not. I live in Delaware I’d say the store but I don’t want to get you in any trouble. Could you please help me? Thank you! :] ps: will my friend have a record even though she didn’t get taken to the police either?
      Dear Alanna: If the court was not involved in any way, you don’t have an official record. The fine probably came from the store. They are authorized to impose fines on shoplifters rather than press charges and go to court. The store will keep a record of the incident but it’s not public information. Read all questions on job and school applications carefully and answer truthfully. You haven’t been convicted of anything if you didn’t have to go to court. The same goes for your friend. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Alex
      Sun, 13 Jun 2010 at 07:23

      Hello. I was caught tonight stealing a 12.00 drug test from walmart. I was stopped on the way out of the store and taken to the back room. They took down information and released me, saying that no charges would be filed and in the future to only return as a paying customer. After I realized I was caught I made a joke saying what if I have to stop by and use the bathroom. They seemed like nice people and understood that I just made a mistake, while being that it was simply petty theft I understand the ramifications of breaking the law and do not intend to shoplift anymore. My question is that because no police were called and no charges filed is there any legal ramifications? They gave me a letter saying their lawyers could possibly contact me for a civil suit to pay a fine. I understand what I did was wrong and have no problem paying the fine, I am just relieved that this is all that happened. I intend to contact their law offices tomorrow and find out what they would like me to do. Further than this is there anything else that could be done. Furthermore, and here is the killer, I am on probation. Because nothing official happened will my probation officer find out? The lady did not ask for his name or any contact information besides mine. Please let me know all possible outcomes of this situation. Thank you very much.
      Dear Alex: You got lucky this time. Since you’re on probation already, you could be charged with the shoplift as well as violating your probation. Doesn’t one of the probation terms require you to be law-abiding? It’s a standard term all over the U.S. Your PO won’t likely find out about this incident unless you tell him or her. You’ll receive a letter from the store requiring payment of a fine – it’s called a “civil demand” that’s authorized by law in shoplifting cases. Pay it on time and the case will then be closed. You may not hear from the store for several months due to red tape and the volume of cases processed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Let
      Sun, 13 Jun 2010 at 09:54

      Hi this is let again. I went ahead and mailed back the item with a note. I still feel awful though. If the store was going to press charges, how long does that usually take. If I were to get a letter, should I expect it a week or a month. I don’t know what else to do. I think I may go and talk to a counselor or something.
      Dear Let: You’ve done the right thing. Don’t be too hard on yourself – we all make mistakes. Learning from them is what’s important. It could take a month or even longer to hear from them if they’re going to take action. But it’s not likely, especially now that they have the merchandise back. Talk with someone you trust about this if your feelings of guilt continue. All the best.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Mamatha
      Mon, 14 Jun 2010 at 01:47

      I got caught shoplifting a $28 item from a retail store in MN. It was a first time offense; I’ve never been in trouble before. I’m 29 yrs old. I was so scared at the time I thought it best to just cooperate with the shopkeeper and the police and I admitted guilt. I did not sign anywhere. Police issued me a ticket. I’m not a citizen of United States, I ‘m here with my husband on depended visa for temporarily for 8-12 months just months back. I have to appear in court. What should I expect?
      Dear Mamatha: Askthejudge is an educational website for teenagers about the law. Consequently we are unable to answer your questions. We suggest you look at some of the answers we’ve given to teen shoplifters. As a first offender, your options may be the same as stated below. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Audrey
      Mon, 14 Jun 2010 at 11:17

      I was caught shoplifting. An undercover LP caught me as I walked out the door and took me into the back room. There, they proceeded to take my information down, read my rights and waited for the police to come. When the police came, they decided not to press any charges, and just gave me a lecture and a 70$ ticket for trespassing which I paid online a few days later….it was a provincial offences ticket, equivalent to a traffic ticket. However, one of them did write down alot of my information from whatever pieces of ID i had.

      Now I am terrified. I know I do not have a criminal record because I was never charged or convicted. But WILL I BE ABLE TO TRAVEL TO THE US OR HAVE ANY ISSUES TRAVELLING??? I WAS NEVER CHARGED, NO FINGERPRINTS, DIDN’T GO TO COURT. JUST HANDED A TRESPASSING TICKET ($70) AND THEY LET ME GO BUT WROTE SOME OF MY INFO DOWN.

      Alot of souces from the internet are giving me different answers, some say I will have no problem travelling and others say I might. Please HELP!!!
      Dear Audrey: Most likely you do not have a criminal record since what you received from the police was a ticket that you’ve paid. If you did not have to go before or judge and did not plead guilty, you only received a civil citation, much like a traffic ticket as you stated. It shouldn’t have any affect on your travels to the U.S. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Audrey
      Tue, 15 Jun 2010 at 06:59

      Are you able to travel with an arrest record? or having a previous contact with the police?
      Dear Audrey: You’re free to travel unless restrictions have been placed on you by court order. If you have a court date and travel before it comes around, make sure you appear on the scheduled date or the court may issue a warrant for your arrest. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Audrey
      Tue, 15 Jun 2010 at 03:51

      Thank you. No I do not have a court date or have i had any restrictions placed on me. The police came, lectured me on not to ruin my life, gave me the 70$ ticket, told me to pay it in 15 days and then left. I also left with a civil demand notice. That is it. I’m just reading a lot about people with past arrests (like protestors) who have tried to gain entry and have been denied…so that is why i am asking. I just hope that it doesn’t show up at the border.

    • Dan
      Tue, 15 Jun 2010 at 11:28

      hey my friend just called me the other day and told me that she stole shoes from a store the clerk saw her and she ran and got away. shes scared and worried what can happen like do they have her pic up in the mall oh yeah she ran through the mall she said and I can defently not say anymore that I told this about her cause I was the only one she told i think sooo can she go to that mall again
      Dear Dan: Unless she was told by someone with authority such as the store owner/manager, mall security or the police not to return to the mall, she’s allowed to. It’s not likely that her photo is displayed in the mall unless that’s the mall’s practice and they have or took a picture of her. She may have gotten away with this shoplift but her luck will run out eventually. We hope she’ll change her ways. All the best.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • belle
      Wed, 16 Jun 2010 at 09:12

      hi this belle again earlier you said that if I was offer a diversion program. well lets say if I did, will the record clear out or it’ll stay in there if I apply for a job do I check no or yes to explain?
      Dear Belle: “Diversion” means the case is diverted away from the judicial process meaning there won’t be an official record of the incident. We can’t tell you how to answer questions on applications. Read them very carefully and answer truthfully. Words such as “arrested” and “convicted” are important in job, school, etc. applications. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Adam
      Wed, 16 Jun 2010 at 08:45

      I am a minor turning 18 next month. I have been caught shoplifting once before at Nordstroms, but there was no conviction or court date, just a civil demand so it is not on my record.I recently got caught shoplifting at Walmart. An officer was called to the scene, and issued me a citation with a misdemeanor pending court date on it. I accidentally told the officer it was my second time being caught stealing which i shouldn’t have. I shouldn’t have told him, because the first time I got caught was at Nordstroms and I just had to pay a civil demand with no charges (so it is not on my record). I’ve made a stupid mistake by shoplifting in the first place and sincerely regret it.

      How can I fix this?
      Will the officer be there at the time of my court date?
      Can I tell the judge that it is my first offense and ask for a diversion program?
      What should I do?
      Dear Adam: It is very unlikely that the officer will be at your first court date especially considering the populated area you live in [Orange County, Calif.]. Although you previously got caught shoplifting, you do not have any “prior” offense on your record since the shoplifting incident was handled civilly rather than criminally. Therefore, you may be offered a diversion program. If diversion is not an option in your case, you still will most likely be offered some type of probation or just have to complete community service, pay a fine and attend a class or counseling. Remember that the penalties will continue to increase for additional offenses, so we hope you learned from this incident.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Sara
      Wed, 16 Jun 2010 at 09:10

      Hi there, im really really scared of what is to happen to me. I got caught shoplifting and the total was $70 they gave me a misdameanor. I was taken to jail… got booked and was bonded out. I had already paid 189 for the bond people to come get me. I have a court date in about a month. im really really scared. i also don’t have anything else on my record besides a speeding ticket. what should i expect at court? also, i cannot afford an attorney. I am 24 years old and still in college. is there something i should do before court time? i heard you can talk to a prosecutor if you arrive to court early. I’m really scared :( please help me.
      Dear Sara: Since this is your first offense, you’ll probably be offered diversion when you go to court. Yes, arrive early and you may get a chance to meet with a court officer or the prosecutor to discuss the process. If you admit the shoplift and accept diversion, you’ll have to complete some community service, attend a class or counseling and then the case will be closed. At this first hearing it’s unlikely anyone from the store will be there, although they have a right to appear – this is not a trial so witnesses don’t usually appear the first time. You may receive something in the mail before the hearing. Read it carefully and follow the instructions. Don’t miss your court date. Relax and good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sara
      Thu, 17 Jun 2010 at 09:54

      Hi there! thank you sooo much for the quick reply! so after a sleepless night :( i woke up bright and early to give the court that i have to to go to in Jul and spoke with a clerk. She knew it was me when i told her my court date :( pretty sad.. but anyway, she said the first day i would be sitting and the judge will call out names and when he calls my name i would either have to say guilty, no guilty or no contest. and she said he basically said its no contest for my case and she had just entered my info in the system :( no, if i do no contest i would have to pay a 680 fine +10 for court fee. and thats it.. but it’ll still be on my record, of course :( nowwwww since i know thats gonna happen, i was wondering if i plea no contest, will there be anyway to expunge it?? or whatever the word is.. she said if i wanted to try to clear it.. i would have to plea not guilty and have a second court date. at the second court date he would call my name.. the judge and i would ask to speak to a solicitor.. and then explain to the judge and ask them if there is anyway to get this clear of records.. is that the only way to go about that? im just scared if i plea not guilty i’d have to “fight” and get an attorney but i cannot afford one :( so i guess im jsut wondering if i plea no contest if there is a way to go back and try to clear my files after i pay the fine… thanks again!!!
      Dear Sara: We cannot tell you how to plead. That’s entirely up to you since whatever you do will affect your life. You may want to talk with a lawyer [solicitor] in your area for advice. Pleading no contest is treated the same as pleading not guilty. After accepting the plea the court proceeds to sentencing. In most jurisdictions the opportunity to clear or expunge your record after a period of time exists. However, you may have to wait a year or so. Ask your attorney or someone at court about the time required. Good luck
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Amy
      Sat, 19 Jun 2010 at 03:51

      Hi im Amy i got cought shoplifting last week. i got a lipgloss from h&m and two nail polishes from boots i got cought in Boots store they took me in to a room took my name adress and a picture. the manager said i was band from the store and that i will recieve a letter with the detailed amount of money i need to pay (fine).. the items wer less than £10 all together .. i live in london .. will i have a criminal record and will this effect my futer .. as well as i havent recieved the letter yet .. i am soo worried as well as how much will the fine be around ?
      Dear Amy: Since this is your first offense the store may choose not to press charges against you. They can impose a fine that once it’s paid the case is closed. You won’t have a criminal record to worry about from this incident. Since you were banned from the store, don’t return or they can file trespass charges against you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Barry
      Sun, 20 Jun 2010 at 02:16

      Okay, I live in West Virginia, and I got caught shoplifting. I’m only 15 years old, but I was on probation for underage consupition. When I went into the store, I stole some alchool(Lord Calvert and After Shock). Can you tell me what might happen?
      Dear Barry: Since you’re already on probation a number of things may happen. You could be charged with violating your probation and shoplifting. The consequences may be stricter than what you were originally put on probation for, including some time in detention. It all depends on the facts of the case, your history with the court, your probation officer’s recommendation to the court, and the judge.
      From here on, follow your probation terms to the letter in order to avoid even greater consequences. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Anne
      Sun, 20 Jun 2010 at 12:27

      Hello
      About 6 months ago I was caught shoplifting about $70 in a large grocery store in Toronto, Canada. I was arrested and a police officer was called in, he took down my name, address, physical decription and I signed a sheet from the store (I don’t recall what it was for, they gave me a copy but I don’t have it anymore). I was also banned from the store.

      I was let go afterwards and a few months later I recieved a letter from the store saying to pay a fine to cover costs involved in arresting me, or else I may go to court. I paid the fine and everything’s over and done with.

      My question is, do I have a criminal record resulting from this? I never had to go to court or down to the police station to get fingerprints, etc. Just fined by the store and my info taken down by the policeman. I was 24 at the time and I’ve never been in trouble before or after that incident.
      Dear Anne: Based on your description of what happened, you don’t have an official criminal record. Since you weren’t formally charged with a crime and didn’t go to court, you weren’t convicted of anything. The matter was handled as a civil offense and is now closed. If you’re still banned from the store, don’t return or you can be charged with trespass. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

      Thank you.

    • Ana, :D
      Sun, 20 Jun 2010 at 11:53

      Hi, i’m ana. i ranaway from home, for 3 days, and on the 3rd day the cops found me Shoplifting with my friend who also ranaway. We we’re both arrested, and charged with Burglary. i’m a minor, i’m only gunna be 15 in 8 days. i stole from 4 stores because i needed clothes cuss i was a runaway, we stole from h&m, wetseal, sephora, and AmericanAppareal. AA banned us from the store, in the process of us getting arrested… i have a mugshot, n’ court.! i really want to know what the court is going to do to me?! it’s my first offence, i went a while back n’ they we’re talking something about going from a felony to a misdeminor, i accepted the charges put on me. & i have to go back to court for their final desicion…what do you think there gunna say? :O i’m scaredd.
      Dear Ana: Since this is your first offense, you may be placed on probation with community service, fines and classes or counseling. The judge could also impose jail or detention time depending on the laws of your state, but may give you an opportunity to comply with the terms of your sentence. If you violate the terms or get into more trouble, then jail time is more likely. We hope you learned from this incident. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Kimberly
      Mon, 21 Jun 2010 at 12:38

      well i got stealing for the first time at macys. i stole some nice pair of levis and there was no sensor thing on it. i went into the fitting room with a couple of other items to not make it obvious that i was jacking the jeans. i put the jeans in my person and left macys. This lady then followed me and said i got stolen merchadise and i have to come with her. They called my parents and we had to pay a fine and they told me i have court. How long does it take for them to mail you and inform you that you have court? And they said i can’t miss the court date cause i’ll go to juvi or something but my parents booked a family vaca in flordia and what would happen if we are in flordia but we couldn’t make it to the court?
      Dear Kimberly: The notice to appear in court may take weeks or even months to be mailed to you depending on how populated the area is where you live and the number of cases filed and pending in your local court. If you receive the notice and the court date happens to be when you will be in Florida with your family, contact the clerk of the court and explain the circumstances. They will probably be able to give you an extension and move your court date to after your planned family vacation. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Nick
      Mon, 21 Jun 2010 at 11:02

      Hello,
      Me(14) and my friend(15) were caught shoplifting at Zellers. As soon as we got past the electronic security scanner, two guys grabbed our shirts and took us to this room where they took down our information, banned us from the store for 1 year, called the cops and called our parents. My mom was at work so the officer took me to her workplace. The officer gave me a court date and told me that i will have to pay a fine. I got a letter asking to pay the fine today and my mom is going to pay tomorrow. Now all I have left to do is attend the police station so they can take my finger prints, photos etc. and I have a court date. What will happen in court. I have done some researching and found out that since this is my first offense, i wont get charged. Is this true and what will I have to do in court to not go to jail. And I am thinking about writing an apology letter to Zellers. Is that a good idea?

      Thanks
      Dear Nick: Since this is your first offense, you may be offered a diversion program. This means that upon successful completion of community service, payment of a fine and attending a class or counseling, the case would be closed and the charges not filed or dismissed. Jail time is very unlikely because this is your first offense. However, if you violate the terms of your sentence or program, it may be more likely. A sincere apology letter would be a good idea regardless of your court case. We hope you learned from this incident as you will face more serious consequences for additional offenses. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • sara
      Mon, 21 Jun 2010 at 12:14

      I kept thinking about my situation and i was wondering what the difference is between pleaing no contest and guilty. And if i were to plea no contest and pay the fine bc i dont want to have to go back for another court date. Will it still be possible for me to exphunge my record or have my record cleaned? thank you so much!
      Dear Sara: Pleading no contest means that you’re not objecting to what the state would present as evidence at trial that you committed the crime. You’re not admitting the offense but the court may find you guilty based on the state’s evidence. As far as sentencing goes, a no contest plea is treated the same as if you had pleaded guilty. Once you complete the terms ordered at sentencing you may be able to apply for expungement of your record. Ask a court or probation officer about this. You may have to wait a period of time [1 year for example] before you’re eligible to apply. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jessica
      Mon, 21 Jun 2010 at 02:55

      i got caught shoplifting about 2 weeks ago but have recieved no court date letter or anything what should i do ? do you think they will let it slide it was my 1st offense with no previous record of any sort
      Dear Jessica: The store may choose to send you a “civil demand” letter requiring payment of a fine. If you receive this letter, be sure to pay the fine on time if you admit to the shoplifting, and that may be the end of the matter with no court charges filed. However, you may receive a notice to appear in court. It could take weeks or even months to receive this notice depending on where you live and how many cases are pending in your local court. Since this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion. This means that the case would be closed and any charges dismissed upon successful completion of a class or counseling and payment of a fine. Remember that the penalties will increase for additional offenses, so we hope you learned from this incident. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Nia
      Tue, 22 Jun 2010 at 02:45

      Ok..My friend who is 17 years(6 months pregnant) old just called me like twenty minutes ago.When she called she stated that she had stolen a t shirt from walmart and is now on her way to fulton county jail.I do know that she was with two other females that had stolen alot of things. But far as my friend I dont know whats going on with her at this moment.Can you please tell me what goes on when she arrives to the jail,and Will she serve time? Im worried sick! Please Help!!!
      Dear Nia: If this is her first offense, she’s not likely to spend any time in jail. She may be offered diversion which means when she completes some community service, attends a class or pays restitution the case will be closed. If this isn’t her first offense she may be placed on probation with specific terms she’ll be required to follow. Since she’s six months pregnant, it’s doubtful she’ll be locked up just for this offense. If she’s been banned from the store, tell her not to return or she’ll be charged with trespass. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Amy
      Wed, 23 Jun 2010 at 08:43

      Hi its Amy again .. i still havent recieved the letter for the fine its been a week and a few days .. do you think i should go and check with the store or just leave it.. ?
      Dear Amy: It may take several weeks for you to receive this letter, so just try to relax and be patient.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • nicole
      Wed, 23 Jun 2010 at 12:34

      i got caught shop lifting at walmart, awhile ago and they still haven’t sent me my letter from their lawyer so i can pay my fee. do you know how i can contact them?
      Dear Nicole: It may take several weeks for you to receive this “civil demand” letter. However, if you have not moved and they have your current contact information, it’s possible that you may be lucky and they decided to not bother sending you the letter especially if the value of the item stolen was very low. You could just wait it out and see whether they send the letter to you and if several months go by, it’s unlikely that you will receive one. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Amy
      Thu, 24 Jun 2010 at 12:07

      Hi im so sorry i know i have been very i annoying but its because im stressed out … however, i recieved the letter the fine was £80 .. i am going to pay it .. but i have one last question as soon as i pay this money .. would i have any record that would stop me from getting into university and getting a job later .. thank you so much this means alot to me.
      Dear Amy: In the United States you wouldn’t have a record of this incident because it was handled as a civil matter. Once you pay the amount the store requires, the case is closed. No need to worry about future job or school applications. It’s most likely the same in the UK. This shouldn’t have any affect on your future. All the best.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kaelah
      Thu, 24 Jun 2010 at 12:20

      hey i have another question… do i need an aturney? and what questions is the judge going to ask me?
      Dear Kaelah: You and your parents need to decide whether you need an attorney or not. When you go to court the process will be explained to you. If you’re unable to hire your own lawyer, the court may appoint one for you. If you decide to admit the charge, the judge will want you to explain what you did. He or she needs to hear from you what happened before deciding whether you broke the law or not. You also asked about how long you’d be locked up in juvie. That depends on the law that applies in this case and the judge assigned to you. It’s not likely you’d get any detention time if this is your first offense. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jake
      Thu, 24 Jun 2010 at 01:36

      i was cuaght shop lifting with one of my friends… but the didnt arrest us they just gave us a ticket and let us go. so that same day i went to go pay the fine. so, i’m still wondering if it stays in our record or not? even if i don;t have to go to court
      Dear Jake: It depends on your state laws about shoplifting. If you didn’t go to court or plead guilty to the shoplifting, you’re not likely to have an official criminal or juvenile record. If the fine you paid was imposed by the store and that’s who you paid, then it was handled as a civil matter. Bottom line: don’t steal again because the consequences increase and you will end up with a “record.” Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jake
      Thu, 24 Jun 2010 at 08:39

      Well i live in the state of texas. after they let me go from the store i went to go pay my ticket at the police station. and it came out to $200 and they told me if i wanted to go to court and pledge not guilty and i said no.
      Dear Jake: Since you paid the fine at the police department then there is a record of this incident with them. They will likely keep it on file until you turn 18. You can ask at the police station what their policy is regarding juvenile records and how to have it expunged. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Laura
      Fri, 25 Jun 2010 at 01:15

      Hello Judge,

      I’m 21 and I got caught today at Dillards. I live in Texas, the item was worth 69 dollars and this is my first type of offense of any kind ,aside from paid and dismissed speeding tickets thanks to defensive driving. The cops were called because I didn’t have my ID but when they didn’t show, the security guard and an woman walked me to my car to get it with me. They took my information down, banned me from ever entering any dillards, and began to file a police report. The police didn’t show though and I was let go. I hugged the security guy who stopped me, as we made friends while we were waiting for the police. What can I expect from this point?
      Dear Laura: Since you left the store on good terms with security, you may not hear anything further regarding this incident. On the other hand they could still file a police report. If charges are pressed against you, you’ll receive a notice in the mail to appear in court. You could also receive a letter from the store requiring payment of a civil fine. Once it’s paid the case is closed. Make sure you don’t return to the store since you were banned. It’s considered trespassing to violate a ban from a store. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advbice].

