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Teens mean well, but shoplifting is still a crime

Teens can have hearts of gold and good intentions, but at the same time make bad, spur-of-the-moment decisions. There's a lot of pressure to give the perfect gifts at the holidays.

Teens are often strapped for cash and aren't able to afford what they'd really like to give someone special-including you, their parents. Unfortunately, a shoplifting or petty theft charge can ruin the holidays, and potentially affect a teen's future.

What a teen steals makes a big difference

Under Kansas law, shoplifting falls under the category of theft. The penalties vary depending on the value of the merchandise and the frequency of occurrence:

  • If the items stolen are valued at less than $1,500, the charge is a class A misdemeanor
  • When the value increases above that dollar level, from $1,500 to $25,000, the charge becomes a level 9 felony
  • If someone steals from three different stores within a period of 72 hours (there are other situations covered in this statute as well), regardless of the value of the items, that's a level 9 felony
  • If an adult is a repeat offender and has already been convicted of theft two or more times, that's also a level 9 felony.

Most cases involving teens and young adults will be misdemeanor charges and carry penalty fines, but that depends on the severity of the crime. An experienced attorney can help, especially because of the penalties for repeat convictions.

What can you do to help your teen?

Reach out to an attorney as soon as you can after a shoplifting charge. It's never too soon to call. This isn't something you need, or want, to face on your own.

Talk to your teen about the true meaning of the holidays and stress that expensive gifts are not important. You may have said this before, but that's okay. Keep saying it.

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