What is Juvenile Shoplifting in Texas?
Shoplifting is covered under theft in the Texas Penal Code Section 31.03.
The term shoplifting usually describes the theft of merchandise from a retail store. It’s generally viewed as a minor offense, but depending on the value of the stolen property, the offense could bring serious charges.
Was your child arrested for shoplifting? Don’t delay consulting with a Fort Worth juvenile shoplifting defense lawyer. Varghese Summersett’s Board Certified juvenile defense attorney Lisa Herrick is here to help.
In this post, we’ll explain what is considered shoplifting in Texas, how the juvenile court works, and the penalties for juvenile shoplifting.
Who is considered a juvenile in Texas?
Texas considers anyone aged 10-16 to be a juvenile. Generally, if a child in this age range is charged with shoplifting, they’ll be tried in the Texas Juvenile Justice System.
Usually, a child won’t be detained ahead of a trial for theft charges. A probation officer will typically conduct an intake process to determine whether there is probable cause to charge the juvenile with the crime.
Detention usually isn’t the option, especially in shoplifting cases, unless one of several factors applies:
- The juvenile has a prior conviction.
- The juvenile doesn’t have a parent or guardian or receive adequate supervision and care from a parent or guardian.
- The juvenile is a flight risk, meaning they are likely to leave or be taken from the jurisdiction.
- The juvenile is a danger to themselves or others.
An adept Fort Worth juvenile shoplifting defense lawyer will contact the court
What are the penalties for juvenile shoplifting in Tarrant County?
The Texas juvenile justice system attempts to rehabilitate minors, not punish them. If a juvenile is adjudicated for a shoplifting theft, the Tarrant County juvenile court has multiple ways to handle the case. The circumstances and factors surrounding each case play an important role in determining how the court proceeds. A skilled Fort Worth juvenile shoplifting defense lawyer will have a good understanding of how the court will treat a case.
Here are the common ways the TJJS will handle a shoplifting case.
Released to parents: If a child is arrested for a first offense, such as shoplifting, the court sometimes decides to release them to their parents with a stern warning.
Fines or restitution: A juvenile court could require the juvenile to pay a fine or reimburse the owner for the cost of the stolen property.
Counseling: A juvenile judge could order counseling or therapy, depending on the child’s psychological needs.
Probation: The court could order probation and require the child to meet regularly with a probation officer.
Detention: For repeat offenders or serious cases, the court can commit a juvenile to a detention center or home. If a judge determines a child’s home life is dangerous or contributes to their delinquency, foster care could be required.
Transfer to adult system: In some serious felony cases, the juvenile court could decide to transfer the case to the adult system, where the juvenile would be tried as an adult.
My child is facing shoplifting charges in Tarrant County … what do I do?
If your child is facing a shoplifting charge in Tarrant County, you need to hire a Fort Worth juvenile shoplifting defense lawyer. Your child’s future could depend on how well they are defended. It’s vital that you have an aggressive and experienced juvenile defense attorney. That’s Lisa Herrick.
If the child is under 17, they will be charged as a juvenile. If the child is 17 or older, they will be charged as an adult. The state, however, could attempt to certify a minor as an adult if they deem the offense serious enough. In that case, a minor could be tried in adult court.
Does Texas Juvenile Court require a bond be posted?
No, a bond is not part of the juvenile justice process in Texas. Instead, each juvenile arrested in Texas is given a detention hearing. Each Texas juvenile has a right under state law to a detention hearing to determine whether their release from custody is appropriate. Texas requires the detention hearing takes place within 48 hours of the arrest. Your juvenile shoplifting defense lawyer will make sure the court is on top of this.
Texas juvenile courts are required to contact a parent or legal guardian “without unnecessary delay” to ensure their notice of the hearing. Texas’ 48-hour rule for detention hearings is strictly enforced. Juvenile courts must hold the hearing whether the juvenile’s parents are present or not. A Fort Worth juvenile shoplifting defense lawyer will help facilitate everyone’s attendance.