    • Mohammad
      Fri, 25 Jun 2010 at 01:43

      Hi today I got caught while shoplifting from JCPenny Tulsa. I am really shamed about what I have done. It was worth of $350. They called the police and took all my information from my drivers licence and then let me go. Asked me to go to the court and discuss about the ticket with the Judge. No charge accused so far. Its depending on the judge I guess. What should I do now with this shameful incident I have done today? Will it be a permanent criminal record? Will it harm my Job opportunity? I am 24 years old and this is my first offense. Please suggest me if you can. Thanks
      Dear Mohammad: Since this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine, restitution to the store, or attend a class, the case will be closed without a formal criminal record. The process and your options will be explained to you when you go to court. Don’t miss your court date or a warrant could be issued for your arrest. Since you’re an adult, if you end up with a record, after a certain period of time you can apply for its expungement. Ask about this when you’re in court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Nicole
      Fri, 25 Jun 2010 at 10:16

      Hi. I was caught shoplifting under $25 from Wal Mart. They took my ID and have all of my information, but no police were called and they just banned me from the store. They never said I would be charged with any sort of money or anything, but I keep reading online that they send letters asking to pay hundreds of dollars in “fines.” I was never told I would receive this, but is it possible I will? Also, do I have to pay it?
      Dear Nicole: Stores are authorized in most states to impose civil fines on shoplifters. They can reach into the hundreds of dollars. If you don’t pay they can press charges against you. It may take a few weeks or even months before you hear from them. If you’re unsure about what to do, talk with your parents or a criminal defense lawyer. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Mohammad
      Fri, 25 Jun 2010 at 12:27

      Thanks for your info. I need to know few more things. My court date is on 9th of July. But I am leaving USA in 6th and will return on August 14th. I am going back to my country and its urgent. I can’t skip this. I went to the Tulsa Municipal Court today and they said it might take time to get my ticket into their data base. I need to change the first court date. What should I do?
      Dear Mohammad: It might take time but you don’t want to miss your court date. Ask the court for a continuance and explain why you need it. Provide the court with a copy of your travel itinerary [for example, your plane tickets] to verify your request for a continuance. Try calling the court first or maybe you’ll have to make another trip there. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • mamut
      Fri, 25 Jun 2010 at 12:43

      hi my name is mamut and i have 50 hours of comunity service and to report once a month but din´´t did any of this i left the countri(CANADA) what its gonna happen with me when i am going back to canada??….sorry if u don´t understand
      Dear Mamut: If you were ordered by a court to complete the hours and report monthly, you may be in trouble if you ignore these orders. If you are on probation and left the court’s jurisdiction, a warrant for your arrest may be issued by the court. If you have a probation officer, call him or her and ask about the consequences of your actions and how to remedy the situation. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Mohammad
      Fri, 25 Jun 2010 at 04:56

      Thanks again. Surely I will call them back again on Monday and ask them what can I do. Generally how long doest it take to get the info in their data base? How common is it to shift the court date? Do I need to make any further preparation? I really need to make this trip! Thanks for all the info you provided so far.
      Dear Mohammad: Continuances are common but you need to show the court a valid reason for requesting one. Your scheduled trip should be enough for the court to grant a brief extension of your hearing. The volume of cases in your area dictates the amount of time it takes to enter it into the court’s system. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Tiffany W*
      Fri, 25 Jun 2010 at 09:04

      Hello. I was caught shoplifting at Aerie today and the lady at the store asked me to return the item, let me finish shopping, and no mall security was called. As I was shopping in other stores people were basically watching me, but nobody said anything to me about it. I’m just curious as to what can happen?
      Dear Tiffany: If no one took any identifying information from you, you may have gotten lucky this time. If they have your name and address you may receive a letter from the store requiring payment of a fine. Once it’s paid the case is closed. Or they could press shoplifting charges against you. If that happens you’ll receive a notice in the mail of a court hearing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Emily
      Sat, 26 Jun 2010 at 09:30

      Hi. A few years ago when I was about 10 or 11, I got caught stealing some lip glosses from Meijers in Michigan. The store security took me to a back room and the police were called. They asked me a few questions (name, age, etc). My mom was with me at the time. The total price of the items I stole came out to be about $26. I got to go home afterwords and I don’t think they sent any sort of Civil demands letter or court letter. When I was in the room they told me I could have gone to juvenile jail for this. I want to know if the police comes does it mean that I was arrested? I was never handcuffed or anything, I was just asked a bunch of questions in the security room of Meijers. Also, this was a while back but I didn’t have to go to court or anything so does that mean I don’t have a juvenile record? I am really worried this could hinder my college application process.
      Dear Emily: Based on what you’ve described you were not arrested and don’t have to worry about future job or college applications. “Arrest” means you were not free to leave – that the police took you into custody. Since your Mom was there and you were allowed to leave with her, you weren’t arrested. It sounds like the matter is closed and hopefully you’ve leanred a lesson. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Emily
      Sat, 26 Jun 2010 at 01:50

      Thank you for your answer. So what does the police do with my information? Do they put it in their police records? Do colleges and employers have access to that information? Also, why did Meijers call the police to come if they weren’t pressing charges or anything? Thanks.
      Dear Emily: Stores will often notify the police so a record is made of the incident – it’s for information purposes only. If you shoplift again they will know this isn’t the first time and the case may be handled differently. Usually schools don’t do record checks on applicants. Some of the larger corporations do background checks but not all employers. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Cynthia E.
      Sat, 26 Jun 2010 at 03:36

      Hello. I was caught shoplifting at a store yesterday and the lady at the store asked me to return the item, let me finish shopping, and no mall security was called. As I was shopping in other stores people were basically watching me, but nobody said anything to me about it. They might have information on me from my rewards card but Im not sure they can pull up the information unless the card is scanned. I recieved nothing in the mail today so I’m just curious as to what could happen?
      Dear Cynthia: It sounds like you got lucky this time. Without your contact information it’s not likely you’ll hear anything else about this incident. You could receive notice in the mail requiring payment of a fine to the store. Pay it promptly and the case will be closed. You may not receive the letter for a month or two. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Emily
      Sat, 26 Jun 2010 at 09:30

      So what exactly is a background check? And who has access to them? What would it say if they searched my name? Is it anything I should be worried about? Will it be on my permanent record or juvenile record? I never had to pay a fine or go to court. What exactly is a police record? Do scholarship agencies do “background” checks? I’m still confused to what exactly lays ahead in my future because of this. If you could explain it I would appreciate it.
      Dearily: A background check is an investigation into your past. Standard questions sent to police agencies, employers and references that you list on an application include criminal or juvenile history, past jobs, education, etc. As far as employment questions, reasons for getting fired are confidential. If you end up with a record in juvenile court, it may not be permanent. At a certain point you can apply for expungment of the record. All the best.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Emily
      Sun, 27 Jun 2010 at 05:42

      So if I never had to go to juvenile court and pay any fees would there even be anything about shoplifting on my juvenile record? Its not like I was convicted and had to go to court, so how could the police write anything on my record?
      Dear Emily: You wouldn’t have anything on the court’s record but could have an information card or document on file with the police for their own records. And that’s only if the police were involved and took a report. You can call the police department and ask if you have anything on file with them and how you can get it cleared. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Emily
      Sun, 27 Jun 2010 at 03:40

      Sorry for so many questions, I am just very concerned. So what exactly is a “juvenile criminal record”? Is that the record kept with the court? or the one kept with the police? Also, since this happened seven years ago, do the police clear this incident automatically? Also, since the police never reported this information to my elementary/middle/high school, how would colleges have access to this incident? Thank you very much for your responses.
      Dear Emily: Yes, it’s the one kept by the court if kept at all. Each state’s juvenile system operates independently and in some instances differently. You’d have to check with yours to see how long they keep their records. The same with police departments around the country. They most likely have no record of this incident. And usually colleges and universities don’t do record checks, so you can relax.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Mohammad
      Sun, 27 Jun 2010 at 11:00

      Hi its Mohammad again. I was wondering what might be my fine for shop lifting of $384. Its my first time and I am really shocked about what I have done!! If they ask me for community service how many hours it might get? If the judge don’t provide me with the diversion option then can I ask him for that? Thanks again for all the informations.
      Dear Mohammad: Every juvenile court has its own rules and policies. You can ask about a diversion program when you go to court and also about what to expect as a fine. The court officer will be familiar with your court’s policy. The laws of your state also spell out the possible penalties for shoplifting. It’s up to the judge to set the number of community service hours – based on other jurisdictions, you can expect at least 30, maybe more. Try Googling your state’s name and “juvenile court shoplifting penalties” for more information. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • sara
      Mon, 28 Jun 2010 at 12:26

      hi there so in ga, in the county that i was caught for shoplifting, my name is now on thecitizen.com i was wondering if i could get that removed from the web? is there anyway to get my name and pulic report removed? please help me! thanks.. :(
      Dear Sara: Public records are just that – public. You could contact the website, explain why you would like your name removed and see if they’ll honor your request. Also talk with your parents about this. If you’re under 18 the information may be protected under the laws of your state. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • sara
      Mon, 28 Jun 2010 at 10:08

      Hi its me again. i’ve emailed the publisher/editor and he said “not unless the police erred the name” but its just a newspaper. can i take legal action? im over 18..
      thanks againn.
      Dear Sara: Under your state’s laws you may have certain privacy rights. Talk with a lawyer who is familiar with privacy laws and the First Amendment. You could call your State Bar Association and ask for a reference to a lawyer who practices in this area of law. He or she may provide a free consultation for 30-60 minutes. Keep in mind that litigation is expensive, lengthy and may bring you more publicity – exactly what you’re trying to avoid regarding your name in a newspaper that is pretty much dead news the day after it’s printed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Niaye
      Mon, 28 Jun 2010 at 10:22

      Hey, This happened Saturday.
      Me(14), my god sister(15), and my little sister(5) were shopping at the mall in Rochester, NY. My mom just offered to buy me some shorts but we wanted to shop for ourselves so she gaved me the money and we went to Rue 21 bought some clothes, then went to Sears thats when we messed up. We wasnt suppose to be there and we didnt really need anything out of there because we couldve just bought stuff out of the teen stores. But my lil sister didnt wanna go in there and I should have listened, we went in there stole a shirt and a pair shorts about $32 dollars. When we walked out two men came running behind us and said “mall security come with us.” We were claim and did everything the said they called our parents, the police came and took information. They also said the clothes were good enough to go back on the shelf so we wouldnt be charged extra. Gave us a ticket with no court date on it and we were free to go. In Janurary I was caught stealing me and my aunt I had probation but got off early for good behavior and its not on my record so I wouldnt have to tell nobody about it. & My life has been hell ever since im really sorry if I can go back in time I swear I would but I cant so… What will happen to us? Could we just pay the fine or do community service? I really dont want probation again. PLEASE HELP WERE SCARED.
      Dear Niaye: If the ticket you received has no court date on it, you may be sent a notice in the mail from either the court or the store. The store may require you to pay a fine called a “civil demand.” Pay it on time and the case will be closed. If you’re notified about a court date, don’t miss it. If you don’t hear anything at all, you got lucky this time. Think twice before shoplifting again. Consequences increase as you repeat this behavior. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Deyla
      Mon, 28 Jun 2010 at 11:33

      This happened this saturday. I went to the mall with some cousins and some of their friends. We split up and i went with 2 cousins and her friend. Me and my girl cousin stole a bathinsuit she stole the top and i the bottom but they werent even for us they were for her friend and her friend stole alot of jewelry that i swear i didnt know about and my cousin claims she didnt know about it either. Well they caught us and they callled the police and our parents. They took us(me and my cousin) to juvie and her friend to jail because she was seventeen. They decided to charge all of us with the same thing but i dont understand why because both me and my cousin only had the swimsuit and it was only like 17 dollars. They told us we have to go to court and we will get a letter in 3 to 6 weeks. I dont want this to end up on my permenant record because i have never done this before and i want to get a good job next year when im 16. I live in Houston Tx so please tell me what you think or know might probably happen.
      Dear Deyla: Shoplifting is stealing no matter what the value of the item. Since this is your first offense and you’re 15, you may be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling the case will be closed and you won’t have a record. If your court doesn’t offer diversion and you admit the shoplifting, at some point in the future you can apply to have your record expunged. When you go to court ask about this. Think twice before doing this again because the consequences increase as you reoffend. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • sara
      Mon, 28 Jun 2010 at 06:22

      I understand that it have already been in the newpapers. but the face that it is still online is what gets me. I just dont want for people to be able so search my name and see that under crime and has my full name and shoplifting right next to it :( i’ll try what you have mentioned and hope ot get something done. thank you. :(

    • Mohammad
      Mon, 28 Jun 2010 at 09:31

      Mohammad again. My case is still not in their data base yet. I need to leave the country on coming 6th. So I need to postpone my court date by 2nd july then. But if it doesn’t show up in their database by then, what should I do? I called Municipal Court today and they said it may take more then a week! What should I do ?
      Dear Mohammad: It might be a good idea to put your request for a continuance in writing so the court has a record of it. That way the judge won’t think you simply blew off your court date. In your letter be sure to state your full name and the ticket or case number. Also attach a copy of your itinerary showing your trip dates – maybe a copy of your plane tickets. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Mohammad
      Tue, 29 Jun 2010 at 12:21

      Thanks for such a great info. But where should I drop this letter? To whom should I refer?
      Dear Mohammad: The letter needs to go to the court – to the assigned judge if you know his or her name. Don’t forget to put the case number on the letter and outside of the envelope.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Trami
      Wed, 30 Jun 2010 at 12:58

      Hi, I live in BC Canada and a friend (both 19) and i got caught stealing cosmetics worth about 350 total. The cops were called but didnt arrest us. He didnt fingerprint us or anything and said that he wasletting us go but the loss preventions guy said that now this case is a civil matter. He said that if we got caught doing anything like drinking and driving etc our record will say we got arrested for theft. DOes this mean it is on my permanent record? If it does will i be unable to get a job? what civil action will be taken? will i have to go to court?
      Dear Trami: If you weren’t arrested or charged with shoplifting or theft, you don’t have a criminal record for this incident. The record the officer mentioned may be one kept by the police department for future purposes. In other words, if you steal again and the police see that you were given a break this time, they will likely charge you with a crime. If this incident is handled as a civil matter by the store, you will receive notice in the mail requiring payment of a fine. You can expect to receive it within a month or two. Pay the fine on time and the case will be closed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Amanda
      Wed, 30 Jun 2010 at 01:54

      Hi, I live in Florida and I am 21 years old. I was caught stealing from Bealls Outlet Store and I had already walked out the store an was on my way to the car when some guy stopped me an told me I had to come inside sor stealing at this point I was freaking out crying already because I knew I made a huge mistake. This was the first time I ever did something like that. They took all my info and called the cops they checked my background and because I have a clean record they let me go but gave me a Notice to appear citation so I have to set a court date and appear in front of the judge. I am soo terrified because of my age that they wont let me off the hook so easily I dont mind paying a fine but will I be going to jail? I am a single Mom and I can’t go to jail I am soo scared. What is going to happen when I go to court? It wasn’t a felony it was a midemeanor thats why they let me go soo whats going to happen? I’ve never been in trouble before and I’m reallt freaked out please help me.
      Dear Amanda: First, relax. Since this is your first offense and it’s a misdemeanor you will probably be offered to participate in a diversion program. That means when you complete some community service hours, pay a fine or restitution to the store, attend a clas or counseling, the case will be closed. You are not likely to receive any jail time. Don’t miss your court date. The process will be explained to you at the court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Chrsitine
      Wed, 30 Jun 2010 at 08:54

      Hi me and my friend were caught shoplifting a $3 chocolate bar at sears
      this is my first offence they called the police but i was not charged.
      they asked for my name and other questions
      but i accidentally gave them a wrong address (I got two numbers mixed up)

      They made me sign a notice that says they will take legal actions for the merchandise i took. but because my parents were not there I signed where it said parent/legal guardien signature

      do i still have to pay the fine? I didnt technically sign it? because i heard if i didnt sign the notice then i dont have to pay the required compensation – should i go back and clear up my address mistake? PLEASE HELP ME
      Dear Christine: If you received a ticket or citation with a stated fine, you should pay it and the case will be closed. Otherwise it could follow you around and become a problem later. If you choose to ignore it because of some incorrect information on the ticket, either you’ll never hear about it again or eventually you may hear from the store and/or police. Do what you think is right. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • juju
      Thu, 01 Jul 2010 at 02:24

      Okay I got caught shoplifting at a store but I also had things from other stores but only the store I got caught shoplifting at prosecuted my total was 68 dollars what could I be charged with ?
      Dear Juju: You may be charged with shoplifting which is a misdemeanor if the value of the item taken falls under a certain amount. You will receive notice in the mail regarding a court date. If you don’t you could also receive a letter from the store requiring payment of a fine. Pay it on time and the case will be closed. This incident shouldn’t have any affect on future college or job applications. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • kelly
      Thu, 01 Jul 2010 at 03:10

      im 17 my friend and i were caught shoplifting over 500 dollars worth of stufff so they called the cops they took down our info and said we may or may not get a court date. we are being sopoivly fined through khols where it happend and banned from the storw till we are 21. it has been almost a week and nothin has come in the mail yet. We will have to pay for damages if any and have to pay their fine. idk if the cops fined us and im scared it will show up on my perminate record what is going to happen? ims o scared i have learned my lesson trust me i mean it gave me a pannic attack they had to call the an ambiulance
      Dear Kelly: You may receive a letter in the mail from the store requiring payment of a fine. Once you pay it the case will be closed and you won’t have a record that will affect your future. If, however, the local prosecutor files shoplifting charges against you, you will be notified of a court date. When you appear at court the process will be explained to you. You can plead guilty or not guilty – it’s your decision. If this is a first offense, you’re likely to receive some community service hours, restitution, a class or counseling. It could take a month or two before you hear anything from the court or the store. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Ashley
      Thu, 01 Jul 2010 at 05:24

      hi, my friend was caught shoplifting a pair of jeans under 10$, after bags were emptied the worker told her to leave and never come back e enot called
      and she says no matter what she is not telling her parents
      Dear Ashley: She should tell her parents for two reasons: First, they’ll find out if they take her to the store and someone approaches her and her parents and brings up the incident and the trespass warning; second, it’s the right thing to do. She can explain to them why she did it and how she feels about it now. Honesty is always the best in any situation. Good luck to your friend.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Brianna
      Thu, 01 Jul 2010 at 08:44

      Hi. I’m Brianna, I’m 19. I got arrested last year for stealing make up at Wal-Mart.. It was around 80 dollars worth.. I got 24 hours of community service.. I am almost 8 months pregnant now and got caught a few says ago stealing a bra that was no more than 8 dollars. I don’t want them to take my baby away. Will that happen? What should I expect?
      Dear Brianna: It’s not likely that you’ll receive any jail time, especially being pregnant or with a newborn. If your first shoplifting was when you were under 18, the adult court may not have a record of it. That means this time you’d be considered a first time offender in adult court. Diversion may be available to you which means more community service hours, restitution, counseling or a class. Think twice before breaking the law again. You don’t want to be separated from your baby. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Chrsitine
      Fri, 02 Jul 2010 at 12:19

      hi, i already commented on this before but i still have a few questions left to ask.
      i’ve been reading online other incidents simlar to mine and some lawyers that replied back told them not to pay because these stores are just looking to get money out of me, and that if i dont pay they will go away and not sue me, as they will lose more money than gained in a court battle.

      I also mentioned that i gave them a wrong address, should i go and correct it? or just leave it, as i have not decided if i want to pay or not. And because i gave them a wrong address, the ticket may not even come ot me? can i be charged or sued for giving wrong information?

      i mean i gave the chocolate bar back, and the questioning took less than 20 minuites and the loss prevention officers are paid through their hourly wage, so technically sears did not loose any money over this. So why did they make me sign a paper saying they will make me pay a payment?
      how much do you think the payment may come out to for a $3 chocolate bar?
      Dear Christine: You may not hear anything from the store. If you do, laws authorize stores to impose a fine in shoplifting cases. Many stores choose that route to close the case over pressing charges and going to court. It’s your decision whether to pay the fine or not. We cannot tell you what to do other than what’s right.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • anonymous
      Fri, 02 Jul 2010 at 08:01

      me and my friend were caught shoplifting at kohls the other day. we are 16. i attempted to steal one shirt worth $30 and my friend attempted to steal $140 worth of merchandise… what will happen? will i definately go to court?
      Dear Anon: If this is your first offense you can expect to be offered a diversion program if such is available in your area. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed. You could also be placed on probation for a short period with similar terms. If that happens, once you complete all probation terms you can apply for your record with the court to be cleared. Good luck.
      {This is information only – not legal advice].

    • MOM
      Sun, 04 Jul 2010 at 12:14

      I brought some stuffs into the store for a return at JC, but some I have receipts and some I don’t.(I don’t have some receipt because I loss it or thrown it away before hand. But I don’t want to return in for a refund or exchange yet because I am lazy to wait in line, so I took the stuff with me in the bag and wheel in throughout the store and I bought some more stuffs and ready to ring it at the register and I was stop by the store boss who told me to enter into a room. Room had 2 police officers. They check my stuff and they did find some with receipts like I said and some without receipt because I explain that I want to only exchange those without receipt(sometimes I lost my receipt or mistakenly thrown some way in the home for couple of weeks ago), but those with receipt-I want a refund. The boss of the store try to force me to admit that I shoplift the items that I didn’t have the receipt for. But I reply, no I didn’t shoplift anything. The police later wrote down my name, social security, address, and telephone number. For several hours, I explain the same thing again and again, the boss still try to force me to admit again ….How can I admit something that I didn’t do?, I repeatedly say over and over again. After several hours, of debating with them that I can’t admit to something that I didn’t do, they release me and said I was free to go and had me sign a trespass for the store. I cannot step foot into the store property anymore or I would be jail. I signed the paper and left like they told, but I’m still not wrong, why did they force me to sign it? I’m afraid that if I didn’t sign, they wouldn’t let me leave, so I was scared.They didn’t say anything else to me and just asked me to leave right away, but they did kept some of my clothes that I didn’t have the receipts for. They said I have to leave now or they would take me to jail. Should this be the end or Should I be expecting something else from them in the mail?
      Dear Mom: This may be the end of the incident. You could receive a letter in the mail from the store requiring payment of a fine, but since you didn’t admit anything and if they have no eyewitnesses or tape of you doing anything wrong, you’re not likely to be charged with shoplifting. Good luck.
      [This is informatioon only - not legal advice].

    • Johnson
      Tue, 06 Jul 2010 at 09:33

      Hi,
      My friend and I were shopping at a grocery store and bought a few things (hairdye, potato chips, soft drinks, etc). I didn’t have enough money to buy batteries so I shoved them into the hairdye box that I was going to purchase. At the checkout I was approached by LP and was told to pay for the batteries. I paid for the batteries and walked out and drove home. Now I am paranoid that the police will come knocking at my door issuing a fine of some sort (because I drove home perhaps they caught my number plate) although no details were exchanged. Although I’m well off financially, I found it ridiculous to be paying that much for batteries BUT I’m never going to do something like that again!! What now? I was wondering whether you can get tracked down by the cameras in the store. Please help!
      Dear Johnson: As you know, anything is possible. The store or police if they were called could check the store’s video, your license if someone wrote it down or through your credit/debit card payment. You coulkd receive a notice in the mail to pay a fine to the store or a date to appear in court. These are all possibilities, none of which are likely to happen. You probably got lucky this time and won’t hear anything else about this. Think twice before shoplifting again.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Johnson
      Tue, 06 Jul 2010 at 10:03

      Johnson here again.
      Also, since I didn’t have enough money for the batteries I paid via EFTPOS on the whole transaction, can they search up my details and hunt me down? I paid for it all though!
      Kind Regards,
      Johnson
      See answer to your first question.

    • alyson
      Tue, 06 Jul 2010 at 10:24

      im 18 years old and i live in new jersey, im freaking out. i got caught stealing at kohls a week ago, i took $200 worth of stuff. i got arrested and my court date was july 19th but i just got a letter saying they moved it to august 2nd. im leaving for college in august, will the police notify my school about this? what are the chances my acceptance will be rescinded? also, will i serve jail time? the laws in my state say for $200-$500 is a fourth degree offense with a maximum of 6 months in prison and $1000 fines. im hoping it will get dropped to disorderly persons. what happens now? will this stay on my record forever?
      Dear Alyson: It’s not likely the school will find out about this from either the police or the court. If this is your first offense, jail time is a remote possibility but not likely to happen. You’ll probably be offered a diversion program where you’ll be required to complete more community service work, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling. Once you comply with the court’s orders the case will be closed. You won’t have a permanent record. After a period of time you can apply to the court for an expungement of your record – usually a year or two. Ask about this when you go to court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • alyson
      Tue, 06 Jul 2010 at 10:26

      also, this was my first offense. im a good kid, i have over 200 hours of community service and had a 4.0 gpa. does any of that matter?
      Dear Alyson: Yes, everything you’ve stated here can make a difference once you appear in court. Share this with the judge if you get the chance. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Fong Lee
      Tue, 06 Jul 2010 at 03:15

      Where can I get a free criminal background check? I’ve been looking for a job for quite sometime now and finaly get a break, but turns out I didn’t pass the background check.
      Dear Fong: Go online and check “background checks” on Google where there will be plenty of sites. You could also call your local juvenile or adult court, depending on your age, and ask for information about this. You could also ask the employer who ran a check on you about what appeared on your record. He or she may tell you so you have as much information as possible. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Fong Lee
      Tue, 06 Jul 2010 at 03:27

      I forgot to add “if you get cought stealing after the age of 21 and it turns out to be a petty misdameanor will it be on your record permanently?”
      Dear Fong: Depending on the class of misdemeanor and your state laws, it can probably be removed from your record after a period of time. Google the crime you were charged with [theft, shoplifting, larceny, etc.] and the words “expunging criminal records” along with the name of your state for more information on how to clean up your record. You could also call the court and get this information – maybe online as well, by going to the court’s website. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • alyson
      Tue, 06 Jul 2010 at 07:51

      THANK YOUU so mucchhhh that made me feel better
      You’re welcome.

    • alyson
      Tue, 06 Jul 2010 at 07:58

      hi again, my mom just flipped out for mentioning my school name on here is there any way you could delete my comment or block out the name?
      Done – we deleted the name of the school.

    • Jake
      Wed, 07 Jul 2010 at 12:56

      hey, it’s jake
      i commented on this before. im still so nerveouse :(
      the ticket that i have says class c misdemeanor and i remember the police officer saying that its like a traffic ticket!???
      Dear Jake: Traffic tickets in some jurisdictions can include low misdemeanors. That is likely what happened in your case. Either way, relax. Your options will be explained to you and then you can decide what you want to do. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • anonymous
      Wed, 07 Jul 2010 at 12:18

      im applying for a job. over six months have passed and i stayed out of trouble. which means my probation has passed. however i have not received anything in the mail yet. Is my record automatically closed now, or is it only valid once I get my paperwork in the mail?
      Dear Anonymous: If you have successfully completed your probation you may be eligible to apply for a clear record. That depends on a number of things. First, the laws in your state, and the practice of your local court. Call your probation officer or the court and ask about the process to obtain an expungement of your record. There may even be a form you can file online. Check the court’s website under Forms or Self-Help. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Anna
      Sun, 11 Jul 2010 at 10:37

      I’m 18 years old and last night i was out shopping with my freinds in H&M.. We instantly ran out of money and so, we decided to steal clothes for “fun”(it was my first time). It was really stupid i know, and i didnt think it would be a big deal at the time.

      Anyway, when we got in the fitting room, my bag was the biggest so they stashed all the clothes in MY bag.. As i left the store, i thought i had gotten away with it but then a security guard ran after me and took me back to the storage room at the back of H&M.. They emptied my bag and found the clothes there (worth 80$) i didnt want to get my friends involved to so i told him it was all me and they had nothing to do with it.

      The man took my ID and got it photocopied, and then gave it back, took my fingerprint on this paper that had my name and date and time, and then he made me pay for the clothes i stole (80$) without even taking them.

      He then let me go and told me he didnt want to cause me trouble because i look like a “decent” girl, but that i was banned from the store for life.. and that my ID was for the salespeople to see so i couldnt enter the store ever again..

