What Happens When A Minor Is Caught Shoplifting in Connecticut?

Shoplifting is when someone intentionally takes merchandise from a store without paying for the items. It’s a crime that can be committed by anyone of any age, but statistics show that the majority of shoplifting is done by teenagers and young adults. If your teen has recently been caught shoplifting, you may wonder about the consequences they can face as a minor. To learn more about juvenile shoplifting offenses in Connecticut, read on or reach out to a Hartford County Juvenile Crime Defense Attorney today!


If a store has probable cause to believe you are shoplifting because you were caught by an employee or security camera, then the store is legally allowed to detain you until law enforcement arrives to take further action. Connecticut law enforcement then has the discretion to act against the minor as they deem fit. For most minor shoplifting cases, the police officer will simply issue a warning and release the teen, then confer with the parents and make a referral to a community organization or formal diversion service. The juvenile and their parents may need to appear in juvenile court or family court. Minors can be arrested, but this is normally only for serious offenses. The arrest procedure for minors is different than for adults, and the parents of the minor must sign an arrest report to ensure that they appear in court.


Like many other cases, the severity of the penalties depends on the severity of the crime. The higher value of items stolen, the more penalties the juvenile can face. In Connecticut, shoplifting under $500 worth of items is considered a Class C misdemeanor. For adults, this means a $500 fine and up to three months of jail time. For minors, the penalties vary, but juvenile courts tend to favor reformation over punishment. An experienced juvenile offense lawyer can usually convince the judge to place the minor in a diversion program rather than face criminal penalties. Diversion programs are rehabilitation programs where teens are required to take educational courses on shoplifting, participate in community service, and more. However, juveniles can face harsh punishments if they are a repeat offender. Teens with a criminal history are more likely to be placed in a juvenile detention center.

Other than juvenile detention, other possible punishments for shoplifting include:

  • Juvenile probation
  • Order to pay restitution for stolen property
  • Counseling
  • Suspension of driver’s license

In cases of serious offenses, juveniles as young as 14 can be transferred to adult court to be tried as an adult in Connecticut. Most of the time though, juvenile shoplifting will be handled in juvenile court or family court. Traditionally only severe crimes like murder or sexual assault are transferred to adult court.

Are you a teen or a parent of a teen facing shoplifting charges? No need to stress, the Law Office of Marc N. Needelman is here to help. Contact us today for quality legal counseling!

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