Under Texas law, a child must be released from custody at the Tarrant County Juvenile Center unless the court determines the following:
- The juvenile’s family and case history present an elevated risk that the juvenile will flee and not attend court hearings.
- The juvenile’s family situation is such that adequate supervision is not being provided, and the juvenile’s care or protection is at risk.
- The juvenile’s parent or guardian cannot arrange transportation or cares to return the child for required court appearances.
- The juvenile poses a danger to himself or the safety of the public if released (very subjective in nature and easy for a judge to abuse); or
- The child has been found to be “delinquent” in the past or received a conviction for a crime punishable by a term in prison and is likely to commit an offense if released.
Although detention is rare in a shoplifting case, a proficient Fort Worth juvenile shoplifting defense lawyer will help prevent any extended detention custody.
What happens at a Texas juvenile detention hearing?
Texas law requires detention hearings on all juvenile cases primarily to determine the facts of the allegations and if the child’s family arrangement provides adequate supervision for release and transportation to and from the court.
What if my child is not released from juvenile detention?
If the judge denies the child’s release from detention, it’s crucial to have an aggressive defense attorney who requests another hearing to challenge the ruling. Your Fort Worth juvenile shoplifting defense lawyer must remain vigilant about another hearing so your child’s case remains a priority for the judge.
What does Texas juvenile court work in Tarrant County?
When a juvenile is released from the Tarrant County detention center, the court typically requires the child to report to a juvenile probation officer for conditions of bond and an interview screening to determine the child’s school and home environment.
The juvenile court has broad discretion to interview the family to ensure the child is in a safe family environment.
While a juvenile case is adjudicated, conditions are often placed on the child. Such conditions could include regular drug tests and proof of school attendance. The conditions for the juvenile also apply to the parent or legal guardian because it’s their responsibility to see that the child is complying with the terms and conditions. A dependable Fort Worth juvenile shoplifting defense lawyer will keep both parent and child apprised of the terms.
What does ‘is in the best interest of the child’ mean in Texas?
Texas law requires the juvenile justice system to always keep that question a priority.
While the adult criminal justice system is focused more on punishment and deterrence, the juvenile system is catered more toward rehabilitation.
Of course, some judges are more focused on deterrence than rehabilitation, but a strong juvenile shoplifting defense lawyer will continue to remind the juvenile court of their legal obligation to act as an agent of rehab and not punishment.
How do I get my child’s juvenile case dismissed in Tarrant County?
An experienced Fort Worth juvenile shoplifting defense lawyer will evaluate the state’s evidence and perform a legal analysis to determine the strengths and weaknesses of its case and put together a legal strategy for defense.
Remember, the prosecutor must prove the crime. Your child has a right to a jury trial. The burden of proof is on the state.
What happens if a juvenile enters a true plea?
In juvenile cases, both parties can negotiate a resolution of a criminal charge. This requires the child to enter a plea of “true,” which is an acknowledgment that the evidence is accurate. This will resolve the case and instigate a sentencing hearing to determine an appropriate sentence.
At the sentencing hearing, a juvenile shoplifting defense lawyer will likely call witnesses to testify on behalf of the child. This is an opportunity for the defense attorney to try to mitigate the charges, help put the child’s circumstances in proper context, and emphasize rehabilitation.
The goal of Texas’ Juvenile Justice Code is “to remove, when appropriate, the taint of criminality from children committing certain unlawful acts.”
Juvenile judges are expected to approach sentencing from a place that presumes the child should have the chance to clear their criminal record in the future.
Is your child facing a shoplifting charge in Tarrant County? Call us.
If your child is facing a shoplifting charge in Tarrant County, you need a skilled juvenile shoplifting defense lawyer. Board Certified juvenile defense attorney Lisa Herrick has a long track record of winning results.
A juvenile conviction could carry with it the possibility of detention and have a profound influence on your child’s future. Varghese Summersett will make your child’s defense a priority and work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome. For a free consultation, call us at 817-203-2220.