      I just wanted to know, although he didnt call the police or anything and he let me go, but will him photocopying my ID and taking my fingerprint do me any harm? as in will be put into my record even though no police was called and i wasnt harmed in any way? i freaked out when he took my fingerprint, i felt like a criminal

      I have been freaking out and cant sleep ever since this incident, and i cant talk to anyone about it because im so ashamed.

      please i need to know if this will do me harm or if they were just trying to scare me off so i wouldnt do it again
      Dear Anna: You got lucky this time since the police weren’t called and you don’t have to go to court. Based on this one incident, you don’t have a record that would affect any future plans for school, employment, etc. The only record is with the store for their purposes. The police may also keep a note of this in the event you do it again. Don’t return to the store unless the ban is lifted. Otherwise you could be charged with trespass. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Lauren
      Mon, 12 Jul 2010 at 02:22

      I was 17 and got caught shoplifting with my friend at Target about a month ago. They took my driver’s license and called my parents. Since my parents weren’t available, and since my friend drove us to Target, they let me leave and go home with her. The police weren’t involved and they didn’t make me sign any papers or anything. I got a letter in the mail a couple of days ago asking for a civil demand of $295. What happens if I don’t pay it? Seeing as how legally, they weren’t supposed to release me without my parent’s knowing about it and they didn’t have me sign any papers, what could they do? By the way, I just turned 18 if that makes any difference.
      Dear Lauren: Stores in many states are authorized under law to impose a fine [civil demand] on shoplifters. If the fine isn’t paid they could refer the matter to the police and press charges. Whether you signed any papers or not may not make a difference. If they can prove that you committed the shoplift, through an eyewitness or videotape, you could be charged. As an adult you face getting a record if you go to court. If you pay the fine, there’s no official criminal record and you haven’t been convicted of anything. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • d
      Mon, 12 Jul 2010 at 03:38

      okay so i am 18 yrs old i got caught stealing once when i was 16 i have been stealing again and there a police or police station that has been calling myy house what is going to happen to me or whats is going on?
      Dear D: We think you can answer your question best. You say you’re “stealing again” which may be why the police want to talk with you. It’s possible that you’ve been identified by an eyewitness or video camera. If you are charged with theft you’ll receive instructions on what happens next. Usually you’ll have to appear in court where the charges will be explained and you’ll have an opportunity to speak. An attorney may be appointed to represent you if you can’t afford one. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Adie
      Tue, 13 Jul 2010 at 10:50

      I am 18 years old, and yesterday I was caught shoplifting from TJ MAXX. I had attempted to steal a $19.99 dress, as i was walking out, a store employee said “I just need the merchandise returned”. I took out the dress and handed it to her, about to walk away, another man told me i had to come back with them.
      they took down all my information, then the employee said she “had to call her boss to see what she should do about this”, and after a laughing phone call between them, she told me she was calling the police to pick me up.
      Literally shaking with fear and humiliation, i was walked out of the store in handcuffs, put in the back of the police car, and drove to the station where my fingerprints were taken. I did not have to sign anything at the police station, get put in a cell, or have to post bail. After my fingerprints were taken the Officer told me to call for a ride, because he was “kicking me out of his front door, unless i wanted i ride home” which i did not.
      I was handed a ticket, saying i had to call in within 14 days and set a court date.
      I have no idea what to expect, I had nothing on my record before this, and I am beyond terrified.
      Could you please just let me know what to expect?
      Fines? Probation? Community Service?
      I have never even been in a courtroom before, words cannot describe my fear.

      please help, I live in Michigan
      Dear Adie: Since this is your first offense you may be offered diversion. That is a program where you complete some community service hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling [all depending on the judge] in return for a closed case. The process will be explained to you when you go to court. You can also plead not guilty and the case will be set for trial. It’s your decision. You may have a chance to speak with a lawyer at court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jaime
      Tue, 13 Jul 2010 at 11:14

      Dear Judge,
      so thank you so much for your help and im doing quite well. so its been months and i’ve paid my civil demand and doing a program. But i recently recieved another letter from the lawyer of the store and it says. ” In consideration of the payment of …, the payment of which does not constitute an admission of liability, …… hereby releases (name) from all additional civil damages arising out of an incident in (store). apart from any claims for restitution if the store failed to fully recover its property or its merchandise in merchantable condition.”
      Im sorry but can you please explain What this means??
      Dear Jaime: Assuming the gaps left in your question quoting the letter were filled in with your information, then this appears to be a receipt for your payment of the civil demand. It means you’re free from any further liability from the shoplifting except for paying for the item or items if they weren’t returned to the store or were returned and couldn’t be placed back on the shelf for sale because, for example, the package had been opened or the item was damaged. If you have any questions about this, you could contact the lawyer who wrote the letter or the store. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].
      Thanks again.

    • k
      Tue, 13 Jul 2010 at 12:10

      I went to the mall with a friend. I tried taking a small item in a store, but was caught. The worker just said, “Can you return the item to its place?” I handed it to him. He said nothing else. My friend and I looked in the store for a few minutes, then left.

      After we left I looked back and saw him dialing a phone #. I’m paranoid that he was calling mall security/the police. Is this possible? He didn’t ask me ANY information, no name/address/ss #/id.

      After that we left the mall to my car. No one followed us, and I really didn’t notice anyone taking my license plate #, but this is the part I feel most paranoid about. Is it possible he could have been calling security & they can review tapes and see my license plate # when I’m leaving? Like I said, NO one was watching as we left, in fact when we were leaving police were outside dealing with some handcuffed person and didn’t even glance at us. Also, even if my license plate # was captured, how can they be sure it wasn’t my friends car? Also, not sure if this matters, but my car was in a parking lot far away from the original store.

      I’m just really paranoid, this happened 2 days ago, and I’m scared about getting that letter in the mail, but I’m just wondering if this is possible because they have none of my information. But, I do know the store had one camera, I’m unsure whether cameras were in the parking lot. Also, this is my first time trying to shoplift.

      I didn’t purchase anything at the mall, so they have no debit/credit card details. If the worker didn’t ask for any information, would he really go through the trouble to have security find me? And why wouldn’t he just take me in the back of his store and make me wait for security, rather than have them track me down in the mall somewhere? There was no one in the store besides me, my friend, and him, so I don’t see it as “he didn’t want to cause a scene” by asking for my info, because he easily could of. Also, it is possible that I’m just paranoid, and he was calling someone else/or the phone rang. Thanks.
      Dear K: Since neither the police or the store have any information about you, there’s little possibility that you’ll hear anything further about this incident. If somehow the store is able to trace your address you may receive a “civil demand” letter in the mail requiring payment of a fine. Pay it on time and the case will be closed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • k
      Tue, 13 Jul 2010 at 03:22

      Hi, I asked the last question, thank you very much for answering. I’m curious as to how long the letter would take to come if I’m even sent one? And also, how would they be able to trace my address..would it be through my license plate # if they somehow got that?
      Dear K: Yes, it could be through your license plate if they have it. The letter could take a few eeks or even a month or two to get. It depends on the size of your town and how busy the store is. The incident may have to go to corporate headquarters wherever that is and then the letter may be sent out. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jaime
      Tue, 13 Jul 2010 at 03:32

      o ok thanks. But what if I have returned everything to them in merchandable condition?
      Dear Jaime: If that’s the case then you won’t owe any restitution for the merchandise.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Adie
      Wed, 14 Jul 2010 at 12:33

      I have written an apology letter to TJ MAXX, but should i go there and deliver it? or would it be better if i stayed clear of the store completely??

      Also, I am a foster “parent” for Michigan Humane Society animals, so i am literally doing 24 hour community service every day from my home.

      would/could any of this work to help me avoid a harsher punishment?
      if not, is there anything I can do??
      Dear Adie: If you were told by the store not to return, it’s not advisable that you do. Just mail your letter to them addressed to Loss Prevention. As far as community service, the rationale behind it is for you to do something for the community in addition to your regular routine. It’s doubtful that the court would accept your hours at home since you already do it. There would be no lesson learned in getting extra credit for the same work. But you can always ask. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Laura
      Wed, 14 Jul 2010 at 04:13

      Hi,

      A month ago I was caught shoplifting $110.91 worth of items from a CVS in Massachusetts. I am a 24-year-old out of state resident and this is my first offense.

      The LP officer took down my information, took a picture and the police were called. They also took down my information and looked up my records from my home state (clean). After some deliberation, the store told me I was not allowed to return for three years and I was allowed to leave.

      Last week, I received a civil demand for $375 which is to be paid within 25 days. If I pay this, will there be a separate follow up from the police? I did not receive a ticket or court date the day I was caught.

      Thank you so much – this site has been a great resource for me through this situation. I have certainly learned my lesson.

      Word to the wise for others – though it may be tempting, stealing is NOT worth it! It is not only an immoral thing to do, but it affects other individuals indirectly, through increased cost of products, etc. Get a job and pay for your items.
      Dear Laura: First, thank you for your words of advice to others. We’re glad you’ve learned from this experience. And we’re happy that you found Askthejudge helpful.
      Since you haven’t heard from the police or a court regarding further action on the shoplifting, it may be a closed case once the civil demand is paid. That is usually what happens.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Katy
      Wed, 14 Jul 2010 at 05:28

      I’m 18 and about a month ago I was caught shoplifting two bras from Macys which valued at $66.00,I was going through a rough time and I made a stupid first mistake which I am very sorry for and I’m trying to do what i can to make it up.They took me into the security office took my info i signed a no trespassing paper and then a police officer gave me a paper with my court date on it,I did pay back the civil demand fee to the store Im not sure if that will help me at all in court,anyways this is my first time ever getting into any kind of trouble and I cannot afford a lawyer my court date is coming up soon and I’m very nervous,can anyone tell me what i should do? or what is most likely to happen? and does the judge decide on deferred adjudication? or who do i ask abt that? I really don’t want this to stay on my record forever I live in Florida if that helps,my plan so far is to just go to court and be honest and hope for the best will i be ok without a lawyer?
      Dear Katy: When you go to court the process will be explained to you by a court officer or possibly an attorney. It is your decision whether you want an attorney to represent you and you will have the opportunity to discuss this. In many cases of this kind, lawyers aren’t needed unless you plan to plead not guilty and proceed to trial. Then it would be advisable to have a lawyer.
      Since this is your first offense you may be offered deferred prosecution or what is called diversion. That means when you complete some community service hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling the case will be closed. You won’t have a record because you were “diverted” away from the criminal justice system by complying with the terms of diversion. Even if in your jurisdiction you end up with a record with the court or law enforcement, you can apply to have it expunged after a certain period of time. Ask about that when you’re in court. You can also let the judge know that you paid the civil demand from the store. It could only help. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Katy
      Wed, 14 Jul 2010 at 07:30

      Thank you very much for your information I really appreciate it I have been worrying abt this everyday since it happened. So everything should be taken care of on that court date? and i’ve heard from alot of people that jail time is very unlikely is this true? Oh and i forgot to ask I’m starting college next month will this affect me from getting a grant or other financial aid?
      Dear Katy: That’s correct. Although there are no guaranties, you’re not likely to be jailed. Nor should this incident prevent you from pursuing your education or opportunites for a grant, financial aid, etc. Good luck with your studies.
      [This is informattion only - not legal advice].

    • Brad
      Wed, 14 Jul 2010 at 11:53

      my friends ran into a grocery store and grabbed a couple bottles of liquor. They got into my car and I drove off. As I was driving away, it is likely that a bystander wrote down my license plate number down the road a little from the store. If the man were to give this information to the store, would they consider it to be credible if it wasn’t an actual employee who saw the license plate? I hate myself for letting this happen. I was pressured into being the getaway vehicle, knowing it was a terrible idea. It was stupid and it wasn’t me. I’m no theft, seeing as what I did was just as bad as stealing. I feel regretful, and I guess it was a lesson that needed to be learned. I just feel paranoid now that they might track me down. I told my friends we should return it, but they are afraid the store might detain us. Any advice or reassuring words? Thank you
      Dear Brad: It is possible that the police may trace the license number, if it was reported to them, and attempt to identify you and your friends. That may depend on whether the store wants to press charges. A case could be made if the store employee and the witness down the street can identify your friends and you as the driver of the getaway car. You’re equally responsible for the theft as an accomplice even though you didn’t enter the store. That being said, it’s also possible that you won’t hear anything about this. You may have gotten lucky this time. As you said, a lesson learned. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Ana
      Thu, 15 Jul 2010 at 09:08

      Ok im 17 living in S.A Tx and i was caught shoplifting and the maneger press charges on me so ill b attending court next month, my question is what will be my punishment and how will this affect my future?
      Dear Ana: If this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service hourrs, pay a fine or restitution, attend a class or counseling the case will be closed. It shouldn’t affect your future unless you repeat this behavior and end up with an adult record. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jay
      Fri, 16 Jul 2010 at 05:20

      I was caught shoplifting 78 dolalrs worth of clothes yesterday in Virginia. I am 18 years old. I have a court date coming up and I’ve never been through anything like this before. Will I get sent to jail? Will there be a large fine over 200 dollars? Do I need an atorney or may I just plea guilty? I am very very scared.
      Dear Jay: It’s not likely that you’ll go to jail. Since this is your first offense you may be offered deferred prosecution or what’s called “diversion.” That means when you complete some community service hours, pay a fine or restitution to the store, attend counseling or a class the case will be closed. After a period of time, a year or so, you can apply to the court for an expungement of your record. The process will be explained to you when you go to court. You may not need a lawyer if you’re planning to plead guilty, but that’s your decision. Think twice before shoplifting again, especially now that you’re an adult. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jorge
      Fri, 16 Jul 2010 at 10:10

      Dear Judge,

      I am 19 and was caught shoplifting a $34 item from a Walmart in Miami, Florida. It was my first time (I have no criminal record) and will be my last. I was not arrested but the officers –very pleasant and fun guys from my experience with them– wrote me up and told me I will be getting a court date within 3-4 weeks via mail.
      My questions are the following: What are possible charges I will face in a Florida court?
      If I get the charges expunged, does this mean my record will be clean as if the crime had never been committed?
      If the case is expunged, will I still need to report it under any job applications?
      I will be applying to transfer to a different (probably ivy league) colleges, will I have to report this assuming it is expunged?
      How will this affect me in the future?

      I appreciate what you do and for your time.
      Dear Jorge: When you go to court, the process will be explained to you. Since this is your first offense you’re likely to be offered deferred prosecution or what is called “diversion.” That means when you complete some community service hours, pay a fine or restitution to the store, attend a class or counseling the case will be closed. You may not have a “record” from this incident if diversion is available and you’re not convicted of the crime of shoplifting. This shouldn’t affect future school or job opportunities, only if you continue to steal. Read all questions on applications carefully and answer truthfully. Don’t miss your court date. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Stephanie
      Sat, 17 Jul 2010 at 01:38

      I was caught stealing sum stuff from work.. we hada meeting and I have to pay a fine adn some other stuff … but I havent been able to get back to teh people and was wondering what can happen if I go to court ?? I’m 17 and this is my first time ..
      Dear Stephanie: If you’ve been given a court date make sure you don’t miss it. The process will be explained to you by a court or probation officer. You may be offered diversion which means when you complete some community service, pay restitution to your employer, attend a class or counseling the case will be closed. After a period of time you can apply to have your record expunged – ask about that when you’re at court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • yesenia
      Sun, 18 Jul 2010 at 11:47

      hey so i got caught shoplifting the worst part was it was my job… they only caught me threw returning it for vouchers and they said i have to pay a fine of $1,880
      thats supposedly how much everything was worth.. do you think that if i get a lawyer it may help fight to lower the fine? or what happens if i dont pay the fine.?
      Dear Yesenia: If you don’t pay the fine the store may choose to press charges against you. You can talk with a lawyer in your area about your options. He or she may provide you with a free consultation about your case and then you can decide how you want to handle this. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • delmar
      Mon, 19 Jul 2010 at 12:41

      i stole sumthing from my local walgreens store worth about 30 dollars now they want me to pay them over 200 dollars thats just rediculous and i didnt even get to keep what i attemted to steal. anyways im refusing to pay it, but if they do decide to press charges for something rediculous will the cops send me a letter to go to court or will i get an arrest warrant? is rediculous how these big rich corps try to steal more money from us than wat we try to steal from them.
      Dear Delmar: You may not agree with the fine but stores are authorized by law to impose a fine on shoplifters. The amount of the fine depends on your state laws. If you don’t pay, as you said, they can press charges against you and you may end up paying the same fine, completing community service, etc. It’s unlikely that a warrant will be issued for your arrest unless you miss your court date. You should receive notice in the mail. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kiley
      Mon, 19 Jul 2010 at 04:48

      i am 18 years old and i recently just got caught at Macys shoplifting $70 worth of items. I did not get arrested but i did get sent to a back room with all my information was told that i was baned from all Macys stores for 3 years and had to pay $400 to Macys an officer came and gave me a ticket as well for a court date. Will this stay on my record? and if i ever apply at a retail store for a job will they look for a shoplifting background?
      Dear Kiley: The process will be explained to you when you go to court. If you’re given the chance to complete a diversion program and you do so, there won’t be a record to worry about. Otherwise, if this incident results in an adult record, after a period of time you can apply to have it expunged. Ask about this at court. Don’t miss your court date and complete all terms ordered by the court on time. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Michelle
      Mon, 19 Jul 2010 at 05:03

      I am 17 years old, i was accused of shoplifting from a store. I had the merchandise in my bag when i walked into the store however the alarm did not go off, when i left the store the merchandise did go off, it was three shirts totaling $73. When the worker slid each item thru the detectors only 1 rang yet she took all three and took me downstairs where they took down my information and called my mom, i have a paper that says something about civil demand notice, but the worker never said anything about court, or my records or anything. What does this mean, will i get court, will it stay on my record. And since all the merchandise didn’t set off the alarm does that mean that i shouldn’t be charged the complete cost of everything ?
      Dear Michelle: If the police didn’t come and you didn’t receive a ticket or notice to appear in court, then it’s being handled as a civil matter by the store. Once you receive the civil demand letter, pay the fine on time and the case will be closed. You shouldn’t have a record as a result of this except with the store. If you disagree with the amount of the fine because two of the items were yours when you walked in, tell your Mom so she can discuss this with the store. You should be able to reach an agreement, especially if you have a receipt for the items that were already yours. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Michelle
      Mon, 19 Jul 2010 at 05:39

      The thing is i don’t have a receipt for the two items that didn’t beep but if it didn’t set off the alarm they cant be making me pay for it since that would mean they have no proof that i supposedly “stole it”
      how much could the fines go up to if the items totaled at $73 ?
      Dear Michelle: The amount of the fine is set by state law. You could Google your state’s name and “civil demand – shoplifting” for details. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jane
      Tue, 20 Jul 2010 at 09:43

      I got a letter and it says I need to pay $300 dollars. Until when do I pay for it? If I pay it later, will it matter?
      Dear Jane: There should be a “date due” somewhere on the letter you received. If not, it’s safe to assume you have 30 days to pay. If you need more time, send in what you can with a note that the balance will be paid within the next 30-60 days. Don’t ignore the letter unless you want to go to court over the matter. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Damacio
      Tue, 20 Jul 2010 at 07:27

      Hey Tom Im 18 and live in Texas and I was caught shoplifting in Texas March 6 2010 in Wal-Mart it was a video game less than $100 and its my first offense I did have money to pay for it since I was by myself and I started getting a chest pain and I have High Blood Pressure and the lines were full and I needed to got to my moms car and tell her so I was in a hurry for the chest pain so they stopped me on the way out ans I told them the story but didn’t believe me so they called the police and i was taken to PD and was arrested and all of a sudden I fainted and they took me to the hospital from PD and they said I was at a high risk of a heart attack and they let me go then the next day I turned myself in and in like 1 hour I came out with a PR Bond since then I haven’t been in trouble and 1 month later i get a letter saying settlement offer $200.00 and yes I payed in 3 payments then about a week ago I get a letter saying I need to go to court im extremely nervous its my first offense what will happen? Will I go to jail??
      Dear Damacio: You can relax a little. It’s unlikely that you’ll go to jail over this incident. Since you’re 18 and this is a first offense, you’ll probably be offered deferred prosecution or what is called diversion. That means when you finish some community service, pay a fine or restitution to the store, attend a class or counseling the case will be closed. Don’t miss your court date – the process will be explained to you at that time. Let the judge know that you paid the $200 civil demand. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Gina
      Wed, 21 Jul 2010 at 06:07

      Hi my name is Gina and I am 19 and got stealing almost a month ago. I got a letter in the mail to pay $175 civil demand and they said they were pressing charges against me. I stole less than $50 worth. They said it would take two weeks to get everything in the mail but I have not received any court date yet. I wanted to know how long it usually takes to receive it or if maybe they never pressed anything against me? I live in New Jersey. Should I call up somewhere to find out, I am not sure what to do?
      Dear Gina: Once you pay the civil demand the case will probably be closed. They may have used the phrase “press charges” to get you to pay the fine. On the other hand they are still authorized to seek prosecution in which case you’ll receive a notice in the mail regarding a court date. It could take a month or two for the notice to go out. If you get one, don’t miss court – the process will be explained to you once you appear. Good luck.
      [This is information only not legal advice].

    • Jenny
      Sat, 24 Jul 2010 at 01:15

      I am 21 and I got caught stealing in California. I live in Nevada I had to pay a settlement. It was my first offense would it show on my records?
      Dear Jenny: It’s not likely that anything will show on your record except at the store. They may have made a note of the incident in the event you return and shoplift again. Since you didn’t receive a ticket or have to go to court, there’s no official record of this. Good luck.
      [This information only - not legal advice].

    • Xavi
      Mon, 26 Jul 2010 at 09:21

      Hey Tom I was arrested for stealing a laptop from best buy and I was on probation and the laptop was $1,230.00 and going to court this is my 3rd offense what will happen im 19 years old thanks :)
      Dear Xavi: The penalty depends on your state laws, your criminal history, present circumstances [school, work, etc.] and the policies of the court. You may be offered diversion depending on your age when the earlier crimes were committed. You may also be facing some time in jail, probation with specific terms and random drug testing if there’s a history of drug use. Talk with your lawyer about the possible penalties when deciding how you’re going to plead – guilty, not guilty or no contest. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kristina
      Mon, 26 Jul 2010 at 09:25

      Dear Judge Im 21 and was arrested in Wal-Mart for accidently stealing an Ipod me and my friends broked the glass and took ipods totaled $1300.00 and it was 4am this is my 2nd offense now I have to go to court im so worried what will happen to me :(
      Dear Kristina: Since this is your second offense, you may not be offered deferred prosecution. When you go to court, you’ll meet with a court officer or attorney. The process will be explained to you. You can either admit the crime, plead not guilty or no contest. Possible penalties include probation, community service, restitution to the store, a fine, and counseling. The court will decide what consequence is best under the circumstances and your criminal history. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jenna
      Wed, 28 Jul 2010 at 12:07

      Dear Judge Tom,
      I’m 15 and I live in the state of Michigan. I was recently caught stealing 2 items (total of $18.00), at a claires store. They prosecute every shoplifter no matter the amount of items or dollar value. I have never done this before, and it was so stupid in the first place. I will never do it again, ever! but, I have never been in trouble with the law; ever. We got a letter for restitution of $180.00; But that was just so they couldn’t sue civily? (I really don’t understand) and it doesn’t handle the criminal part of the whole situation. I still have to go to court. My mother is going to pay the restitution next week. – how long will it take to know what is going on from there on out? I over heard some siblings talking about 1st degree; 2nd, etc. I’ve tried to google it for the laws on what is considered 1st, 2nd and such in my state of michigan, but I am unable to find anything. I really don’t know the difference either! I was hoping for some help! I am really scared; confused as to what is going on, and I would rather not ask my parents; I am really ashamed of what I’ve done.

      addition details;
      I was informed that I will have to pay court fee’s by my parents and the letter we recieved about restitution also said that claries is entitled to 10x the dollar value of the items stolen. no less than $50, and no more than $200.
      - I am once again, scared and confused! please, please help! thank you, so much.
      Dear Jenna: You’re right about the civil penalty from the store being separate from the criminal action against you. Once you pay the $180 to the store, their case will be closed. Then when you go to court on the shoplifting charge, the process will be explained to you. Since this is your first offense, you’ll likely be offered what is called “deferred prosecution” or “diversion.” That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine to the court, attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed. You won’t have an official record that will affect future education or employment pursuits. If the store told you to not return, don’t. Otherwise they can charge you with trespassing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jaime
      Wed, 28 Jul 2010 at 04:12

      I was caught shoplifting 5 months ago a $60 item at Wal-Mart and now have to go to court tomorrow and this is my first offense I live in Texas and im 18 I spoke to the judge earlier and told him what is the best thing to do and he was nice and told me not to say not guilty even though I did it what should I do thanks!! :D
      Dear Jaime: When you appear in court, the process will be explained to you. You have a choice of pleading guilty, not guilty or no contest. “No contest” means you’re not contesting the evidence the state would present to the court to prove your guilt. It’s treated the same as a guilty plea. You may have a chance to talk with a lawyer who can advise you. Tell the truth at all times. Since this is your first offense you may be offered deferred prosecution. That means when you finish some community service, pay a fine or restitution, attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed. After a period of time, possibly a year or so, you can apply to the court for an expungement of your record. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jamie
      Wed, 28 Jul 2010 at 09:20

      Dear Judge,
      This is a different Jamie than the Jamie above. Ive asked several questions before and am very grateful of your help. I have another question, I am currently 16 and my case has not closed i dont think but the charges were dropped and I am now on diversion. I have to complete a program in order to have my case closed i think. But i am going to china this summer. Am i allowed to travel before my case is closed? I have another court in september, but my lawyer will go on my behave. Thanks again
      Dear Jamie: You should ask your lawyer about leaving the court’s jurisdiction before you complete the diversion program. Most likely it’s ok unless the judge told you not to leave. So ask your lawyer and/or your probation officer – whoever is assigned to supervise your diversion. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jenna
      Thu, 29 Jul 2010 at 03:01

      Hello, Jenna here again. I have a few more questions to ask. First off, thank you so much for the information you’ve given me.

      but, what if I don’t get offered “deferred prosecution” or “diversion.” ?? What might happen then?
      and also, my parents seem to think I will get slamed hard for what I’ve done, and that I’ll get a lot of probation. I’m not sure they’ve herd of diversion. Should I tell them about this newly gained information?
      Should I ask, when in court, about diversion?
      THANK YOU.
      Dear Jenna: If diversion isn’t available then you can either admit the shoplifting [plead guilty] or deny it [plead not guilty]. If you admit it then the judge will impose consequences that may include a period of probation – generally not more than a year. If you deny it then a trial will be set. If you’re found guilty then the penalty may be the same, probation with specific terms [work hours, a fine, counseling, etc.]. Discuss all of this with your parents since you’re a minor and want to rebuild their trust in you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Christina
      Thu, 29 Jul 2010 at 11:39

      Dear Judge Tom,

      A friend and I were at Pathmark (in New Jersey) a few days ago and we shoplifted a bunch of makeup. We were caught just as we were about to leave the store, and we were taken into the back room and the security manager (I believe thats who she was)took down our information like our address, telephone number, and the IDs of whomever came to pick us up. When we asked if there would be any consequences that would follow up with this, she simply replied, “WELL, You girls should have thought of that BEFORE shoplifting!” Simply enough, she was very distraught at us and mean. We are both minors, have straight A’s and B’s, we are more or less at the top of our classes, and this scared us straight. I have been crying myself to sleep every day since the incident, and I’ve lost a lot of weight because I can’t bring myself to eat. Both of us are scared out of our wits in case a Court Date comes. We would rather have a giant fee to pay than have a court date. The thought shakes us to our very cores. After she took down my friend’s information, she told her father that “since they are minors, we cannot press charges” and I vaguely remember that she might have said that nothing will go onto our records. We are thankful for that. But we are still greatly, insurmountably worried about that court date. The amount that we TOTALED in the shoplifted goods were around 190$ (she insisted it was 200 until we glanced at the receipt she waved around, and then she finally corrected herself that it was indeed 190) we were so shocked that it had totaled up to that much. And, a few days ago, after consulting a few of our friends, we decided that we would call the Pathmark, and ask if we could speak with their manager. And then we would proceed to the pathmark (with her father as a guardian, since we are further no longer allowed in any pathmark branches by ourselves) and tell them how truly sorry we are, from the bottom of our hearts. And that we would not care if there would be a fine, but just as long as we can somehow not have a court date, or anything that would involve the law, it would be greatly helpful and appreciated. We do not know if it will help us, but we just could not wait around crying the whole day while we waited for such things to happen. I would appreciate it if you can tell us what the possibilities are of us receiving such Court Date after these said actions are taken? Do you think it will help our chances of not receiving the letter? Thank you so much in advance.
      Dear Christina: If the police didn’t appear at the scene and you didn’t get a ticket or a notice to appear in court, then it’s unlikely that formal charges will be filed. You may receive a letter from the store requiring payment of what is called a “civil demand.” This is a fine that stores are authorized to collect in shoplifting cases. Pay it on time and the case will be closed. Don’t return to the store without a parent or guardian or you could be charged with trespass. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jen
      Thu, 29 Jul 2010 at 03:01

      I’m 18 and got caught shoplifting in virginia. I am scared because everyone ive asked says that virginia is really harsh in court. This is my first offence, and i plan on representing myself and pleading guilty. I didnt steal over 200 dollars and they said if i had stolen that much, i would have gone straight to jail. I had a minor with me who also stole, but they said they were going to drop the Accomplice to a minor charges. Will her name come up in court? Or is it going to only be about me in my case? The ticket I was issued just says “Shoplifting” as the offence. If they bring the minor issue up, or anything else, do I ask for a continuency as this would be new evidence they want to lay on me? Is there any way i can just pay a fine and NOT do comm. service as it will definatly affect my job hours? Thank you.
      Dear Jen: When you go to court the process will be explained to you by a court or probation officer. You may be offered diversion which means when you complete community service, pay a fine or restitution, complete a class or counseling the case will be closed. You can explain to the judge that you’d prefer a fine to work hours. The issue regarding the minor who was with you may or may not come up. Usually the court only needs to know about your participation and responsibility in the incident. Just tell the truth and if you’re not comfortable answering a question, explain why. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jenna
      Fri, 30 Jul 2010 at 11:11

      I am a 19 yo full-time college student who was caught shoplifting (first offense, no prior record) about $100 worth of items from Walmart. Police were called and I was given a citation (not taken to a station or fingerprinted) to appear in municipal court. My court date is set for a time after I leave for college out of state. Am I required to appear at court (I’ll have to request continuance) or could I simply pay the fine? Do I qualify for a pretrial diversion program? What are the circumstances for having the case expunged? I have consulted a lawyer who recommended I not pay the settlement that Walmart will send in the mail. Is this the right choice? I am absolutely terrified and have no idea what to do. Could anyone provide a step-by-step plan of action to get through the consequences of my idiocy?
      Dear Jenna: Since this is your first offense the possibility of diversion is good. When you go to court the process will be explained to you. If you admit the shoplift and complete the terms of diversion, the case will be closed. You shouldn’t have a record to worry about – that’s the purpose of diversion. If diversion isn’t available where you live, after you comply with the court’s sentence you can apply for expungement of your record. You may have to wait a year or so depending on the laws in your state. Regarding the store’s civil demand [their fine], that’s your decision whether to pay it or not. You might ask the lawyer you consulted with about the consequences of not paying it. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jamie
      Fri, 30 Jul 2010 at 01:39

      thanks again judge!

    • nikki
      Mon, 02 Aug 2010 at 08:35

      hey my name is nikki and i got caught shopliftin at a clothing store but since i wuz pregnant an havin contractions they took me to the hospital but they never arrested me what do you think will happen to me others say that they will put a warrent out on me? i need some answers
      Dear Nikki: If the store or police don’t have any identifying information on you, it’s unlikely you’ll hear anything further about the shoplifting. Otherwise you could receive a notice in the mail to appear in court or a request from the store to pay a civil fine. You may not receive either for a month or two. It’s unlikely that a warrant would be issued for your arrest. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Hillary
      Mon, 02 Aug 2010 at 08:37

      I’m 15 almost 16. I had to go to juvelile court once before, a little over a year ago, for commiting a felony, but they dropped it because they could clearly see it was a slip up. Now I have to go back for helping my boyfriend shoplift 50$ from a JC Pennies on Oklahoma. I never touched the merchandise and nothing was for me. I have never shoplifted before and I’m sure he hasn’t. My boyfriend had to go to court for egging his coaches car a year ago and again, for wrecking during the oklahoma ice storm. My boyfriend turned 18 esrlier this year, so we go to different courts and have different times. We got our tickets and court dates in the store. If we have to pay a certain amount of money we’re more then willing to do it to make this easier on everyone.
      What should we expect from the different courts?
      What could be the penalties for each of us?
      What could I do to help my former situation and going back? (I’m sure my parents won’t hire a lawyer)
      How will this affect our future independently?
      What could we do to help our overall situations?
      Should we expect anything outrageous?

      If there is anything more me or my boyfriend should know please inform me.
      Dear Hillary: Let’s take your questions one at a time. Since you’re a first offender and appearing in juvenile court, you can expect what is called deferred prosecution or diversion. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling the case will be closed. This one incident shouldn’t affect your future plans for school, work or military service. Neither of you should expect anything “outrageous” as you say. However, your boyfriend may be facing a harsher consequence because of his record and because he’s an adult. The judge may feel that some jail time may be appropriate. He could also be placed on probation with specific terms to follow. Both of you should appear at your hearings on time, dress appropriately [no gum, etc] and tell the truth. You may have a chance to speak with a court officer before the hearing who will explain the process to you. Your boyfriend may end up with a record that, after a period of time, he may be eligible to apply for expungement. He can ask about this when he’s in court. Good luck to you both. Hopefully this is your final brush with the law. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Haley
      Tue, 03 Aug 2010 at 11:42

      I have a question. I made a huge mistake and got caught shoplifting. The amount was $37. It is my first offense. My first ticket was a traffic violation. Is there any way that I can get my shoplifting ticket dropped to only a fine and no community service?
      Dear Haley: It’s possible but it’s up to the judge you appear before. You can explain to the court officer and/or the judge why you’d prefer no community service and see what happens. You’d have to have a pretty good reason for the judge to waive it. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jocelyn
      Tue, 03 Aug 2010 at 07:27

      I got caught shoplifting Now i got
      court this friday i got a call from a probation
      office but i dont want to get probation all i want is
      to be charged for what i did. Ive learned my leason&iwill
      never do it again. What do i do? if i got to court will i still
      get probation? This is my first time ever stealing&getting
      caught.
      Dear Jocelyn: Just because you received a call from probation doesn’t mean you’ll be placed on probation by the court. Don’t miss your hearing date or a warrant for your arrest could be issued. If this is your first offense, you may be given deferred prosecution or diversion. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jorge
      Wed, 04 Aug 2010 at 04:10

      Dear Judge,
      I recently asked you about the consequences from my shoplifting a $34 item within Walmart.

      My question now relates to a letter I’ve received in the mail. Its is a settlement offer from a law-firm representing Walmart. It says I have to pay $200 withing 20 days of receiving this letter (and addresses to “Florida Statutes Section 772.11″).

      If I pay their settlement, would this mean no further action will be taken? Should I pay this and if I fail to what will be the consequences and the chance they will pursue such actions.

      Also, in the Florida Statutes 772.11, it is said they are to offer me 30 days to pay yet I am only granted 20. Isn’t this conflicting with state law?
      Thank you
      Dear Jorge: Under Florida law the store can fine you up to three times the value of the item(s) taken not to exceed $200 or sue you in civil court. If you go to court, you may also be held responsible for attorney fees and court costs plus the store may collect from your parents if you are a minor. If you pay the $200 the case will be closed. You are correct about the statute giving you 30 days to pay the fine. If you plan to pay the fine, notify the lawyer who wrote to you of your plan and that your interpretation of the law allows 30 days from the day you received his letter. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • James
      Wed, 04 Aug 2010 at 11:50

      Dear Judge,

      I am currently on a year of probation for pleading guilty to shoplifting of under $10, after a very confusing misunderstanding to which I simply plead guilty to avoid dragging it out longer than it should have. Either way, I signed what the mall cops wanted me to sign and they told me to plead guilty, so I did. I was 20 yrs old at the time. I did 40-50 hours of community service, and since then have turned 21. Probation hasn’t really stopped me living life normally, and I even forget about it from time to time.

      However, I am currently applying for a basic security guard job after consulting with the manager and handing over my letters of recommendation.

      My question to you is: am I able to still be hired for said job in my current position? (First offense)
      Dear James: Whether you’re eligible for this position is entirely up to the employer. Since you’re still on probation they may want you to successfully complete your term before hiring you. However, depending on the job itself, there’s no law keeping them from hiring you now even knowing that you’re on probation. It’s up to them unless it’s a government job where restrictions may apply. Good luck and keep your record clean from here on. After a period of time [a year or so] you’ll be able to apply for expungement of your record.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jorge
      Thu, 05 Aug 2010 at 06:54

      Dear Judge,

      If i pay the Settlement Offer will all charges be dropped or will i still have to attend court and seek diversion?
      Dear Jorge: There are two aspects of a shoplifting or theft incident. One is the criminal side where formal charges are filed and you take care of the matter in court. The other is civil through payment of a fine to the store. In most cases when the civil fine is paid, law enforcement doesn’t prosecute the shoplifting. But that doesn’t mean both civil and criminal consequences couldn’t happen. After paying the fine to the store, the local prosecutor could still file a shoplifting charge against you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • darlene
      Thu, 05 Aug 2010 at 11:21

      Dear Judge,
      My Friends daughter was caught shoplifting-when she was a minor-she was not allowed to return to the mall for 5 years.Since she turned 18 she was shoplifting recieved a note to pay walmart back- she did not-went to court,self represented and was found guilty.she spent about 4 days in jail and Dad bailed her out.Since that time she has lived from place to place-not wanting to obey the rules she leaves home…only returning for money or similar request. Her family asked if she could live with me in a neighboring state and go to school to get her GED (she quit school a few weeks before graduation)I have one child remaining at home (13) How do I find out if she is allowed to leave her state or if she has probation or community service, etc.? Her father and grandmother
      are not willing to check-stating they do not want to get her in trouble. She has not obtained her school records etc. She said there was no answer- her family asked when I want her here? I do not want any trouble-her mother was my best friend for 37 yrs.(before she passed away) Please Advise!
      Dear Darlene: Since your friend’s daughter is now 18 she should be able to help you obtain the information you want before taking her in. She can contact the court or her probation officer and get a letter stating her status with the court and her authority to leave the state. There isn’t a lot you can do because of her adult status and confidentiality/privacy laws. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Mary
      Fri, 06 Aug 2010 at 09:24

      Dear Judge-
      I recently shoplifted under $25 worth of merchandise and was not stopped at the time. The store had a sign saying there was a candid camera. I’m 18 and I was in Mass. but I live in Illinois. If they did not stop me at the time, what are the odds they will be able to find me later?
      Dear Mary: The odds are in your favor unless they have some way to identify you. You could receive a letter in the mail requiring payment of a civil fine or court appearance but it seems unlikely without your name, address or other means of identifying you. You may not be so lucky next time – make this your last shoplifting incident.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Alicia
      Sat, 07 Aug 2010 at 02:05

      Two months ago, me and my older sister were caught shoplifting t Kohls. The stolen merchandise totaled out to be $314. In Georgia, it is considered a felony since it was over $300. The LP person totaled our clothes together but we stole our own clothes not together. If they were to split it up it wouldn’t have been a felony charge. Me and my sister both had to pay a $150 fine for Kohl’s which we did pay. I have to go to courty on August the 9th and I am really scared. I don’t have a defense lawyer and this is both our first offense. What is going to happen? – Worried Georgia Citized
      Dear Alicia: When you go to court the process will be explained to you by a court or probation officer. If you decide to admit the shoplifting explain what happened including the fact that each of you took different items that add up to less than the $300 individually. You may be offered deferred prosecution or what is called diversion. That means when you finish community service hours, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling the case will be closed. Don’t miss your court date or a warrant may be issued for your arrest. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Seb
      Sat, 07 Aug 2010 at 03:31

      hi. I’m 18 and live in Florence, KY. I was accused of shoplifting,but when they accused me outside the store I didn’t have anything. They said they had my picture coming and coming out and he had two DVDs in his hand that he said I stole. He said he’s lucky that I didn’t get arrested but he took down my license plate. and i was banned from the store. He doesn’t know anything about me. No name or nothing and no items in my possession. Just his accusation. What will happen to me?
      Dear Seb: Based on the fact that he wrote down your license plate number, it’s possible they could find out additional contact information based on the registered owner’s information, but this is unlikely since they don’t even know whether you are the registered owner. You most likely will not hear anything more about this incident. Stay away from the store though otherwise you could face a trespass charge. If you want to challenge the ban from the store, you could try contacting a manager to explain the circumstances and your side of the story. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Vivia
      Sat, 07 Aug 2010 at 06:06

      Hi Judge.
      I got caught shoplifting at dillards by the police. After taking back the merchandise and writing me a misdemanor citation they told me to appear in court. They also told me that I can not go back into any dillards anywhere. I am 20 years old and they said that this will go on my personal record and that got me really scared. I was wondering when they write the citation does it go on my record right away or is that up to the judge. This is my first offense and do judges usually give community service and some other form oflesser punishment for first time offenders or is that only for minors? Also what do I do after I plead guilty? Do I just let the judge decide after that or what? In your opinion will this go on my personal record?
      Oh yeah forgot to mention that the police said that the merchandise totaled to $229 but they gave me a misdemeanor citation and they let me walk out on my own.
      Dear Vivia: Until you go to vourt the only record that exists is with the store and the police. After appearing in court, depending on how the case is handled, you may or may not have an official court record of the incident. Since this is your first offense, even as an adult, you may be offered diversion. If that happens make sure you complete all of the terms issued by the judge and the case will be closed. If you decide to admit to the shoplift the judge will tell you what your sentence is. Once you comply with all of the terms, even if you’re placed on short-term probation, the case will end and hopefully you’ve learned from this. This incident alone shouldn’t affect your future plans regarding employment, education or otherwise. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • J
      Sun, 08 Aug 2010 at 11:22

      I tried stealing a $10 item at a store, but was caught. The sales guy asked for the item back, and I handed it to him. He said nothing more. No information was given at ALL. I left the store. When he asked for the item back he was clearly mad though, and after I left I saw him go to the phone. (The store was in a mall — so maybe he was calling mall security? Or maybe I’m just paranoid)

      This happened a month ago. I’ve received nothing in the mail, but I’m terrified that I will. Would he go through the trouble to check security tapes in the parking lot & get my license plate #? Or because he asked for no info, and let me go, do you think this is over and done with?
      Dear J.: As you know, anything is possible including checking video tapes to identify you, etc. But it’s not likely that he would spend the time to do this when he had the opportunity to question you at the time. You may have gotten lucky this time, but don’t push it. If he told you not to return to the store, don’t. Otherwise you could be charged with trespass. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • cantbelivewhatidid
      Mon, 09 Aug 2010 at 01:43

      today i just got caught stealing from a store and got a fine of 200 dollars< will that effect me in getting into college
      Dear Cant: It shouldn’t have an effect on future education or employment opportunities. Once you pay the fine to the store the case may be closed unless they reported the incident to the police and formal charges are filed. If that happens, after you complete whatever penalty the court imposes, you can apply to have your record expunged. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • sunny
      Tue, 10 Aug 2010 at 12:07

      Hi. I live in Illinois (I am 16) and I got caught shoplifting $15 worth of stuff from k-mart. I know its bad and I learned my lesson. They took my name and called my dad. They said I was going to get fined and I couldn’t go back to that k-mart for 1 year. They also said my name goes in the database for every retailer to see. I got a letter with a $200 fine and my parents paid it. Does this go on my criminal record? Does this stay with me forever? Is it going to be hard for me to find a job? How about college?
      Dear Sunny: Since the police weren’t involved and you didn’t have to go to court, you don’t have a “criminal” record. The only record that exists is with the store in the event you return and shoplift again. So, this incident shouldn’t affect your future plans for employment or further education. Don’t return to the store since you’ve been banned. Otherwise they can charge you with trespassing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • J
      Tue, 10 Aug 2010 at 12:31

      I asked the question 3 above this. What does the “civil demand” letter look like? Will it say the name of a law firm, or the store or something? And also, if they did get my info through the license plate #..would they even send the letter? How could they know if the car was under my name..which it isn’t..?
      Dear J: They may not pursue the license number for the very reason that they know the registered name may or may not be you. The civil demand letter will either be on the store’s letterhead or a lawyer’s representing the store. The lawyer will state that the letter is on behalf of the store.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Carlo
      Tue, 10 Aug 2010 at 02:10

      I saw similar acts, but I’m 18 years old, my court date is before my birthday which i turn 19. but i stole from Macys, I never stole before, It was just a moment thing, and i stole under 500$. I Paid Macys Stealing Fee. Now i have court. I have a clean record. I Stay In Missouri. IM FREAKING OUT!!! I’m getting a lawyer I don’t know what to expect, I’m a good kid, I’m enrolled in an University,and have a job, WHAT WILL HAPPEN?
      Dear Carlo: Since this is your first offense, you’ll likely be offered a deferred prosecution or diversion program. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling the case will be closed. If you end up on probation the terms may be the same and when you successfully complete them you can apply for an expungement of your record. You may also plead not-guilty and proceed to trial. Discuss all of these options with your lawyer. Listen to his or her advice and then decide what you want to do. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Innocent
      Tue, 10 Aug 2010 at 02:16

      i live in california. 17, currently a minor.

      yesteraday i was accused of stealing. this is how it went down: i tore off the tag of a piece of jewelry costing no more than $8. i was thinking about stealing it, however, i did not want the item, and gave it to my friend– who had just bought something, to put back to the bowl of jewelry while i tried on one more outfit. i did not purchase the outfit. we left the store, and we were stopped and accused of stealing.

      they found more jewelry in my friends purse, including the ring with the tag off. i know this looks bad, but i ended up looking like i was working with her. i did not want to steal anything, and had the intention of putting the jewelry back in its bowl. she even admitted that i knew nothing of the theft that she was doing. however, i was still accused for the one item.

      this is my first “petty theft”. i am scared. how will this effect my college applications, future job applications, and the like? what will happen to me? will i be charged? what should i do. there were no cops involved, however they did take my name and number, and other info of my parents. i would like this to be as though it had never happened, if possible. i was just with the wrong person, and i truly wish i had put the item back into the jewelry bowl my self instead of this happening to me. please give me some advice!
      Dear Innocent: If the police weren’t called and you weren’t given a ticket or notice to appear in court, then you may have gotten lucky this time. You may still receive a letter in the mail from the store requiring payment of a fine, called a “civil demand.” Once you pay it the case will be closed. This one incident shouldn’t affect your future or plans for further education or employment. If the store told you not to return, don’t. Otherwise they can charge you with trespassing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Innocent
      Tue, 10 Aug 2010 at 03:04

      hi again, i just wanted to ask a few more questions. the store was forever 21, in san francisco. they did not tell me to NOT go to their store anymore, but i dont plan on going there anytime soon anyway. will this restrict me from their other stores however?

      so, this will not be shown on any record, background check, etc? if i were to look for a job, what am i suppose to state in the application regarding any crimes?

      thank you so much for the answer. i feel humiliated, especially because this act was my friends act, and i was just with the wrong person.
      Dear Innocent: It’s probably a good idea to stay away from the store for awhile. This doesn’t mean you can’t go to their other stores if you weren’t trespassed from them. This shouldn’t appear on a background check. As far as answering questions on school or job applications, read the questions carefully because the exact words used in them are important. For example, if you’re asked if you’ve ever been “convicted” of a crime, based on this one incident, you haven’t so you can honestly answer “no.” Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jorge
      Tue, 10 Aug 2010 at 08:31

      Dear Judge,

      I payed the settlement offer that I received from Walmart, will i be hearing from them again? You may receive a receipt from the store indicating that you paid the requested amount.

      Also, once I complete the diversion program will the crime automatically be expunged from my record or will I have to ask for it to be? Each state differs in how they treat their records. It may not be an automatic expungement – you may have to apply for it. Ask the court or whoever is supervising your case.

      If this situation is expunged will schools and jobs be able to see anything related to this and, when asked if i’ve ever been convicted of a crime on an application, will I have to say yes? You haven’t been “convicted” of a crime if you went through diversion. Read the questions on all applications carefully and answer truthfully. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Innocent
      Tue, 10 Aug 2010 at 09:00

      also, is it true that there is a database where forever 21 can put my name and info, and give access for other (majore and minor) retailers to have my name too? i work with a major retailer at the moment, and i don’t want to be fired for something i didn’t do.
      Dear Innocent: There are national databases where retailers who subscribe to the service can add your name. Then other subscribers can check the base when interviewing prospective employees. You’ll have to check with the store to see if they’ve sent your name in. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • LM
      Tue, 10 Aug 2010 at 09:02

      hi, im in the same situation as Innocent. Is it true that there is a database where stores like forever 21 can put my name and info, and give access for other (major and minor) retailers to have my name too? i work with a major retailer at the moment, and i don’t want to be fired for something i didn’t do. (im also a minor, age 17 if that mattered)
      Dear LM: As we told Innocent, there are national databases that retail stores can join and report shoplifting incidents. Other retailers who belong to the database can then seek information on potential employees. If there’s a match, then you may not be hired. Hopefully you’d be given a chance to explain what happened. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • LM
      Wed, 11 Aug 2010 at 04:09

      Hi again. Thank you so much for answering my question. Is there a way to clear my name put of the database? I didn’t do anything, however I was accused and my parent just signed the forms in order to not have any cops involved. With a case kindof like innocent’s, what is the best thing to do? Pay and that’s it? Or is it wise to settle this in court? O do you think no one would believe?
      Dear LM: If the store does file names of shoplifters with a database, you could ask them which one they use and write to them explaining the situation. They may need a letter from the store agreeing with removing your name. You may be worrying needlessly, however, unless you know for sure that the store files names and has done so in your case. The court wouldn’t have anything to do with the database. They’re two separate entities and you’re not involved with a court since nothing was filed there.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • LM
      Wed, 11 Aug 2010 at 10:16

      sorry again for asking questions repeatedly. who should i call? the headquarters and just simply ask them if they’re a part of a national database? if they’re not released to the general public, won’t they just hang up on me? and if i were able to write the database a letter, asking to get rid of my name, if they contact the store i stole from, wouldn’t the store NOT want my name taken off anyway? im sorry for having a confusing question. I’m just reaaaaaally scared about what will happen to my current job in retail.
      Dear LM: You can try direct contact with the database and see what their procedure is to remove a name. You could also contact the store in writing, explain the situation and see if they’ll have it removed. Once they understand what happened they may believe you and help you out. Otherwise, you may be worrying needlessly unless there’s reason for your present employer to run a check on you.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • J
      Wed, 11 Aug 2010 at 12:36

      How long do they have to send the civil demand..aka how long does the statute of limitations last? And how long do letters usually take to come?
      Dear J: The statute of limitations for a misdemeanor may be one or two years. Every state has its own laws about this – you’d have to Google your state’s name, the crime and “statute of limitations.” It could take several months before you receive the letter. It all depends on whether it comes directly from the store or their corporate headquarters, or the attorney who represents the store.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • khadija
      Wed, 11 Aug 2010 at 11:00

      I was caught shoplifting at macy’s in massachusetts yesterday. It was a terrible mistake, i regret it. As i was walking out of the store the LP guy approached me, took me into a room, and made me fill out a form, the basics – height, weight, name, etc. my mom was called and paid the $500 fine. i dont know how much the clothes were worth but i dont think they exceeded $150. the guy said that i would have to go to juvenile court where a judge would speak to me and tell me not to do this again, ask me why i did it, etc. should i be worried? what’s going to happen? this is the first time i’ve ever been in this kind of trouble, i’m only 14. Will it be on my record also? I’ve heard that sometimes macy’s says shoplifters will recieve a court notice just to scare people, im not sure..
      Dear Khadija: It is possible that you won’t hear anything further about this. On the other hand, anything is possible and you may receive a notice in the mail to appear at a court hearing. If that happens, you may be offered diversion since this is a first offense. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine, attend a class or counseling the case will be closed. After completion of the diversion terms you can apply to the court for expungement of your juvenile record. When you appear in court the process will be explained to you. If you do have to go to court don’t miss the hearing and dress appropriately – like you’re going to church. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • k
      Wed, 11 Aug 2010 at 11:42

      I was caught trying to take a item, but gave it back to the clerk when asked. I never left the store with the item, and the clerk said absolutely nothing to me except to ask for the item back. I wasn’t asked for any info: name, address, ID, etc..nothing! This store was in a mall.

      Would the clerk will still press charges (even though he said nothing & let me go)? The only way to get my info would be through my license plates, but the car isn’t registered to me. I’m a girl, and the car is registered to a guy. So, if they did check, would they see the guy name & decide to not bother with it since it clearly isn’t me (girl)?

      It has been 4 weeks since this incident. I’m so paranoid about my parents finding the letter in the mail that I stay home and wait for the mail each day. I’m 20, but still live w/ them. Should I worry anymore? Will I really be charged if they have no possible info on me? Also my town has 100k people, and the store is kind of busy usually. Surely they wouldn’t take the time to go through mall tapes and find my license plate if they could have just gotten my info immediately?

      Also..this store’s policy is to prosecute every shoplifter no matter the amount of dollar items. But maybe I got lucky/the clerk didn’t want to deal with it? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
      Dear K: You may have gotten lucky this time. As you know anything is possible so you may receive a letter in the mail notifying you of a court date. However, since a month has passed since the incident and there’s no way to identify you, it’s unlikely you’ll hear anything further about this. A lesson learned, right? It’s hardly worth the aggravation you’ve gone through. Good luck.
      [This is information noly - not legal advice].

    • k
      Thu, 12 Aug 2010 at 01:52

      Yes, definitely a lesson learned! You said they might still send a court date in the mail, why wouldn’t they just send a civil demand instead?
      Dear K: You may receive both – one from the court if charges are filed, and one from the store if they decide to impose a fine. The store’s action is considered a civil action, and the court’s is a criminal proceeding.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • khadija
      Thu, 12 Aug 2010 at 03:55

      Hi again, thanks for answering my question. i talked with my mother and she said she thinks that she wrote down our old adress on the information paper the LP guy gave to her. I know she wasn’t thinking because she was in shock, can they still send one to me? Also, if i do have to go to court and go through a diversion program do i have to pay ANOTHER fine? i’ve already cost my parents $500, which i feel terrible about and i know they won’t be able to pay more. im hoping i dont recieve the notice. they didnt call the police or mall security at macys either.
      Dear Khadija: As we mentioned earlier, you’re not likely to hear anything further about this. If you do, an additional fine from the court is possible but you’ll have a chance to explain your situation to the judge. You may receive additional work hours in place of the fine. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • kara O’Rourke
      Thu, 12 Aug 2010 at 07:26

      hi, recently a friend and i ( not proudly) shoplifted at macys. I stole 175 worth of jewlery and she took 130-135 worth. Since i’m 17, and i have a clean record, how much do you think ill be paying for a fine? Also is there anyway I could talk to the judge about doing community service in substitution of paying the whole amount?
      Dear Kara: Since this is your first offense, you may not have to pay a fine. It depends on how the store and police, if they were involved, decide to handle this. The store could send you a letter requiring payment of a fine. Pay it on time and that part of the case will be closed. If you have to go to juvenile court on this, you may be offered diversion which means when you complete community work hours, pay restitution, attend a class or counseling the case is closed. You should have a chance to speak with a court officer or the judge. You can explain why you’d prefer hours over a fine. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Vanessa Van Petten
      Thu, 12 Aug 2010 at 07:29

      What Will Happen To Me If My Teen Gets Caught Shoplifting?
      http://www.askthejudge.info/what-if-i-get-caught-shoplifting/108/

    • Aw
      Thu, 12 Aug 2010 at 09:17

      hi.
      I just got caught shoplifting at khols and the items total $262 all together. That amount Is a misdemeanor of retail fraud 2nd degree in the state of MI. I have a court date and am hiring an attorney. What are the possible consequences if this is my first offense and I have a clear record? Will I still have pay for up 3x the amount stolen to the store no matter what? if I can talk the case down, is it possible that I will only have to pay court fines? I am in college, will this affect my financial aid? I am going to be graduating college in a year and a half with a teaching degree, will this restrict me from getting a job? I appreciate your help!
      Dear Aw: Since this is your first offense you may be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine or restitution, attend a class or counseling the case will be closed. Fines are up to the court and may be up to the maximum allowed by statute. Your school is not likely to find out about this and it shouldn’t affect future employment once your record is cleared. Discuss all of this with your lawyer. He or she will be able to explain the legal procedures in your state and what to expect. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Nat Jayne
      Thu, 12 Aug 2010 at 11:17

      I’m fifteen, and I got caught stealing $36.00 worth of stuff from Walmart. It was my first time, but I got arrested and taken to jail. I have a court date soon and I’m extremely scared; What will happen?
      Dear Nat Jayne: Since this is your first, and hopefully last, offense you may be offered what is called deferred prosecution or diversion. That means when you complete community service, pay a fine or restitution, attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed. You could also be placed on probation for a period of time with similar terms. If that happens ask about clearing your record after you successfully finish probation. Don’t miss your court date and dress appropriately. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • sam
      Thu, 12 Aug 2010 at 11:52

      If i am on probabtion alreadyy and shoplifted what can happen to me?
      Dear Sam: That’s a good question. As you know one of your probation terms is to remain law-abiding. So, by shoplifting, you’ve violated your probation and face increased consequences. Talk to your probation officer and/or lawyer about what can happen now. You may be continued on probation with additional terms including some time in detention depending on your record and the court. Good luck and think twice the next time you’re tempted to steal.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Dylan
      Fri, 13 Aug 2010 at 03:46

      Hello,
      I was caught with one of my friends at Wal-Mart for shop lifting and I was told that since I opened the item and she put it in her bag I am also busted for shoplifting. Is that true? I thought that if anything I should be in trouble for destruction of property and just pay for how much it was and be allowed to leave. What I did was open the box and take it out, then my friend she grabbed them and put them in her bag. So am I still guilty of shoplifting seeing as how I didn’t conceal the item on my person? I just don’t understand if that is what I should be in trouble for. I am just really worried because, I know this is bad to say, I just feel like all I did was open it up and shouldn’t have to be in trouble for shoplifing. I know that they said I was part of it since I opened it and she took it, but still I just opened it. Not concealed it and left the store with it. Please help. :(
      Dear Dylan: What you did may fit the legal definition of shoplifting in your state. Google your state’s name and “shoplifting” and you can read the law that defines shoplifting. Usually when you’re assisting someone take something you can be charged with the same crime, or as an accessory to the crime, as the one who actually leaves the store with the item. If you go to court on this talk it over with a court officer or an attorney and they’ll explain the law to you and the court process. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Dylan
      Fri, 13 Aug 2010 at 10:40

      Thank you for the help. Now I am wondering what can happen to me. I am 16 and the merchandise was around $20. I just want to know what can all happen to me seeing as how I still only opened the merchandise and didn’t conceal it. I live in Michigan and was wondering what they have to say about me being 16 and what can happen to me. Thanks for all the help! :)
      Dear Dylan: What happens is up to the judge who hears the case and the evidence the state presents in support of the shoplifting charge. The case could be dismissed because the evidence doesn’t support the charge against you. If you’re found guilty you could be placed on probation with some community service hours, a fine or a shoplifting class. Talk with either the court officer or attorney you’ll meet when you go to your first hearing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Dylan
      Sat, 14 Aug 2010 at 01:10

      Hello again Judge.
      I now have another problem. My friend is trying to put the blame on me of putting something else in the other friends purse, but when they caught us they found it in her purse and said that she did it and they didn’t say that me or the other friend helped? So if her parents decided in court to say that I also helped do it, can I get in trouble even though the girl who had it in her purse already took the blame to the cops? So can I get in trouble even though they said she was the only one who did it??
      Dear Dylan: Anything is possible as you know. If the truth comes out the judge will decide who’s responsible for what. If you end up in court on this, tell the truth. That is always the best approach to anything you’ll face in your life. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • adejah
      Sun, 15 Aug 2010 at 02:39

      hello my name is adejah martin and i recently got caught shoplifting from a meijer with my cousin and a friend.me and my cousin were the ones stealing but my friend didnt take anything but she knew we were stealing and she’d ask if we could take things for her so i took things for myself and my cousin took things for my friend we had left the store and right when we left two ladies that worked at the store came out and caught us they let my friend go though i i was very cooperative and didnt give any attitude but my cousin did and one of the ladies swore at my cousin (were all thirteen.) my father and my vousins mother came to pick us up but my cousin was only staying with me and she lives in chicago illinois. were waiting for our court dates to come in the mail im an honor roll student and have never been in any legal trouble before nor have my cousin or my friend but my cousin isnt doing very good in school and shes smarter than me but she has issues at home with her parents (divorce) and my friend is add,bipolar,and dislexic.but she copes with it. i have no clue what is going to go on in court and im very worried and im not sure what to expect please someone help me. :(
      by the way..we both stole cosmetics both around 60 dollars worth and we were fined 200 dollars (both of our parents were charged with this amount) and they said there could be other charges,,like what? please let me know thank you.
      Dear Adejah: Since this is your first offense and considering your age, you’ll probably be offered diversion when you go to court. That means when you complete some community service hours, pay a fine in addition to the one you paid the store, attend a class or counseling, the case will be closed. Don’t miss your court date. You can discuss the process with a court or probation officer when you get there. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Chris
      Sun, 15 Aug 2010 at 06:59

      My sister and cousin were caught shoplifting. The total amount was $304 and some change. in georgia if it is over $300 it is considered a felony. i dont know about my cousin but my sister is a first time offender. what do you think is oging to happen to her?
      Dear Chris: As a first time offender, your sister may be offered diversion or what is called deferred prosecution. That means when she completes some community service hours, pays a fine, attends a class or counseling the case will be closed. Tell her not to miss her court date – she’ll have a chance at court to discuss the process with a court or probation officer. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Deon
      Mon, 16 Aug 2010 at 10:00

      I was in seattle on vacation and was caught stealing alcohol. I am 17 years old, and charges of Minor in Possession of alcohol, and 3rd degree theft were charged. I am curious as to what may happen to me. This was my first crime, and i live in alaska. How will this work out? I cant afford to fly to seattle for my court date. Are there other options?
      Dear Deon: Read any paperwork you were given carefully. There should also be the name and telephone number of the court you’re to appear in. You can call the court, explain where you live and ask how to handle the ticket. Someone should be able to give you information in order to avoid the issuance of a warrant. You might also consider writing the court a letter, not email, explaining where you live. Don’t forget to put the ticket number on the letter and the envelope. That way it makes its way to your court file. You could also speak with a lawyer in your town about this for advice. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Deon
      Mon, 16 Aug 2010 at 10:15

      Thank you. Also, do you have any idea on what the punishment will look llike?
      Dear Deon: You may be placed on probation with specific terms you’ll have to follow. That may include some community service or a fine or restitution. It’s up to the judge to decide the penalty. Since you lie out of state, you may not be ordered to attend a class or counseling unless they’re available where you live. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • zach
      Mon, 16 Aug 2010 at 10:37

      Dear judge i was with some friends and got caught shoplifting i never put anything in the bag one of my friends did i was eighteen at the time and i got a summonds to go to court i went to court and got thirty hours community service and had to pay fines i did that and also got probation for a year now my public defender appealed my case but i didn kno i missed my date and spent a day in jail and now i have to go to court for the appeal i want to stay away from court and jail. I don’t kno wut to do i go to court tomorrow and im scared to death this is the first time i’ve gotten into trouble now because of this i have a concealment charge and failure to appear charge i am so worried wut do u believe the out come will be if i tell the judge that i belive there was a misunderstanding between me and my previous lawyer and i never wanted this case appealed?
      Dear Zach: Get to court early so you can speak with your lawyer. Since you’ve already completed the community service and paid the fine, you should be in good shape as far as the shoplifting charge goes. Regarding the concealment charge, you’ll have to talk that over with your lawyer. Try to give him or her a call today for advice and information about the next hearing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • david
      Tue, 17 Aug 2010 at 11:12

      I worked at wal-mart in oklahoma city. On my last day, my friend grabbed some games and movies, and i grabbed two then gave them to him. He opened them, and we were caught. I was told i was put on two weeks suspension and that I would get a call from loss protection, and that I could do whatever after that. He said I was banned from the store, and My friend has stolen things many times from the store, and at first I didn’t know he had, but he had been with me each time. In total, from what I’ve found, he’s taken well over $500….What should I expect, and what all CAN they do to me if I claim that I was not the one stealing, just an accomplice? Please be quick.
      and by the way, they did NOT ask either of us for any type of ID whatsoever. I’m not sure what they can do to me, for they’ll probably put it all on me. Can they hold my pay? I really would like to know soon.
      Dear David: First, as an accomplice you can be charged as if you were the main perpetrator. An accomplice shares the responsibility for the crime. You may receive a letter from the store requiring payment of a fine. If you do pay it on time and the case may be closed. Or you could receive a notice from the court telling you when to appear for a hearing. Since you worked there they have your identification information. Once in court you may be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service, pay restitution, attend a class or counseling the case is closed. Since you’ve been banned from the store, don’t return or you be charged with trespassing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Samantha
      Tue, 17 Aug 2010 at 11:37

      To Whom it may concern;

      I am 19 years old and live in Florida. I go to a prestigious university in Europe and did something so out of character. I stole 220 USD worth from a department store. I regret it more than anything. I stole a couple articles earlier that day amounting to 60 dollars and I went back with the intention to return an item I had purchased but was overcome with financial worries I stole again and was caught. This was my first time doing this and the items amounting to 60 dollars were returned. I am worried the store may link the two and charge me twice. Will that affect my PTA and misdemeanor charge? Will I have to go to jail? I am really a good kid but I was selfish and stupid in what I did the other day. If I go to jail it will ruin my relationship with my family and my university degree. I know I should have thought of this before I committed the crime but I didn’t and am now facing the consequences. What will happen to me?
      Dear Samantha: Since these are your first offenses and they happened the same day, you’re likely to be offered what is called diversion or deferred prosecution. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine or restitution, attend a class or counseling the case will be closed. Don’t miss your court date. It’s unlikely that you’ll receive any jail time. Both incidents may be handled at the same time. You’ll have an opportunity once at court to discuss this with a court officer or a public defender. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Samantha
      Wed, 18 Aug 2010 at 12:17

      Hi its Samantha again,
      I am worried I won’t be in the US when they issue a court date and my lawyer said that he could appear in court for me. I don’t want the court to think I am running away as I will be studying as a full time student in another country. My lawyer said he could receive my mail for me and notify me once I receive anything. I was not charged the first time, but I assume they will charge me again. But they will see that the items were returned. Will this remain on my permanent record? Will I have to get it expunged? Is my case complicated and unusual? Sorry for so many questions I am just very scared. I have never done anything like this and am the first person to ever have dishonored my family in such a horrible way.
      One more question: What are the chances of me going to jail? I have told you the everything and the whole truth.
      Dear Samantha: Your case is not complicated or unusual. Courts see all kinds of situations on a regular basis. Relax and trust that your lawyer will represent you zealously. He will keep you informed about what happens and, under the rules of court, may appear for you in your absence. There is little chance of a jail sentence, but again you have a lawyer to explain everything to you. Have faith in his advice. He also knows about expungement and clearing a record once one exists. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

      thank you

    • Samantha
      Wed, 18 Aug 2010 at 12:41

      Hi again,
      Does this prevent me from being able to acquire a student loan?
      Thank you
      Dear Samantha: That depends on the specific rules and regulations of the lender. They may not ask about or obtain information about this incident. At this point you don’t have a record regarding this and may not have one after the court process especially if diversion is available to you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Ally
      Wed, 18 Aug 2010 at 03:10

      My friend and I went into Walmart today. She got a cart and I went with her to look at comforters for her kids, she put two in her cart, and then went to the front of the store to get a sticker on them, so she could take them back for money. *stealing* I didn’t want to be around her while she was doing this, so I took my nephew to get his hair cut at Cost Cutters inside Walmart. She went to customer service to return the comforters and get the money put on a card. (I was not around while she was doing this) As we were about to leave the store, they took her and I and my nephew all back into the room. The police were called, she was charged with theft, and I was told to not come back again. I was not around her when she returned the stuff, but I was there when she put the stuff in her cart. I shop at Walmart very often, is there anyway I can get the ban taken off?
      Dear Ally: Stores have the authority to ban customers for a variety of reasons. Although your explanation is plausible, the store may not accept it as sufficient. You could write them a letter explaining in full what happened and ask about lifting the ban. Send it to the Loss Prevention Office or the company’s headquarters. If it’s that important to you, you could also contact a local lawyer to write a letter on your behalf. That might cost you a few hundred dollars. Otherwise, don’t violate the ban or you could be charged with trespassing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice]

    • James
      Wed, 18 Aug 2010 at 05:50

      well I in micro center in Rockville Maryland when this happened
      I came in the store and I saw the clearance rack it’s a bunch of picked over and opened stuff and as I looked I saw these VGA adapter that were 70% off retail the box said 5.99 so that’s 1.24 but there were two in the box I took them out and looked at them and put them back in as I get up to the front I also have memory 159.99 and a wifi n adapter the lady at the cash register saw the box with the VGA adapters in there and opened it and said that the price was for only one and I said ring me up for two. And she seem like she was doing it but she did not so she rang me up for one knowing there was two in there. So the security guy calls me in the back and start saying I know what you did you put and extra one in there I told him that I know two was in there and I told the lady to ring me up for two. He did not care he called the police and they heard me out and did not take me to jail or charge me.
      I asked was they going to take me to court and they did not give me and answer and the lady that rung up my stuff and saw the two and charged me for one they would not get her to prove my point.
      So I am wondering what will happen next I called and he said it takes 2 months to get a court date.
      He also refunded the 1 VGA adapter after I paid for it.
      He is saying I tryed to take a 1.24 VGA adapter which is crazy,lol

      What should I do? What should I expect to happen? How long will it take for them to do something? Do you think I should write corporate and let them handle this?
      Any advice will help thank you in advance .
      Dear James: It may take awhile for you to hear something from either the store or the court. It depends on the size of your town/city and how busy your local prosecutor is. You may not hear anything at all. If the police believed you they won’t be filing a report and sending it in for charges. If you do get charged with theft or shoplifting, tell the truth. Explain your side of the story to your attorney if you have one and the court. Also if you were banned from the store, don’t return. Otherwise you could be charged with trespassing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Rob
      Wed, 18 Aug 2010 at 07:20

      I live in CA and I recently got caught shoplifting at Kohls about a month ago. I am 22. I stole a couple t-shirts and everything was prob worth less than $50. I was sent to the camera room and later on a cop came and questioned me and got all my information down. This is my first offense. I was wondering what would happen to me next. Like do I just have to go to court and pay a fine or will I end up in jail? Please help me out. I am very confused. Ive never been in trouble with authority before
      Dear Rob: Two things could happen. First, you might hear from the store by way of a letter requiring payment of a fine. If that happens, pay it on time and the case may be closed. You may also receive a notice in the mail to appear in court for shoplifting. That may take a month or so before you get it. Don’t miss your hearing date. The process will be explained to you at court by a court/probation officer. You may be offered diversion which means when you complete some community service, pay a fine or restitution, attend a class or counseling the case will be closed. You could also end up on probation for a short period under the same terms described above. Once you have all of this behind you, you can apply to have your record expunged. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sandra
      Thu, 19 Aug 2010 at 04:59

      hello, about 2 months ago I got caught shoplifting about $600 dollars worth of stuff from menards. I didn’t get arrested but I did have to turn myself in after a warrant was issued. Now apparently I have some really bad issues because I just got caught shoplifting again I had about $260 stuff from jcpenny. The second time i got caught was in a different county. Both charged were class d felony. I havnt even been to court for my first offense yet do you think I’ll have to serve jail time or do you think if I start therapy and tell the judge that I have problems but I’m trying to work on them in therapy if he will lenient on me. I’m 22 and I have two sons and I think I’ll just go crazy if I have to be away from them! I must be the stupid person Alive!
      Oh also I don’t know if you can answer this or not. My husband is talking about divorcing me. Do you think I have any chance of getting custody of my children or has my stupidy cost me my entire family?
      Dear Sandra: The answers to your questions about the two shoplifting incidents depend on the laws in your area and the policies of the court that has jurisdiction over this case. It is always a possibility that a stint in jail may be ordered by the court. If you explain the situation at home and express remorse for your behavior, the judge will take that into consideration. If you feel you need help to control your urge to steal, starting with counseling as soon as possible is a good idea. The judge will also take notice of that. Regarding a divorce, you’re not likely to lose custody of your children over a shoplifting incident alone. The bottom line in determining custody is best interests of the children. If you continue to break the law, however, the chances increase that you’ll be sentenced to some jail time which will remove you from your children. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • k
      Thu, 19 Aug 2010 at 02:23

      Hi, I asked a question about trying to shoplift, but got caught, employee didn’t ask me ANY info, & I left the store. Store was in a mall, I was scared they would call security/police & get my license plate #’s.

      It’s been 1 month. I just looked up crime reports and the date I shoplifted, and there is a theft crime listed at the mall on that date. But the time stated shows 1 hour later than when my crime happened. I’m curious..do you think the store person did report the crime..and it’s possible that they did get my license plate # from the cameras?

      I haven’t gotten a civil demand or anything yet, and this could not even be my crime. Idk, I just assumed since it’s the same date, it says “theft crime” and shows the mall I did it in, thanks!
      how do you know if a warrant is out for your arrest?
      Dear K: It’s not likely that you’ll hear anything without any means to identify you. Depending on the size of the mall, another theft by someone else an hour later is not unusual. When you get stopped by the police and they run a check on your name, that’s when you’ll know if there’s an outstanding warrant. You could also call the police and ask if you’re curious. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Christian
      Thu, 19 Aug 2010 at 04:34

      Hi. I’m 18 years old and I got caught shoplifting(1st Offence) from Wal-Mart in May and I paid the Civil Fines and I have Court on the 8th of September. Everything I stole added up to $71. The only reason I stole in the first place is b/c I was under stress and not in the right state of mind b/c I had alot of bad things happen to me the months before and I feel so bad about stealing, I even cried when the officer was talking to me. I was wondering what would happen to me and if I told the Judge about me not being in the right state of mind would I get in serious trouble?
      Dear Christian: Since this is your first offense, you can expect to be offered diversion. That means if you admit the shoplifting and then complete some community service, pay a fine or restitution to the store, attend a class or counseling the case will be closed. You’ll have a chance at your hearing to speak with a court or probation officer. Tell them you’ve paid the civil demand and explain what happened and why. Don’t miss court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Danni
      Fri, 20 Aug 2010 at 10:02

      What would happen if your underage and you are investigated for a beer run? The cops came to my house and asked for me saying it was nothing serious. I’m wondering what would be the worst that could happen since they didn’t specify what really happened. Should I plead the fifth? Or should I wait and see if I am actually caught up and verify that the cops know what they are actually charging me for?…
      Dear Danni: We can’t tell you what to do or give you legal advice. We suggest you talk with your parents about this even if they don’t know now. They will find out eventually so it’s better to be up front with them. If you lie to the police you may be charged with a crime: obstruction of justice or false reporting. If you are charged with anything you’ll be notified about a court hearing where you’ll have a chance to discuss your case with a lawyer, or your family may hire one to represent you. Confide in your parents for starters. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Danni
      Fri, 20 Aug 2010 at 11:57

      Sweet total honesty!..Well I gotta do what I gotta do. Thanks

    • nalee
      Sat, 21 Aug 2010 at 12:17

      My sister 16 yrs and I 15 yrs went shopping once and got caught shoplifting and my sister had done her community service after court already. I was just wondering what would happen to me when I turn 16?
      Dear Nalee: If you didn’t receive a ticket or notice to appear in court when your sister was caught, it’s not likely you’ll hear anything further about this incident. Depending on when this happened it may be too late to take you to court for it. When you turn 16, if you shoplift again, you may be charged and end up with similar penalties as your sister. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Alex
      Sat, 21 Aug 2010 at 12:40

      I was caught shoplifting at sears in IL, im 15. I was walking out when i was stopped by an LP. I hid the item in my wasitband inside a dressing room. I was looking on the internet and found out that if the LP don’t see you conceal the item they can’t do anything about it. This happened a couple days ago and i alredy confessed to stealing it but since if what i said above is true, did the LP unlawfully detain me?
      Dear Alex: As you know, stores may have only one or two loss prevention employees on duty. There may be 50 or more shoppers in the store. Consequently video cameras are installed to keep on eye on all sections of the store. It is not true that the LP officer has to visibly see you shoplift before stopping you. He can rely on the video, or his observation of you after you hid the item, or information from another employee or shopper. The LP may conduct an investigative stop to question you. For more on this you can Google the name of your state and “shoplifting.” Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jenna
      Sat, 21 Aug 2010 at 09:34

      Hi Judge, its Jenna here again. (I stole from Claires) I was just informed that my court date is september 5th, and I am nearly freaking out. I talked to my parents about diversion and they don’t think I’ll be offered it. Should I expect probation then? It was only 18.00 dollars worth of merch. but my parents do not think that I will be offered any program to avoid probation/a record. if I do get probation, how will this effect my schooling? I am only 15, and in highschool- top of my class. School is VERY important to me, as is getting a job. How will this effect my getting a job?
      Dear Jenna: If you do receive probation, follow the terms to the letter and on time. Then you’ll be eligible to apply for an expunged record. Ask your probation officer about your record and how to clear it. You have plenty of time before you’re 18 and should have no problem starting adulthood with a clear record. That’s assuming, of course, that there are no further incidents. This shouldn’t have any affect on future plans for education or employment. Good luck and here’s hoping diversion is offered.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Nancy
      Sun, 22 Aug 2010 at 03:10

      I was caught shoplifting for the first time at sears. I am in my 50s. the total was 212. I live in PA. The police was called and he checked on my status and confirmed there are no warrants or previous arrests. the LP dept took me in the back and had me sign some papers. They said I’d get a letter in the mail about restitution and will probably have to appear in front of the magistrate. But the lady said to me ‘ make sure you pay that fine immediately ‘ whatever you do….
      Should I get a lawyer? If I pay that fine immediately does that mean possible not appearing in court? I am sick to my stomach but am so glad I got caught. i feel like a ton of bricks have been lifted off of my shoulders. I knew I’d never stop unless caught. Didn’t need any of the stuff – I would put it in the poor boxes. I have made an appointment for therapy. Should I share all this information with the judge? Please tell me what to expect and what to do. Thanks.
      Dear Nancy: First we must tell you that Askthejudge.info is an educational site for teenagers about the law. We do not provide legal advice to adults or teens. We can tell you, however, that paying the “civil demand” from the store is a good idea. You may not have to go to court if it’s paid on time. On the other hand, you’ll have to appear in court if your local prosecutor decides to file a shoplifting charge against you. If that happens explain everything to the court and your lawyer if you have one. The fact that you’ve started therapy is in your favor. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Karina
      Sun, 22 Aug 2010 at 04:59

      Hi,
      So today me and my friend were caught shoplifting jewelry at JCP. I realized a lot of people do. But I’m 16 and so is she, we were caught and had to fill out papers. No police were involved because oh parents could come. The lady said we would have to go to court though? I’m wondering, since I’m a minor, this will go on my juvy record? Is that still considered permanent record. I’m jus worried about what’s going to happen. How much trouble am I technically in? The stuff we took was on a sale table for about 15. Original price 60. I live in California if that helps any.. Thanks
      Dear Karina: If you end up in court, you’ll likely be offered diversion. That means when you finish some community service, pay a fine or restitution to the store, attend a class or counseling the case will be closed. After a year or so you can apply for a clear record. Ask someone at court about this. If you don’t hear from the court you may only get a letter in the mail from the store requiring payment of a fine. Pay it on time and this will be over. It is what’s called a “civil demand” that most states allow stores to impose rather than clogging the courts with these cases. Good luck.
      [Thjis is information only - not legal advice].

    • Tony
      Sun, 22 Aug 2010 at 08:51

      Hello,

      I am twenty one years old. A few weeks ago, I had some people over at my house and they were drinking beer. At, around 2am we ran out of beer and the “party” was winding down. So, I decided to walk to the store with my friend and get a cigar. On our way out a guest stopped me and said we needed more beer. I said jokingly, “it’s past 2am what are you gonna do steal it?” He replied with “yeah, you guys distract the clerk and I’ll grab the beer.” He then laughed and I thought he was joking. My friend and I walked out and down to the store. I was at the check out asking the clerk for a cigar and in comes that guest. He ran out a few seconds later with a case of beer. I told my friend to run after him, and he did, but came back and said he couldn’t catch him. The clerk asked me if I was with him and I said no. The clerk rolled her eyes and gave me a disgusted look. Then the clerk finished ringing my friend and I up and we left. My wife went into the store a few weeks later, to find that the store manager put up security camera pictures of my friend and I and said that we were “lookouts” and they called the police and have a warrant out for us. what do I do? Please help. Thank you
      Dear Tony: In order to avoid further inconvenience if there is a warrant out for your arrest, you might want to talk with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. A traffic stop could result in your being locked up on the warrant. Many cities and towns have free legal assistance programs for the public. You get roughly 30 minutes with a lawyer and that might be all you need to get some advice. Call your local court and ask if they have such a program. Otherwise, you can call one out of the phone book or online. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jenna
      Tue, 24 Aug 2010 at 11:13

      Hey Judge! It’s jenna again, sorry for writing so much! :D but I just came to update you on how things went; My parents had the court date moved up because of a last minuet before school vacation; so it was today!!
      Firstly, I did get offered diversion! The man said that it was really rare in this area that I would get offered diversion and if I ever get into another situation of any sort it will never happen again.. but that will NEVER happen! I have learned my lesson. I have to do a free online class, and attend a council class for 3 months. I didn’t get any court fee’s or anything else, just counciling and an online class.
      I have certainly learned my lesson, and thank you for all of the help!!!
      You’re welcome, Jenna. Glad things worked out for you. Study hard.

    • Dylan
      Tue, 24 Aug 2010 at 12:28

      Hello Judge it is Dylan again,
      This time I have another question. I got a letter from the court saying that Count 1: Retail Fraud – Third Degree. Then it says what I did. After that though it says Misdemeanor: 93 Days and/or $500.00, or 3 times the value/difference in price of property stolen, obtained, or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater. What does this mean? Does it mean that Wal-Mart is sending me a bill and that I would have to pay that? Or would I have to pay more at the court, that up to $500.00 thing? I am 16 and this happened in Michigan. What does this mean I am just so worried that I will have more to pay for… Like I said before what happened was I opened the box of razors and my friend took them and concealed them. So why does it say I stole them? Please help me…
      This was also my firt offense ever to the above statement.
      Dear Dylan: The court document you received spells out the charge filed against you and the maximun penalties you’re facing. It doesn’t mean that the judge will give you these penalties – it could be something less depending on the circumstances. In addition to the consequences of this criminal charge, the store may impose a fine on you. That’s the civil part of the case. When you go to court you can discuss the charges with your lawyer if one is appointed for you. The charge alleges you stole the razors because the prosecutor sees both of you acting together to steal the items. You’ll get to explain your part in the incident at court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Cheyenne
      Tue, 24 Aug 2010 at 08:00

      Hello Judge Tom, me and a friend(both 15) were caught shoplifting at Sears two weeks ago in Cali. I stole $50 worth of stuff and my friend $45. This was our first prosecution. They took us into a room and made us fill out paperwork and a policewoman arrived, handcuffed us and took us in. Our parents were called to let us out. They took pictures and fingerprinted us. They said we’ll be getting a mail about when court is. I was wondering whats the most likely result that the judge would declare? How should i speak to the judge so that he will cut me some slack?
      Additional details:
      The policewoman said that this will be on my record until I’m 18.
      When i apply for college or a job after I’m 18, would this still be on there? I’m afraid this will disadvantage me
      Dear Cheyenne: Since this is your first offense you can expect to be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine or restitution to the store, or attend a class the case will be closed. If that happens you won’t have a record to worry about. Don’t miss your hearing and the process will be explained to you when you go to court. When speaking with the judge, be respectful and tell the truth. You may not even see a judge if diversion works out. Hopefully you’ve learned from this. The next time, diversion won’t be available. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jane
      Wed, 25 Aug 2010 at 01:45

      I was banned from the store.
      If I go to the store, what would be happend?
      All of the workers know my face?
      How do they catch me if I go there?
      Can’t I go there just one time?
      Dear Jane: It’s your choice whether to return to the store or not. However, since you were banned if you do go back you could be charged with trespassing. Is violating the ban so important that you’d risk being arrested? Think about it before going back. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Patricia Sonntag
      Wed, 25 Aug 2010 at 06:09

      Dear Judge Tom
      My daughter age 17 and a friend age 15 were caught by loss prevention shoplifting at JCP (value of items unsure but around $130 each person). They were detained and yelled at and ridiculed and they were asked questions like “what do your parents do for a living” etc… The questioning happened before parents arrived. When I arrived, I confronted both girls and told them it is wrong what they did, the act of theft and that they need to take this very seriously. The security officer came out of his office yelling again that they younger girl will go to juvenile detention and yelled at my daughter that she is a Felon and she is going to jail. We all felt intimidated and scared. No police were present. My daughter is to appear for arraignment in adult court. Unfortunately, she has a prior for a small amount of marijuana possession 1 1/2 years ago which she completed community service for through Juvenile court. Can you tell me in Michigan if it is okay for loss prevention to verbally abuse detainees and if they can interview at length without parents permission or presence? Also, they are charging me $200. civil charge as requested by an out of state lawyer. If I pay the $200 they will not file a civil suit. Is it legal for them to hold the parent responsible if they are charging the minor as an adult?
      Thanks so much. We are to appear Friday at 9:00 AM
      I am a good parent, despite my daughters issues. My other daughter does not behave this way and this daughter is impulsive and I have asked for help from Psychiatrists and counselors.
      Dear Ms. Sonntag: There are two separate proceedings that may occur when someone steals whether it’s called theft or shoplifting. There is a crime involved which takes the person to criminal or juvenile court. Then there is a civil penalty that many states authorize businesses to impose in place of sueing the shoplifter. Some states allow up to three times the amount shoplifted with a cap of say $200 or $300. So even when you pay the civil fine to the store, your daughter still has to deal with the criminal side of the incident. Regarding the behavior of the LP employee, they are authorized to question shoplifting suspects. Regulating their demeanor is another matter. You could write his supervisor a letter expressing your displeasure with his handling of the case, but you might want to wait until after paying the fine and receiving a letter closing the case out. For more information you can Google “Michigan shoplifting laws.” Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Damacio
      Fri, 27 Aug 2010 at 01:53

      Hi judge I was caught stealing a game from walmart that happened 7 months ago valued $60 and i went to court on July 26 and the judge told me that I have a theft charge ant told me that I can have a court appointed attorney and was wondering what can the court attorney do for me and also I went to my attorneys office and he wont be back until September and my court is this Tuesday what would you reccomend me to do and this is my first offense and i just graduated im 18 and planning to join the USAF thanks you reply :)
      Dear Damacio: Your attorney will review the police reports and any other documents that exist and advise you on your case. When you go to court, your attorney may have another attorney there to cover for him/her who you will be able to talk to. Since this is your first offense, you may be offered a diversion program. This means that upon successful completion of community service, payment of a fine/restitution and attending a class or counseling, the case will be closed and charges dismissed. Remember that the penalties will continue to increase for additional offenses, so we hope you learned from this incident. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Scott
      Fri, 27 Aug 2010 at 04:34

      Hello,
      i am a minor (age 17)and yesterday, i was caught shoplifting at Macy’s in CA. As i left the store, two LP people stopped me and took me to a back room. There I filled out papers, and they said they were calling the police. I had to pay a 395 civil fine and was told i was banned for 3 years. But after the police came, they arrested me and took my finger prints and picture. The officer told me that the court will notify me if I have to go to court. Also, when i was in 6th grade (abour 6 years ago), I was also arrested for prank calling my school. I know this was a stupid actionand I am remorseful. But I would like to know if I would have to go to court and if it will go on my record (even though I was arrested for shoplifting). I know i can get my records sealed when I turn 18 next year, but will these offenses affrect applying to college? Thanks!
      Dear Scott: Since you paid the civil fine or if you’re going to pay the $395 civil fine, the store may choose to not press charges which means that you would not have to go to court. However, if you end up receiving a notice in the mail to appear in court, be sure to appear on the date and time, otherwise a warrant will be issued. If this is your first shoplifting offense, you may be offered a diversion program. This means that upon successful completion of community service hours, payment of a fine/restitution and attending a class or counseling, the case will be closed and the charges dismissed. If this occurs, you would not have a record of any conviction. If diversion is not an option in your case, you could always go back to the court once you complete the terms of your sentence and ask for your record to be destroyed or expunged. It is unlikely that this incident would affect your college application process. Be sure to read the language on any application carefully, so that you can answer truthfully. If the application asks about any prior “convictions” and your case is handled in juvenile court, you can answer “no” since you are “adjudicated” and not “convicted” in juvenile court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Scott
      Fri, 27 Aug 2010 at 05:45

      sorry, but i have a quick question. even though I was arrested and fingerprinted for shoplifting (a total of about 60 dollars), i can still have the charges dropped if I go through a diversion program or some sort of thing?
      Dear Scott: Yes, as long as diversion is an option in your case and you are offered this type of program by the court or the prosecutor’s office, then it’s possible for the charges to be dismissed upon successful completion of the program.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Scott
      Fri, 27 Aug 2010 at 06:13

      Sorry, my last question! And as for the arrest, does that mean if I go through a program, it wont show up, as if I was never arrested? Thanks!
      Dear Scott: If you go through a program, your arrest record may not be destroyed depending on the laws of your state. Although you would not have a record of any conviction, it’s possible that the arrest will remain on your record. When you go to court, you’ll have the opportunity to speak with a probation or court officer. Ask him or her about whether the arrest will remain on your record even if you successfully complete a diversion program.

      As for your other question about whether you can go to other Macy’s, the ban means that you are banned from all Macy’s. It’s not a good idea to risk getting arrested or cited for trespassing if you try to go to another Macy’s.
      Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Amy
      Fri, 27 Aug 2010 at 11:03

      Dear Judge Tom,

      My incident with shoplifting happened about last September in Oregon. I am in my late 20′s and currently having a background check for my future job. When I was caught, the store manager had me sign some papers and I was asked not to return to the store anymore. I wasn’t arrested, but I know that they had video of the event. I was never detained at all by loss prevention or law enforcement. I never was asked to pay a fine or any court date. I regret it everyday, and have never stolen since. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
      Dear Amy: Since you were never cited or had to appear in court, there is no record of the incident. You can tell any potential employers that you do not have a criminal record or a prior conviction at least for this incident. Don’t return to the store otherwise you could be cited and arrested for trespassing. We’re glad to hear that you learned from this incident. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Josh
      Sat, 28 Aug 2010 at 10:13

      My indecent was that 2 friends & i went to shoplift some items at Khols, my friends put the items in my backpack, as we were leaving the security guard brought me in the office & my friends got away, I’m 14 years old & i live in northern California, the officer arrest me, & i have to go to court, what will happen to me? i know i have to go to court & the judge will decide but what are my chances to go to college & going to juvenile hall? BTW it was a misdemeanor ($48.00)
      Thank you
      Dear Josh: Since this is your first offense you may be offered diversion. That means when you finish some community service, attend a class or counseling the case will be closed. This one incident won’t have any affect on future job or education plans. Good luck and hopefully you’ve learned from this.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sara
      Sun, 29 Aug 2010 at 10:51

      Hey it is me again and me and my friend were caught shoplifting in early May and I haven’t we haven’t heard anything from police people or the person who owns the shop were we stole from or from macys where we also stole. what most likely is going to happen?
      Dear Sara: It’s not unusual for a few months to pass before you hear anything. But you’ll soon be able to relax if you hear nothing at all. Consider this a lucky break this time and think twice before shoplifting again. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • lucy
      Sun, 29 Aug 2010 at 03:11

      if you were caught shoplifting at age 16. they sent me to the STAR program and i ompleted it. does it stay on my records? i live in the state of texas
      Dear Lucy: Your completion of the program may stay on record with the court or juvenile probation department. However, it shouldn’t have any affect on your employment or education plans in the future. If the STAR program was through the court, you could contact them and see if there’s a record or if you can apply to have the record cleared. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • jessie
      Mon, 30 Aug 2010 at 01:05

      i was caught shoplifting, im 17. they did not call the cops or talk about fees. they took the one 18$ shirt i stole because i didnt have enough money with me… i know it was wrong and not exceptable escuse, i should of just went back later after getting money. but anyways, they didnt call the police but made me wright down my information and give them my ID and asked what school i went to. They then had me call my mom and talked to her and let me go. They banned me from all of there stores. If i pay for something somewhere else and they ask for my identification with my debit card (to pay for items in differnt stores) will they see what i have done when they check my card or id? does the information of where i live and everything is just stored at the place i shoplifted and all of there stores?
      STEALING IS WRONG and i know that now its not worth it for a little 18$ shirt.
      Dear Jessie: The store may enter your information in their database so all of their other stores has the information. Since you were banned from the store, remember not to return to any of their stores or you could be charged with trespassing. Other businesses you go to shouldn’t have any record of this incident. Good to hear that you’ve learned from this experience. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jocelyn
      Mon, 30 Aug 2010 at 10:47

      I have court
      in a few days i stole undies $7.99 and got caught i also got arrested I’m 16 years old
      i want to know what am i expecting in court?
      Please Help!
      Dear Jocelyn: If this is your first offense, you can expect to be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine or attend a class the case will be closed. When you go to court the process will be explained to you by a court or probation officer. Diversion is usually offered one time so be sure not to give in to the temptation to shoplift again. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Travis
      Tue, 31 Aug 2010 at 12:02

      what happens if you arent caught shoplifting, and you know ther is absolutely no way they seen you do anything but they take your license plate number down without so much as uttering a word to you?
      Dear Travis: They may have seen you on camera or from a position in the store that you were unaware of. You may receive a letter in the mail requiring payment of a fine called a “civil demand.” If you did shoplift from the store, when you pay the fine the case will be closed. You might also receive a letter from the court advising you of a court hearing. Don’t miss this or a warrant may be issued for your arrest. At court you’ll have an opportunity to speak with a probation officer who will explain what happens now. On the other hand you may not hear anything further about this incident. If you did shoplift, don’t press your luck and do it again. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Missy
      Tue, 31 Aug 2010 at 10:30

      Hi,
      im 18 and live in Australia. i got caught stealing three paris of underwear valued at about 25 dollars and a necklace valued at about 13 dollars. This is the first time i have ever been charged with anything. i have a court date in two weeks, i was wondering what will be the fine cost or whatever that i may get? i googled Australian shoplifting and nothing is usefull.

      i need your help! please.
      Dear Missy: In the U.S., diversion programs are common for a first offense of shoplifting. These types of programs are also used in other countries and it’s likely that Australia has something similar. When you go to court, you’ll find out more about the possible penalties and what you are likely facing. Find out more about diversion programs in the U.S. and chances are, they are similar in Australia. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Cheyenne
      Wed, 01 Sep 2010 at 06:55

      Hi judge Tom, i asked earlier about the Sears $50 dollars thing, well i just got a mail and it said i have to pay $375, but at the bottom it says “the payment of any demand upon you does not prevent criminal prosecution under a related criminal statute provision. Payment of the amount demanded may not be used in any court proceedings by our client as an admission of liability. you might want to seek the advice of counsel regarding this.” What’s that supposed to mean? I might still have to go to court?
      Dear Cheyenne: Although charges may filed against even if you pay the “civil demand”, most stores choose not to press charges once this fine is paid. Stores have the ability to seek this civil fine from those who were caught shoplifting. If you choose to pay the fine on time, there’s a good chance that charges won’t be filed and you won’t have to go to court, however, this is not guaranteed. You could try contacting the court to see whether or not charges have been filed and whether you have an upcoming court date. If you don’t pay the civil demand, then it’s much more likely that you’ll have to go to court over this. Perhaps you could try talking this over with your parents for their advice. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • krystal
      Thu, 02 Sep 2010 at 12:31

      hi i’m 20 i got caught shoplifting $152 worth of clothes my record is clean and i’m wondering if this will be a felony or what will happen when i go to court??
      Dear Krystal: The offense will most likely be charged as a misdemeanor which is determined by the value of the items stolen. (Most states don’t charge these offenses as felonies unless the value of the itmes stolen are at least $250 or even higher depending on the state’s laws.) If this is your first offense, you may be offered a diversion program, which means that the charges would be dismissed upon successful completion of the program. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • sheree
      Thu, 02 Sep 2010 at 11:29

      hi, im am 19 years old and got caught stealing from my job. a guy from loss prevention came and talked to me in the back about what happend.He read all my information and said he sees i have a clean record, I told him the truth and he had me write a letter saying everything that i had told him,and also sign some papers agreeing to pay for what i took which was $127. i didnt have the money to pay for it that day but i have to meet back at the store friday with him to pay the money. he also said if i dont hear from him by the following monday that everything is all clear. Im afraid to go back up there because i dont know whats going to happen. will they arrest me if i go back up there? I live in ohio and will this be put on my record if they press charges on me? i also have been baned from the store. will i get kicked out of school because im in college? and also will i ever be able to get a job again?
      Dear Sheree: Since he has your information, which we assume means address and phone number, it would be best to return on Friday and pay the fine. If he wanted to involve the police he would have called them the day this happened. The store may decide not to press charges in which case you won’t have a record or anything to worry about as far as your education or employment. Make sure you comply with the ban from the store. Otherwise you could be charged with trespassing if you return. You might want to discuss this with your parents as well even though you’re an adult. Their advice could be useful in this situation. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • k
      Thu, 02 Sep 2010 at 01:26

      Hi I asked a question above under this same name.

      Today I got a flat tire, and my college police helped me change it. He took all my info, and license plate #’s so he could make a report. (for a tire change..wtf)

      I know I’m probably being paranoid..but is he going to look me up? I’m still worried about my stealing incident, and though it’s just 1 week shy of being 2 months since that incident..and I haven’t received anything..I’m still scared they got my license plate. So my 1st question is- Would he look me up for some reason with the info he took? and 2. Would it show that my license plate # was searched for if the store ever even got my license plates?

      also, he’s college police, he wouldn’t interact with city police would he? like they’re 2 separate things? but he did ask me if (on my license) that was my correct address. why would he ask that? am i going to get a paper in the mail for getting a flat tire?!
      Dear K: As you know, anything is possible. The officer could run your license through a database but it’s unlikely there will be a connection with the store incident. Depending on the laws in your state, campus police have similar authority to investigate crimes, make arrests, etc. As school police their primary responsibility is campus safety and enforcement of school rules and traffic laws. You may still receive notice in the mail about the earlier incident. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Derek
      Sun, 05 Sep 2010 at 11:16

      hey. so i stole something and i got home. will they come after me?
      Dear Derek: You may get a visit from the police if the store was able to identify you from personal observation by the clerk or owner or if a video was taken of the incident. You may be given a ticket or notice to appear in court where the process will be explained to you. Good luck and think twice before breaking the law again. You may have gotten lucky this time but luck runs out.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • David
      Tue, 07 Sep 2010 at 11:30

      Hello Sir,
      This happened in Duane Reade. I entered the store to buy a sun screen and a box of shoe polish kit. As I wanted to send this in postal, I tried by putting the sun screen in the box and checked if it fits right. Then I went to the next isle looking for some OTC tablets and did some walk across the isles. As I wanted to get additional stuff and I didn’t have the shopping bag, I put my items in the bag I carried in. Then when I take the item out while going for billing, everything inside falls in my bag. Due to laziness, I just took the box and the sun screen and was moving towards the cashier, now some LP person approached me and accused me of shoplifting and when I try to explain he branded particular community of people (that I belong) that you are all like that. You does something like this then give such explanations. Then he take me to the manager and took couple of pic after asking me to hold the items. Then he asked me for ID, as I was already scared, I told him I don’t hv one. But he tapped on my purse in the pant pocket and told me to take it out. He pulled the licence from me and took down my info. When I asked to explain him what is going to happen, he told that I (he) am not here to talk to you. Just give me the information. Then I started shouting to call the cops. He didn’t respond. Then he asked me to sign that store form. I refused. Then he threatened me that I have to stay in the store until I signed the form and this form is only for the store records and nothing will happen. As I had another appointment for which I was already late, I just signed the form and left the store thinking that nothing will happen. But after I did some search in the internet, I understood that there is a possibilty for charges / fines. So I called the store back and asked if there will be any charges / fine. Now he told me to wait for 2 to 3 weeks to see if there is any action though he clearly told in the store there won’t be any charges / fine. Now I lost my sleep and couldn’t concentrate on work. What will happen now? I work for a very reputed organization and never been accused of anything. Is there a way for me to sue the store or LP? What are my chances?
      Dear David: There are several possible outcomes here. You may receive a letter from the store requesting payment of a fine. It could take a month or two before the letter comes. Usually, once the fine is paid the case is closed. You could also receive a notice from a court to appear at a hearing. Don’t miss the hearing or a warrant could be issued for your arrest. Once in court, the process will be explained to you. You may be offered diversion which means after you finish some community service, pay a fine or attend a class the case is closed without an official record. As far as any remedies you may have against the store or Loss Prevention person, you’ll have to discuss that with a local lawyer. Askthejudge.info does not provide legal advice to adults or teens. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Yolonda
      Tue, 07 Sep 2010 at 09:56

      I have a question, I am 35 yrs old and I worked at Kmart in 2000 and got arrested, the charge was receiving stolen property, I got probation and was told it would be a misdeamenor if I completed probation… A year later, I worked at Walmart and basically did the same thing (Being Stupid). This time I did a little jail time and now I have 2 felonies on my record. Is it possible I can get my record cleared or expunged, I can’t find employment because of my record…What can I do? It’s now 2010 and nothing’s been added to my record in over seven years. What would you suggest? Thank you
      Dear Yolonda: Askthejudge.info is an educational website for and about teenagers and the law. We do not provide legal advice to adults or teens. We suggest you consult a criminal defense attorney in your area. You may be able to obtain a free consultation for approximately 30 minutes. Ask about this when you call. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Paul
      Wed, 08 Sep 2010 at 08:19

      Hi Judge, I am 16 years old and I got caught stealing from Walmart. I had 3 loss pevention officers following me and I didn’t notice execpt for one. But the total of my stealing was $381.77. I hope only getting community service and fines or something, but I don’t want to pay alot… I don’t have a shoplifting lawyer, only a public defender. But they didn’t send anything in the mail. My brother called them and he ask them when it is coming in, they told him 1 to 2 months. This is my first offesne on my record so far. But I don’t know what are my punishments, I don’t think it would be misdemeanor, I would say a felony charge because its over $250 like you said in your last replys to people. So I would really like for you to reply.
      Dear Paul: Depending on the specific laws of your state, you may be facing felony charges since the amount is over $250 and you’ve been appointed a public defender, who is your lawyer. Since this is your first offense, you may be facing probation with community serivce and/or a class and payment of a fine. Talk this over with your lawyer since he/she will be able to tell you the possible outcomes of your case. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • justin
      Wed, 08 Sep 2010 at 06:15

      A couple of weeks ago i was caught shoplifting a 30 dollar item form sears. Yesterday i got a civil claim letter asking for 279 dollars! This is outrageous. I was wondering if i could sue them for extortion or attempted extorsion. I am a minor in the state of IL
      Dear Justin: The store is probably thinking the same thing about your conduct – that it’s outrageous for you to steal from them which is why they are asking for such a high civil fine. Although you could always file a lawsuit, you would not have any real claim against the store since all states have laws that allow stores to request these “civil demands” from shoplifters. If you pay the fine, it may be the end of the matter and you would not have to go to court. If you don’t pay the fine, you may receive a notice in the mail to appear in court. The possible consequences and penalties for shoplifting always outweigh any benefit from getting away with it, so think it through before making an impulsive move. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • torrey
      Thu, 09 Sep 2010 at 02:29

      hey im 19 and last year back in december me and two of my friends got caught shoplifting at walmart in bluefield va and anything over 250$ there is a felony and we had stole 3 go phones and the value total was a little over 300 dollars the phones were 98.88 each and this is my first time ever going to jail my two friends are 16 and 17 but they let them go their parents came and got them from the police department but then theyve turned my case over to the grand jury but i missed court and ive just recently found out my name was in the indictment papers…what happens when you get indicted and what do you think theyll do since its my first offense they havent contacted me since i missed my court date and im kinda scared to contact them or go to court because im scared that theyll give me time but im thinking that itll probably be probhation since its my first offense

      do you think theyll drop the charge to a misdemeanor and give me probhation and now im wanting to get a job because ive also found out that my girlfriend is pregnant but im scared that if i get a job then theyll find my location and come and arrest me or something im also taking my ged classes almost finished with them and soon planning on goin to college and my case is also against the common wealth of virginia
      Dear Torrey: Since this is your first offensde, there’s a good chance you’ll be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine or attend a class the case will be closed. You could call the court and ask how to proceed since you missed the first hearing. You could also call the public defender’s office and ask if they’ve been appointed to represent you. If they are appointed you can speak with your lawyer about what you do next. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • torrey
      Thu, 09 Sep 2010 at 02:47

      sorry for writing so much lol but i also wanted to kno is there any way possible that they will work something out with me to where i can pay for the merchandise but i dont realy see how they can charge us with shoplifting when we hadnt even made it out of the door because the security guy stopped us before we even got to the door and took us to the office and took pictures n we had to fill out some forms
      Dear Torrey: Explain what happened to your lawyer or the judge when you go to court. Under the shoplifting law in your state it’s possible that you didn’t have to leave the store to have committed the crime. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Paul
      Thu, 09 Sep 2010 at 07:24

      Hi Judge, I am 16 years old and I got caught stealing from Walmart. I had 3 loss pevention officers following me and I didn’t notice execpt for one. But the total of my stealing was $381.77. I hope only getting community service and fines or something, but I don’t want to pay alot… I don’t have a shoplifting lawyer, only a public defender. But they didn’t send anything in the mail. My brother called them and he ask them when it is coming in, they told him 1 to 2 months. This is my first offesne on my record so far. But I don’t know what are my punishments, I don’t think it would be misdemeanor, I would say a felony charge because its over $250 like you said in your last replys to people. So I would really like for you to reply.

      Ok… Thanks judge. But In Louisiana, they don’t have clasess down here and I keep reading on forums or some gosh darn place that the felony charge of Louisiana is $100 Bucks. I was mostly aimming for Fines and community service… But not probaition… I am just so scared, because I am 16 in college and I know this is going to freak my future.

      Hi, its Paul again… So would I be facing like 2 years in Community service or something? Because I am just super scared and I pray everyday on this.
      Dear Paul: The Public Defender you mentioned is your lawyer in this case. You need to call him or her and ask about your concerns. Community service is usually a set number of hours to complete and you’re given enough time to get them done – for example, a few months. There are online shoplifting classes that you might be able to take.You will receive notice in the mail about your hearing – don’t miss it or the court may issue a warrant for your arrest. This one incident shouldn’t affect your future education or employment plans. Good luck.
      [This is information onlky - not legal advice].

    • Alice
      Sat, 11 Sep 2010 at 04:14

      Hello. Yesterday I got nervous and panicked about being pregnany , so I went to Cub foods and went to the bathroom and used a pregnancy test then stuffed the box in the garbage. While me and my friend were leaving the cub foods parking lot we got pulled over and the police asked if we had shoplifted anything. I immediately fessed up and said I had taken a pregnancy test in the bathroom and threw away the box without paying for it. The cop called my parents and said he will give me a court date. This is my 1st offense and I am 17 in MN. What will happen to me most likely? On my college application where it says am I a juvenile offense should I say yes?
      Dear Alice: Since this is your first offense and you’re a minor, you’ll probably be offered diversion. That means when you finish some community service, pay a fine or attend a class the case will be closed. When you go to court, the process will be explained to you. This one incident shouldn’t affect your future plans for education or employment. Read the questions on job and college applications very carefully. If you’re asked, for example, if you’ve been convicted of any crime and you complete the diversion program, you can answer “no.” Discuss the questions that you’re not sure about with your parents. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Connor
      Sat, 11 Sep 2010 at 08:16

      So my friend got caught shoplifting today from a TJ maxx in minnesota but he lives in wisconsin and just recently turned 17. he took two bottles of cologne and i have no idea what the price on those was but i am fairly confident it was less than $50. what kind of charges would he be facing?
      Dear Connor: The likely charge would be for shoplifting. If the store has identifying information and how to contact him in Wisconsin, he may receive a notice in the mail about a court hearing. He would be required to appear or risk the issuance of an arrest warrant. On the other hand, he may have gotten lucky this time and won’t hear anything further about this incident. Thanks for asking.
      [This is information only, not legal advice].

    • Elena
      Sun, 12 Sep 2010 at 12:49

      Hey, im 15 and i got caught stealing a mascara, eyeliner and two eyeshadows from walmart. I cooperated with them and they didnt call the police. This is the fist time ive done it. I live in texas, so what would be the consequences? how much will we need to pay?
      Dear Elena: Since the police weren’t called and this is your first offense, you can expect a letter from the store requiring payment of a fine. It’s called a “civil demand” and when paid usually ends the case. The amount of the fine depends on your state laws about shoplifting and the total value of the items taken. It can run into several hundred dollars. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jenna
      Sun, 12 Sep 2010 at 07:21

      I am 18 years old and i got caught shoplifting from urban outfitters. the merchandise amounted to $90, they kept me in the back of the store and the cops came, checked my record which was clean. and they let me go with a ticket for my court date. Do i have to let my parents know? Since you’re an adult, that is your decision whether to tell your parents or not. Is it vital that i take a lawyer? That is your decision. You can discuss it with the court officer you’ll meet with when you go to court. You may not necessarily need one if, for example, you are offered and agree to a diversion program. What do you think my punishment will be?If you participate in diversion you’ll have to complete some community service, pay a fine or attend a class in return for dismissal of the charge. How can i get it expunged so it does not show up on my job applications in the future?The court officer will explain expungement to you. You may have to wait a period of time before you’re eligible to apply. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • serenity barrientes
      Sun, 12 Sep 2010 at 08:46

      hello judge ? am 16 , me and my friend got caught shoplifting. The amount that we stoled was about $51.00 . This was the first time we’ve Ever gotten caught they told us we would get a letter in 2 weeks , and its beeen over 3 maybe 4 . we’ve called alot of times to check up but still no response ? what will they do to us ?.,.
      Dear Serenity: Sometimes it takes a month or two before receive the letter from the store. It will ask you to pay a fine called a “civil demand” that, once paid, the case will be closed. Be patient. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Ashley
      Sun, 12 Sep 2010 at 09:22

      Hello, my Name is Ashley and a few months ago I was caught stealing at Walmart, at the age of 17, in ILLINOIS. I was caught stealing no more than $20. So they asked for my name, address, and number. So i gave them all my info. They said I was going to get a letter in the mail. I am now 18 and I just got my final notice in the mail from an attorney at law. I have not responded to them or paid my fine of $250, I have 7 days to respond..

      What happens if I refuse to respond?
      Would this be on my record? (even if no police were involved, and all they have is my name and address)
      Would I have problems getting a job?

      Please help me. preferably before these seven days.
      THANK YOU FOR YOU’R TIME. :)
      -Ashley.
      Dear Ashley: If you refuse to pay oftentimes the store decides to press charges. You would receive a notice in the mail to appear in court. Now that you’re an adult this could end up on your record which may have an affect on your future. After a period of time you could apply to the court for an expungement of your record. You could also be offered diversion and then apply for a clear record upon completion. It might be best to end this incident as soon as possible by paying the fine from the store, but it’s your decision. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • paulie
      Mon, 13 Sep 2010 at 09:49

      Im 26 (new york) and I was caught shoplifting at macys, it was some jewelery about 125$, and i had to go into a back room, he got my info such as my first and last name, my adress and he looked at my license card and Scc number, i told him the truth that i hadn’t stolen anything before and that it was just a stupid dare. They call the police and i went arrested i pay a fine and i also pay macy 500$ i went to court with my lawyer and he told me that after six month this incident will not appear in my record its been 9 month already, but today i went to get a job and the aplication said that if i been arrested for a crime and i said no but they going take my finger print will this incident appear in my record when they take my fingers print or not?? please help me
      Dear Paulie: The incident may appear on your record. We suggest that you contact your lawyer and ask him how to go about clearing your record. There may be a simple, online form at the court that you can file. It usually doesn’t require an attorney to do this. The court may have a self-help center with the forms available to the public. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Ashley
      Mon, 13 Sep 2010 at 12:50

      Ashley Sun, 12 Sep 2010 at 09:22
      Hello, my Name is Ashley and a few months ago I was caught stealing at Walmart, at the age of 17, in ILLINOIS. I was caught stealing no more than $20. So they asked for my name, address, and number. So i gave them all my info. They said I was going to get a letter in the mail. I am now 18 and I just got my final notice in the mail from an attorney at law. I have not responded to them or paid my fine of $250, I have 7 days to respond..
      What happens if I refuse to respond?
      Would this be on my record? (even if no police were involved, and all they have is my name and address)
      Would I have problems getting a job?
      Please help me. preferably before these seven days.
      THANK YOU FOR YOU’R TIME.
      -Ashley.
      Dear Ashley: If you refuse to pay the fine, the store may decide to press charges. You would receive a notice in the mail to appear in court. Now that you’re an adult this could end up on your record which may have an affect on your future. After a period of time you could apply to the court for an expungement of your record. You could also be offered diversion and then apply for a clear record upon completion. It might be best to end this incident as soon as possible by paying the fine from the store, but it’s your decision. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

      Hey but I don’t understand, they have no background info on me, how can they put it in my record?

      What if I Just move, they don’t know that.
      All they would have is my name and adress..?
      & I COULD HAVE given them false info, but i didn’t…i just don’t understand..

      They have nothing on me, just a name, that prob, everyone has, and an adress.
      NONE OF THIS MAKES SENSE TO ME.
      Dear Ashley: If the store’s civil fine remains unpaid, they may decide to refer this incident to the local prosecutor and a shoplifting charge could be filed against you. If that happens, if you plead guilty or are found guilty by the court, you would have a criminal record as an adult. It is possible to find you and serve the court papers on you since they have your name and address. It is unlikely that any of this will happen for an item worth $20 but it is always a possibility. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Alice
      Mon, 13 Sep 2010 at 09:22

      Since Im a Minor should I look to get this expunged? Will diversion erase this from my record?
      Dear Alice: By completing diversion successfully, you won’t have a record. You can check with the court afterwards and see if anything exist regarding this incident that would be available to the public. Even if you ended up with a record by pleading guilty or being found guilty by the court, after a period of time you can apply to the court to expunge your record. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sam
      Tue, 14 Sep 2010 at 12:38

      So my cousin got caught for shoplifting. It was an honest mistake but he agreed he did it. He was really calm and agreed to everything they said. Signed the papers and left. There is a fine of $150 dollars. Now he cannot enter any walmart or Sams club. He wants to go back tomorrow and talk to the managers about it. Is this a good idea?
      Also, After paying the fine, can he enter the store?
      Dear Sam: It is not a good idea for him to return to the store after he’s been banned. Depending on your state’s laws he could be charged with trespassing if he returns while the ban is in place. He could call the store and speak with the manager or loss prevention person. Paying the fine does not lift the ban unless that was what he was told by the store employee. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • lauren1120
      Tue, 14 Sep 2010 at 10:18

      Ok this occur in new york its was a macys store the value was 125 they call the police and i paid 500 fine i went to the court and the judge send me for shoplift class after that they returned me 500 fine and thats it my lawyer said that this incident will no appear in my record afer six month but some people tell me that this its no true iam cufuse cause i wet for a job and they going to take my finger print iam afraid that this appear in my record the case was dismissed but will this still be a problem applying for this job if they going to take my finger print??
      Dear Lauren: If your lawyer and the court told you there wouldn’t be a record, you can relax and accept their word for it. It sounds like you completed a diversion program and your case was dismissed for complying with the terms you were given. If you’re losing sleep over this, you can contact the court you went to and ask if you have a record. You can also double-check with your lawyer. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • joseph
      Tue, 14 Sep 2010 at 12:39

      i am applying for a school job in new york and they will do a fingerprint background check, will a dismissed shoplift case prevent me from that job opportunity?? Please help
      Dear Joseph: The answer depends on a number of factors: your current age, your age at the time of the incident, whether a record even exists, and whether you completed a diversion program in exchange for dismissal, not to mention the applicable laws of your state. It’s not likely the shoplifting will affect your future employment opportunities if it’s at least a few years ago and you were a minor. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kell
      Tue, 14 Sep 2010 at 05:01

      Hi, I’m 15 and I got caught shoplifting at Dillard’s and I have court tomorrow. Will they drug test? I know I’m clean, but my friend got caught with me and she on the other hand is not so clean.
      Dear Kell: In most shoplifting cases, drug tests are not ordered unless the judge has reason to believe that you’re involved with drugs. The item or items taken may also be indicative of drug use such as shoplifting cigarette rolling papers, or products believed to prevent someone from testing positive [Urin-Luck, etc]. Your physical appearance and speech could also tip off the court that drugs have been used recently. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • joseph
      Tue, 14 Sep 2010 at 07:22

      this happened like 10 month ago only and i was 26 and yes i did the division program so they dismissed my case will this show up in record because i wasn’t minor at tha time and is not been a long time of the incident ??
      Dear Joseph: One of the purposes of diversion is the avoidance of a record. Anything is possible but it’s not likely this will show up in a records check. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • venisa
      Wed, 15 Sep 2010 at 02:38

      Hello,im from michigan i caught shoplifting at birlington coat factory i have clean recoed i never had and problem it was by mistakes i went to the fitting room and my kid was holding mu purse till i try something on during that time my kid was looking for a change to get candy from the candy machine and she put the stuff i told her to keep it with her till i done in my purse and when i done she gave me the purse back and i forgot to ask for the stuff i went after to get deffirent size of the piece i tried on and go to the cashier then i figured out thats something missing i put the shirts somewhere to call my kid from the candy machine the security told me im not alowed to go i told him im not leaving just wanna call my kid he refused and ask me to open my purse , when i did i figured that the stuff its in my purse the police came and talk to me and gave me a ticket with a misd, and told me to call the court btw 3 to 14 days i put a lawyer and im realy confused and stressed cuz it never happened to me b4 and i never got in trouble before please tell me if theres any thing will show on my record or jail time ,i can pay the fine and i learned a lesson that to teatch my kids more and tell them they not alowed to put or touch any thing b4 i pay for it
      Dear Venisa: Since this is your first offense, you may be offered a diversion program. This means that upon successful completion of the program, the case would be closed and the charges dismissed. It’s unlikely that you would receive any jail time for a first offense. Talk your concerns over with your attorney as he/she will be able to provide advice about your options. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • venisa
      Wed, 15 Sep 2010 at 07:58

      Sorry Mr judge i have 1 more question how they gonna figure out that my kids put the stuff if in the fitting rooms theres no camera and is that alowed to put camera in the fitting rooms? and i forgot to tell that when they open my purse they took stuff already mine like hairband for the kids i used i baught them from their store but not at the same day the problem happen like 2 weeks ago,Does they have the right to open my purse before i go to cashier or to go out of the store?
      Dear Venisa: Explain all of this to your lawyer. He/she knows the law that applies to your case and can advise you accordingly. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Chelsea
      Fri, 17 Sep 2010 at 11:38

      A few days ago i got caught shop lifting in Maryland at lord and taylor. the items in total were under $100 dollars. I gave them back the items (none were damaged) and gave them my license aka name & address. They did not press charges but banned me from any lord and taylor for 2 years and told me that in MD the law is they can fine me twice the amount i stole. When i asked how do i pay this fine they said i could pay now or later. i said now and they took me to the cash register but my card was denied then they told me i could pay part of it today and the rest at a later date i said id like to pay in full and how should i do that they said to call them and come in the store to pay asap. if i don’t pay will i get a fine in the mail? since there were no police involved can they put a warrant out for arrest? are there any statue of limitations on cases like this in MD?
      Dear Chelsea: Yes, if you don’t pay the fine, you may receive a civil demand letter in the mail requesting payment of the fine. A warrant will not be issued, but the store could turn over your information to the police in which case you may receive a notice in the mail to appear in court. Every state has a statute of limitations for all offenses. Since the amount you stole was less than $100, you most likely would be facing misdemeanor charges. Most states have a 6 months to one year statute of limitations for misdemeanors. If you’re willing to admit the offense and return to the store to pay the fine, that most likely would be the end of the matter. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • KevinTran
      Sat, 18 Sep 2010 at 02:05

      Hello, I am asking for my girlfriend. We are located in California and she just got caught shoplifting. It was around $350 worth of items. She was playing stupid for everything, lied about her name, age, just everything. She is in jail right now and I was wondering whats going to happen to her. Police is indeed involved. Today is Friday and they said she wont be out till Monday. Court on Tuesday. What should she expect in court.. and how to get it off her records.. Thank you in advance for answering. This would be her first offense too.
      Dear Kevin: Since this is her first offense, she can expect to be offered what is called “diversion.” http://www.askthejudge.info/what-does-diversion-mean/6735/
      Once she completes the terms of diversion (work hours, a fine, or a class) the case will be dismissed and she won’t have a record. It’s also possible that she may be given time served since she spent the weekend in jail. Good luck. Hopefully she’s learned from this experience.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • venisa
      Sat, 18 Sep 2010 at 08:25

      Hello, just wanna to ask you please if it was for the first time offense will be an my record or no? and can i pay fine instead the community services.
      Dear Venisa: If you end up with a record, after a period of time you can apply to have it expunged. Ask about this when you go to court. However, if you go through a diversion program, you won’t have a record to worry about. Whether you can pay a fine rather than complete community service is up to the court – either the probation officer or the judge. Don’t expect it, however, because work hours are meant to make a contribution to the community and be a lesson to curtail future misbehavior. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • KevinTran
      Sat, 18 Sep 2010 at 10:11

      Hello again, so my girlfriend got off this morning. She has a court date on Nov. 2. Does she have to go to court in order to do the diversion? Or is this her first hearing.. Thank you again.
      Dear Kevin: Yes she needs to appear at the hearing or risk the issuanxce of an arrest warrant for not showing up. The diversion program will be explained to her then if it’s available in this case. Otherwise the court process will be reviewed with her and she’ll decide how she wants to proceed, Good luck.
      [This is information noly - not legal advice].

    • venisa
      Sat, 18 Sep 2010 at 11:17

      Sorry, i did not understand wich one better to not get any criminal record pay money or take the comunity service pls help me
      Dear Venisa: We can’t advise you about what to do. When everything is explained to you at court, then you must decide what’s best for you. If you complete the diversion program, you won’t have a record. If you don’t and the court finds you guilty, you’ll have a record but one that you can apply to have cleared after a period of time. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • venisa
      Sat, 18 Sep 2010 at 11:52

      Yeah, theres no proof because my kids put the stuff in my purse in the fitting room but when we left the fitting i forgot to ask them for the stuff and i was busy trying to find biger size for me but when we left the fitting room thier hands were empty and im the only 1 was holding 1 piece the piece i entered to the fitting room so thats why they ask me to open my purse and my kids were already out of the store getting the candy from the candy machine i told the security im not leaving just wanna call the kids cuz i want to go to the cashier and i did not find the stuff so he did not let me leave to call them and asked me to open my purse
      Dear Venisa: When you go to court explain all of this to the court officer you’ll meet with and the judge. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice]

    • christine
      Sun, 19 Sep 2010 at 02:49

      I just turned 18 fifteen days ago & got caught stealing $380 worth & got arrested. Went to prison/jail for the night. Talked to this guy that appointed me my court date on Nov 2 and let me go instead of holding me til this day. I’m guessing he was the decision maker/judge of the prison? Now that I know my court date, when should I expect to talk to my appointed attorney? (I should have one from the county appointed for me right?) I’m clueless to who they are and when I have to meet them. Do you think that they will certainly give me diversion b/c it was my first time offense?
      Dear Christine: As you know, there are no certainties in life. So as far as diversion there’s a good chance it will be offered to you but no guarantees. Your lawyer will contact you before the hearing. If you don’t hear from him/her, you’ll meet at the time of the hearing. You could call the public defender’s office and ask who it is or private counsel if that’s who has been appointed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jessica
      Mon, 20 Sep 2010 at 08:50

      I worked as a retail employee, i dont know what came over at the time of the incident i am about to tell you. I went to work one day and a coworker of mine gave me a bag that supposely a customer left with a merchandise (candy) and less than $10 in the bag. I worked my normal hours and took that purchase with me, i thought to myself this isnt valuable so ill take it with me. by the way the custormer didnt leave his purchase in the store. someone else found it outside the store and brought it in the store since the bag has the store logo. So the next day i come in i work four hours and then im cited to the loss prevention office and long story short: i now have a case with loss prevention i payed what i took…my question is will that case now go on my record. They never fired me from the job i just got suspended for a couple of weeks. But i didnt go back when i got the ok to do so. I didnt have the guts to go back after what i did. again will that be on my record if I wanted to get a new job in retail?? THANK YOU!
      Dear Jessica: Since the police weren’t involved and you didn’t have to go to court, you don’t have an official record. The only record that may exist is with the store for their own purposes. You weren’t charged with shoplifting, cited in to court or convicted of anything. This one incident shouldn’t affect future job applications or education opportunities. Hopefully you’ve learned from this. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • shannon
      Mon, 20 Sep 2010 at 10:44

      20 years ago in the state of Oklahoma when I was 18, a friend and I did get caught shoplifting. If I remember correctly it was for merchandise over $50. I am pretty sure it was considered a felony since being over $50. We did get arrested, posted bail and had to do community service and I did have a probation officer for a short time. (remember seeing officer 2 times) My question is…. is that still on my record? I am volunteering at my sons elementary school and that requires a background check and thumb print. On the paper I had to fill out it asked if I have been convicted of a felony. I said no because I couldnt quite remember if it was considered a felony or not. Pretty sure it is but dont know if it will even show. It was my first and only trouble I have ever had with the law and a little embarrassing. I would love to not have to tell the school about it if possible, but do not want to lose any chances of volunteering at the school.
      Dear Shannon: Since you don’t remember if it was a felony or not, it might be best to be up front with it. The background check may disclose it and the opportunity to volunteer at the school will be lost. After twenty years with no further involvement with the police or courts, this single incident shouldn’t affect your application with the school. If they’re concerned about it you can explain the circumstances and why you said no. That may be better than remaining silent and then having to explain yourself if it shows up on the records check. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • lenae
      Mon, 20 Sep 2010 at 01:08

      I am 20 years old.I got caught stealing some earrings worth $20, it was my first time. i never should have done that. What would be my punishment, In the state of Ks?
      Dear Lenae: Since this is your first offense you can expect to be offered “diversion.”
      Once you finish the terms of diversion the case will be closed. You could also Google “Kansas shoplifting penalties” for detailed information about the court process and consequences. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kim.
      Mon, 20 Sep 2010 at 05:31

      Hello there. I’m 17. So, in August I was caught shoplifting at H&M. I received a ticket. The cop named it a misdemeanor because I told him that it wasn’t the first time I shoplifted. He was going to take me to the juvenile hall but, I convinced him to let me go because I was completely truthful with him. Honestly, I’m really afraid because about 5 years ago I received a shoplifting ticket. Will that show up on my case when I go to court? What can I expect when I go to court? I’m afraid to go to court because I read somewhere that I can spend 6 months in juvenile hall. If that’s the case I’d rather not go to court at all! This is my senior year and I don’t want this to mess up my chance of graduating.
      Dear Kim: Since your first offense was five years ago and you’re still a minor, it’s unlikely that you’ll receive any jail time. Every court in every state differs on how they handle these cases but generally you could expect to be offered diversion after which the case is closed. Don’t miss court or things will definitely get worse. The judge could issue a n arrest warrant or the charge could be held over until you turn 18 and then you’re facing adult sentencing for the same offense. When you go to court ask the person you’ll meet with and the process will be explained to you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Law Abiding Citizen
      Mon, 20 Sep 2010 at 10:46

      Hello Judge I was caught shoplifting at wal mart in TX it was a 60$ game and was arrested and got released 4 hours later with a PR BOND and this happened on May 5th and this is my first offense and im 18 and went to court 2 times first time for to get a court appointed attorney second time cuz it was suppost to be an arraigment and my attorney didn’t show up and now im awaiting for my 3rd one in October and i just got mailed a Civil Penalty Release and was wondering if i would still need to go to court?? :D
      Dear Damacio: Yes, you still need to go to court. The letter from the store is what’s called a “civil demand” notice. Once you pay the fine, the store will send you a release. Many states authorize stores to impose a civil fine in shoplifting cases. This is separate from the criminal process for committing the crime of shoplifting. Discuss this with your lawyer who will advise you on how to proceed. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kristina
      Tue, 21 Sep 2010 at 09:21

      Hi judge I was caught stealing from Wal-Mart 3 days ago and was released with a bail bond and it was am laptop i brought a hammer and gently broke the glass and ran the 4 LP’s were chasing me and they caught me and called the Sheriff and got arrested and im 21 this is my 6th offense i have 3 felonies for violent crimes and 2 misdemeanors for stealing what will happen to me sir im sorry :(
      Dear Kristina: With your record it’s a possibility this time you’ll receive some time in jail. You’re probably familiar with the court process. You’ll be appointed a lawyer if you don’t hire your own and the court will decide the penalty. You know you have the right to plead not guilty and make the state prove you committed this offense. Discuss the case with your lawyer. Maybe it’s time to think seriously about your future and how you want to spend it – free or incarcerated. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Tina
      Wed, 22 Sep 2010 at 10:32

      Hello, when I was 18 my friends and I were caught shoplifting. The police came and hand cuffed us and took us down to the station. They took our pictures but they didn’t read us our rights or take our finger prints. We didn’t spend any time in jail but we had to be in court on the following Monday. It was a first time offense for all of us and we were all given 50 hours of community service, which we completed. My questions are do we have a conviction on our records and when applying for a job do I put yes or no when asked have I ever plead guilty or been convicted to a misdemeanor.
      Dear Tina: If you appeared before a judge and admitted the shoplifting, you may have a record with the court. However, if you only met with a court or probation officer, signed some papers and completed your work hours, you may not have an official court record that needs to be reported. It sounds like you may have completed a diversion program that prevents you from having a conviction for the shoplifting. You could call the court you were in and ask if they have anything on you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • lyn
      Wed, 22 Sep 2010 at 07:32

      so i got caught shoplifting about $3.00 worth of merchandise from a rite aide in california. im 19. no cops were called. they said it would stay in rite aide only. i would be banned for a year and have a fine sent in the mail, but thats it… is this true? will it not go on my record and if i pay will it just go away?
      Dear Lyn: You got lucky this time. It is true that stores may choose not to prosecute a shoplifter and impose a civil fine instead. It is called a “civil demand” and once you receive the letter from the store and pay the fine the case is closed. The store will keep its own record in the event you return to the store and shoplift again. Also don’t return to the store while you’re banned. Otherwise you can be charged with trespassing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Mohammad
      Thu, 23 Sep 2010 at 12:16

      Hi,
      Currently I am in a probation period due my silly shoplifting act. I am looking for jobs and some of them asked me if I had any records? At one place I found a term called “suspended imposition of sentence”. What does it mean? Should I say “NO” ? How do companies search for your criminal record. Do they always look for your records? The job I am applying for is in Texas and my shoplifting act happed at Tulsa, Oklahoma. Please help me out in this issue. Thanks a lot.
      Dear Mohammad: We can’t tell you what to answer or report. We suggest you read the questions very carefully because the words used on applications are important. Depending on how your case was handled, you may not have been convicted of shoplifting. You may have completed a diversion program which means you probably weren’t found guilty by a court and your case was dismissed after you finished the terms of diversion. Companies use different services to do background checks or go through the police departments. Not all companies conduct criminal checks. Good luck in your job search.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

      Mohammad

    • Gabby
      Thu, 23 Sep 2010 at 06:29

      Hi so me and my friend got cought stealing at sears. The day before we got cought we stole a pair of shorts and i stole a shirt, and the next day they cought us with everything in the bag. We connfessed to it all and we were completly honest. We have court this following monday. I know that the stuff wasnt over 200$ i am 14 years old. Whats going to happen to us?
      Dear Gabby: If this is your first offense you can expect to be offered “diversion.” That means when you complete some community service, attend a class or counseling, or pay a fine the case will be closed. You won’t have a record but you will if you shoplift again. The process will be explained to you when you go to court. Don’t miss your hearing or the court can issue an arrest warrant. We hope you’ve learned from this experience. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Andrew
      Sun, 26 Sep 2010 at 09:06

      i was caught shoplifting before but the cop took down some information and let me go, i was let go and only charged by the store with some civil stuff so i have to pay around 600 dollars and the second time i was caught the police officer gave me a note that said “to a person not yet charged with an offence” and i am to appear in court what is going to happen to me?
      Dear Andrew: Since this is your first time having to appear in court for shoplifting, you may be offered a diversion program. This means that upon successful completion of community service and a class or counseling, the case would be closed and the charges dismissed. Remember that the penalties will continue to increase for additional offenses, so we hope you’ve learned from this incident. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Maria
      Sun, 26 Sep 2010 at 02:19

      Dear Judge,
      Me and my friend got caught shoplifting at target yesterday, and they are charging us with a felony charge for our first offense. if we have shoplifted there before and they never sent us anything can they charge for our past or just what they caught us for? i live in california if that helps, and we are both over 18
      Dear Maria: When you receive the paperwork from the court or prosecutor’s office you’ll see exactly what you’re charged with. The charges may include an incident from the past as long as it’s within your state’s statute of limitations. That means charges can be filed up to a year or two after an incident in misdemeanor cases and longer if a felony. You have to check your state laws about the length of time for the individual crime. The felony may be based on the value of the items taken. Shoplifting may be a felony offense if the value exceeds $250, for example, or some similar amount. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Molly
      Mon, 27 Sep 2010 at 05:02

      In the summer of 2009, me and my friend(i was 16 and she was 17) got caught shoplifting. 50$ worth of items from Kmart. We gave the stuff back but the store called the police and they took us to the station. We just sat there waiting for my mom to come get us. They said we may go to court. SO much time has passed and I have recently moved to another state. NOW my friend called me last week and she had to go to a hearing. My friend said they just told her not to do it again basically and that was it! The juvenile case handler said i need to contact them but my friend said she didn’t have the number! I had no idea about the hearing, no mail or call! Will i go to jail for that? How was i supposed to know? I’m so worried, i’m pregnant and due very soon! I have enough problems already.
      Dear Molly: It is extremely unlikely that you are facing jail for this incident. Also, it’s possible that charges were never filed against you and that you never had a court date. Google the name of the court where your friend had to appear for the phone number. Explain to the person that you moved out of state and never received a notice to appear in court. Just be sure to contact the court and explain your circumstances and it will work out. Best of luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • jamelia
      Wed, 29 Sep 2010 at 06:38

      my mom was caught stealing from kmar and they took us to a back room and they told us to empty our pockets i only took 2 pairs of earings but she took more i believe it was about 106$ worth of things im 13 and they told us that we would have to go to court what will happen to me will i got to jail? i know it was so very stupid but we just cant afford things nomore and what will happen to my mom this is our first time getting caught
      Dear Jamelia: Since this is the first time for both you and your Mom, you can both expect to be offered what is called “diversion.” That means when you finish some community service, pay a fine or attend a class, the case will be dismissed. The court process will be explained to you when you go to court. Don’t miss your hearing and don’t steal again because the consequences get worse each time you appear before a judge. You won’t be going to jail this time but it is possible if you reoffend. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • venesa
      Fri, 01 Oct 2010 at 02:56

      Hello,just today i recieved a letter from the court telling me thats i should go to the police station to get fingerprintd and my photo id should be with me before the court day does that mean maybe i go to jail as i said this is my first offense and the merchandise 65 $ worth and everything was by accident
      Dear Venesa: It doesn’t mean that you’re going to jail. It may be the practice in your area for juveniles to be fingerprinted before appearing in court when charged with a crime. You may still be eligible for the diversion program. Follow the court’s instructions and don’t miss the hearing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Linh
      Fri, 01 Oct 2010 at 08:29

      my friend got caught shoplifting at macys. she took a jacket and jewlery and the fine was 395$. i took part in this and they have me on camera too. they didnt call me in when they questioned her. the next day the police called me and her looking to talk to us. in the bag we also had stuff from other stores that we took. what will happen to me? i live in california.
      Dear Linh: After the police finish interviewing the two of you and any other witnesses they decide to talk to, they can refer the case to the local prosecutor. He/she will decide whether there are grounds to file any charges including shoplifting. You may receive a letter in the mail notifying you of a court date. Make sure you appear if that happens. You might want to discuss this with your parents so it doesn’t come as a complete surprise later. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • justin
      Sat, 02 Oct 2010 at 08:31

      hey im 15 and was at a jewellery store with my mum, my mum bought something with her master card and while she was doing that i was looking at some charms and they were in some box that spins around and while i was spinning it a charm fell off so i managed to get my hand inside the box and grab it and i put it in my bag and walked of with my mum and went into another store with my mum and while we were in there the lady from the jewellery store was out side with security pointing at me so i got the charm out and ditched it into a box in the store, then me and my mum walked out and the security talked to me and said there was video footage of me stealing it but i denyied it all and so he just wanted to know what i wanted to say and then he let us go. what will happend now will they get my mums details of the master card and send police to my house?? what will happen if they do come to my house??
      Dear Justin: It is possible for the police to trace your whereabouts through your Mom’s credit card information. For such a small item they may not do so but you never know. If they come to your home to speak with you and your mother, tell them the truth. Lying only makes any situation worse. In some states and countries, lying to a police officer is another crime – sometimes called “false reporting” or “obstruction of justice.” So, be honest and learn from this experience. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jason
      Sat, 02 Oct 2010 at 11:59

      i was caught shoplifting before but the cop took down some information and let me go, i was let go and only charged by the store with some civil stuff and the second time i was caught the police officer gave me a note that said “to a person not yet charged with an offence” and i am to appear in court what is going to happen to me? am i going to face jail time? and is my case going to be closed after one visit to the court? because the item was worth 45 dollars worth, what is the worst that could happen to me? and should i plead guilty?
      Dear Jason: We can’t tell you whether to plead guilty or not. Discuss that with your parents and attorney if you have one. When you go to court you’ll meet with a court officer or probation officer. He/she will explain the process to you. You may be offered “diversion” which means when you complete some community service, pay a fine or attend a class the case will be closed. You won’t have a record that will affect your future. It’s not likely you’ll get any jail time for a first offense. But the possibility is always there if you continue to break the law. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • lily
      Sun, 03 Oct 2010 at 02:03

      hello. my friend and i were caught shoplifting at the mall. we were caught and the police came. they gave us a ticket and said we need to show up to court on the assigned date. they also told us our records can be sealed because we are under 18. i am turning 18 soon which means i will be able to ask for my juvenile records to be sealed. however, i heard sealing a juveline record takes a while. unfortunately, i have to apply to college this year. when they ask if i have ever been adjudicated or convicted of a misdemeanor, felony, or other crime, do i answer yes or no if my juvenile records are in the process of becoming sealed?
      Dear Lily: Good question. Pay close attention to the questions asked on any application you complete. If they ask about convictions, you can answer no since in juvenile court you’re not technically “convicted” of a crime – you’re adjudicated responsible for the offense. Also if this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion which means after completing some community service the case will be closed without an official record. Also, as you mentioned, even if you have a record for this incident, after a period of time you can apply for its expungement. Each state is different regarding the time periods and offenses, so ask about this when you go to court. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • michelle
      Sun, 03 Oct 2010 at 02:22

      i was caught shoplifting from kmart, with my two little cousins im only 17, i go to court october 12th and my dad doesnt know yet and i dont know what to do, i wanna know what mite happen..
      Dear Michelle: First, you need to tell your dad about this. He’s going to find out eventually and it would be better coming directly from you. Remember he was a teenager once and would appreciate your coming to him first. If this is your first offense, you’ll likely be offered diversion which means when you finish some community service, the case will be closed. When you go to court the process will be explained to you. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Monica
      Sun, 03 Oct 2010 at 02:54

      A year ago, my friends & I was caught shoplifting, we were 13 then & it was at Jcpenny’s. They told us they will give us a call when we have to go to court. But they never called us. I wanted to know since we didn’t go to court did they file shoplifting in our records anyways?
      Dear Monica: Since it’s been a year, it’s unlikely the store filed any charges against you. You would have heard something by now. If they took your information [name, address, etc] they may be keeping their own file in the event you return and shoplift again. The next time you won’t be so lucky. So hopefully you’ve learned from this incident. Also if you were banned from the store, don’t return until you have permission. Otherwise you could be charged with trespassing. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Ana
      Mon, 04 Oct 2010 at 08:52

      I worked at a store about a year and a half ago. I took some extra discounts on stuff I bought and turned myself in after loss prevention caught my friend. They ordered us to pay the store back but they didnt file charges or take us to court. Its been a eyar later and i work as a civilian in the sheriff office in California. The background check didnt turn up anything. I learned my lesson and want to go be a police officer..will that incident hurt me?
      Dear Ana: From what you have described, it doesn’t sound like you have any record with either the court or the police. Therefore, this incident should not affect your ability to become an officer since it was handled internally with the store. You could request a copy of your criminal record with either your local court or police department to confirm that there is nothing on it. Best of luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Sean
      Mon, 04 Oct 2010 at 11:27

      Good evening sir. I have a question which seems to be very confusing. About 2 months ago, i was caught shoplifting $60 worth of merchandise, i was ashame for what did. That same day police decided to give me a F.A.T.ticket, that i had to appear in court. However, i was told by an attorney that its very likely that i would be given an ACD and not have to pay a fine for the merchandise. However, today i received a letter in the mail today from an Attorney who represents the retail store and stated that I have to “owe” them the amount of $250 according to the New York State General Law Section 11-105. So my question is this. Do I have to pay the fine even if i was giving an ACD?
      Dear Sean: You received a “civil demand” letter from the store. In every state, there are laws that allow stores to collect this civil fee without having to go to court. Often when a person pays this fine, the store chooses to not press charges against the person. This could be the case for you which could result in you not having to go to court or participate in any ACD program. However, the store still could press charges even if you pay the civil fine. If you choose not to pay the fine, then you are more likely to have to go to court. You will have to decide what you want to do. Perhaps you could speak to the lawyer you spoke to earlier about this letter and your options. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice.]

    • Mark
      Tue, 05 Oct 2010 at 06:45

      Dear Judge,

      I was caught shoplfiting at a department store. I went to court, the charges have been dropped. My question is about the internal records of the store. They took down my name and basic information using my driver’s license. Even though I will have a clean record is there any way that the information on the store’s database can ruin my future image?
      Dear Mark: It’s unlikely that the store’s in-house records will have any affect on your future. They keep note of shoplifting incidents in the event you return to the store and shoplift again. Also if you were banned from the store for a period of time, they have a record of that if you returned. They could then press trespass charges.
      Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Jared
      Fri, 08 Oct 2010 at 11:12

      I shoplifted from American Eagle and now I feel bad and am planning on taking the shirt (I didn’t get caught) back I stole…as I stole it as a dare…If I take it back and pay for it will I get persecuted still?
      This is to my last comment, I’m 16 years old.
      Dear Jared: Your remorse is good and you’re doing the right thing by returning it to the store. Whether they will press charges or not is their decision. You might consider telling your parents what you did and if they go with you to return it, it might help resolve this without formal charges or a record. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • annie
      Sun, 10 Oct 2010 at 02:05

      I was framed for shoplifting, a few months ago but I was too afraid to confess that it wasn’t me because of the sheer fact that I didn’t know who or how the clothing got into my bag. I was charge and my parents paid the fine, but I later found out who the real culprit was. I’m afraid I’m underage with a shoplifting record and I was wondering if there was anything to do to put this person to justice and me out of the dark.
      Dear Annie: First, if you didn’t go to court or participate in a court diversion program, you don’t have an official record to worry about. The fine your parents paid may be what is called a “civil demand” which doesn’t result in a criminal record. The only record that might exist is with the store in the event you return and do something wrong in the future. Talk with your parents about this. They can discuss the situation with the store and the store might clear your name in their records. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Kelly
      Sun, 10 Oct 2010 at 03:19

      Hi, I got caught shoplifting at Sephora & all the item I took was about $117. I’m only 15 years old & I don’t know what to do. I really made my parent disappoint & even my older sister. The employer said that I’m going to get a letter setting my court date & that I might have to pay a fine. My question is “Can I really get charge for a fine?” & “Can’t I just do community service instead of paying?” Because I rather do that. I feel bad for my parents, they didn’t cause it but still they might have to pay for my cause, I rather pay for it, but I can’t. I dont have money. Thanks.
      Dear Kelly: Since this is your first offense you may be offered diversion. That means when you complete some community service, pay a fine, or attend a class the case will be closed. You may also receive a letter from the store requiring payment of a fine. You might be able to work something out with the store where low, monthly payments will be accepted. If you have to go to court you could explain to the judge that you’d prefer work hours over a fine. Shoplifting involves two separate actions against you — one is civil [the fine from the store] and criminal [a charge filed in court] Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sally
      Sun, 10 Oct 2010 at 09:36

      I just shoplifted in Century 21 last month. I am 18 and live in NYC. I shoplifted $19 worth of sheer stockings. They took a mug picture of me and the item I stole. Didn’t call the police, just fill out a paper and they didnt really say anything to me. After I fill out the paper and they putting the info to computer.. they tell me to leave. and I had to ask them, what do I do? Do I need to go to court? They just told me I might need to pay a fine. So will I go to court? I just received a letter telling me to pay $89.55. So do you think they will mail me another letter telling me to go to court? It was my first time.. will I have any criminal records? If so.. can it be sealed?
      Dear Sally: Since this is your first offense and the police were not involved, you won’t be going to court. The store can handle shoplifting cases as a civil matter without pressing formal charges. That’s what it sounds like is happening here. Once you pay the civil fine, the case will be closed. If the store told you not to return, don’t. Otherwise you could be charged with trespass. Think twice the next time you’re tempted to steal something. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Neeta
      Mon, 11 Oct 2010 at 08:30

      Hello sir, My sister (she ws 19 ( in canada)) did shoplifting from zellers worth 100$ and got caught, but as it was her first time she paid some fines and got banned frm hbc and did alternative measures and completely did her program and now its been 2 months that she again got caught with shoplifting worth 500$. and she is 19, So can you please tell what is going to happen ? Although now after this incident we have started sending her to counselling on daily basis and she very much understands her responsiblity now. Please let me know this. As, we are very scared for her. thankyou so much!
      Dear Neeta: It’s possible this time that she’ll be put on probation for a period of time. She’ll be supervised by a probation officer and have additional terms to follow. Depending on the practice of the court she’ll be in, she may be sentenced to a brief period in detention or jail. Every jurisdiction handles shoplifting differently. She could also be given diversion again with additional community service. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • lily
      Mon, 11 Oct 2010 at 11:05

      hello. my friend and i have been caught shoplifting at a mall and we have to go to court this month. i am aware of a few consequences such as community service and receiving a fine but is it possible to ask the judge to not get a fine or is it something we cannot avoid? and if we do get a fine, about how much will be the fine? and will my dad go in with me to the juvenile court when i meet the judge? who will be in the court room?
      it’s a lot of questions but i just want to be aware before the court date. thank you for your assistance.
      Dear Lily: Your questions are important and it’s a good idea to know in advance what might happen. First, yes your dad will be with you in the courtroom. Judges prefer seeing parents with their kids in court. If the judge considers giving you a fine, you can explain your financial situation and he/she may consider giving you extra work hours instead. Judges understand the economy and financial strains on families. You may not see a judge, however. If this is your first offense, you may be offered diversion. The probation officer will explain the program to you and it may not include a fine. Tell the person you’ll meet with when you go to court that you’d prefer community service over a fine. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • aderly
      Tue, 12 Oct 2010 at 02:14

      helloo my name is aderly , i am 16 and live in Maple Shade NJ . ok so yesterday i was at kmart and i was with my friend which is 14 years old, he gave me a little box that had phone covers in it , he gave it to me so i could hold it for him and he told me that he already paid for it but i wad talking on the phone so i didnt really pay atention . So when we’re walking out of the store , im guessing it was like the manager or somethingthat stoped us and told us to go in his office and put everything we stole on his desk . so i put everything i had on me on the desk because i didnt really know what was going on. so then they started asking us questions about us and answered them cooperatively , so ten they told us all we had to do was call someone that was over 18 to come pick us up and sign the release form. so then we couldnt get anyone because they were all working so then they called the police and the police asked us more question about us. and told us that in a couple weeks MAYBE we will get a paper that says that we have to go to court. so all i want to know is , Do my parents have to come with me IF i have to go court?. and whats gonna happen IF i do go ?.
      Dear Aderly: You might receive two notices in the mail. First, the store may send you a statement requiring payment of a fine. This is called a “civil demand.” Once you pay it the case is usually closed. You may also receive a notice from the court about a criminal hearing. That’s if the prosecutor decides to file a shoplifting charge against you. When you go to court, the process will be explained to you. You may be offered diversion if this is your first offense. That means when you finish some community service, pay a fine or attend a class the case will be closed. You may have a chance to talk with a lawyer about how to proceed. You should tell your parents about this so they can go with you to court. Most juvenile courts require parents to be present. If you didn’t do anything wrong and had no intent to shoplift, explain that to your parents and lawyer. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • neeta
      Wed, 13 Oct 2010 at 06:25

      Hello sir, My sister (she ws 19 ( in canada)) did shoplifting from zellers worth 100$ and got caught, but as it was her first time she paid some fines and got banned frm hbc and did alternative measures and completely did her program and now its been 2 months that she again got caught with shoplifting worth 500$. and she is 19, So can you please tell what is going to happen ? Although now after this incident we have started sending her to counselling on daily basis and she very much understands her responsiblity now. Please let me know this. As, we are very scared for her. thankyou so much! And u did answer my question Before about the above question. what i wanted to know now is Should we get a lawyer for her ? because she now really understands her responsibilities and she doesnt want to go in jail. please let me know.
      Dear Neeta: Depending on the policy of the court involved in this case, she may be appointed a lawyer by the court. If not, she may want to talk with one before going to her first hearing. Since she’s an adult with a prior offense, the consequences may be harsher this time. She could call the court and ask about the process and if she’ll be appointed a lawyer. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Sherice
      Thu, 14 Oct 2010 at 12:20

      Hello my name is Sherice.last month me nd my cousin shoplifted. We was told we had to pay for any item that we stole. We ended up paying about $40.00. now this incident happened last moth. at the time they said that no charges was to made against us if we confess what we did and pay for all the items. We’ve both received a civil claim against us. i don’t completely know what that means but we have to pay $150. Is this possible? that they say all we have to do is confess and pay for the items and that they hope we learned our lesson..but still we have to pay the $150?
      Dear Sherice: Most states have a law that allows stores to impose a “civil fine” on shoplifters. This keeps hundreds of cases out of court and prevents you from having a record. So, once you pay the fine the case will be closed. You may not be so lucky the next time you think of shoplifting. The store can always press charges which will take you before a judge. Good luck.
      [This is information only - not legal advice].

    • Clare
      Thu, 14 Oct 2010 at 07:37

      Today I got caught putting a 75 % sticker on these two boots I wanted. It totalled 51.00 of what i didn’t pay for. I am really scared. I was cited and I have to go to court. I live in WASHINGTON state and this happened in the PX in the military installation. I am a spouse. What can happen to me? I’m really scared and I have never done anything before. This will be my first and last. I am feeling really bad, and I understand that this a