What to Do When You are Arrested for Juvenile Theft
Being arrested for juvenile theft can carry some lifelong consequences. The charge is only used when the person is under 18 years old and considered a minor in the eyes of the law. If you or a loved one has been arrested for juvenile theft, the very first thing to do is to contact an attorney who specializes in this area. An attorney who’s experienced in representing those charged with juvenile theft will know how to best navigate the legal system on their client’s behalf. Look for a lawyer who has plenty of knowledge defending juveniles within the court system. You also want to be sure you hire an attorney who has a good record for success. It’s not enough that they have tried cases related to juvenile theft – in this case, you want representation who’s been successful in either getting the court to dismiss the case altogether, or who is, at a minimum, able to navigate an acceptable plea bargain rather than the maximum penalty. It’s also ideal to find an attorney who communicates well with youth. After all, this can be a terrifying time for the youngster, and having a lawyer that can put them at ease can not only make them feel more comfortable, but can also help their case. A young person who is at ease during a stressful time is more likely to share details and information that will benefit their cause, rather than shutting down and keeping everyone at a distance.
What the Lawyer Needs
Your attorney will need to know the facts about the alleged theft. The basics will need to be covered: they’ll want to know everything about the “who, what, where, when, and how” of the event in question. This is not a time to hold anything back due to fear or embarrassment. It’s also important to share if there were any eyewitnesses or evidence that can prove innocence. Be prepared to share as much as you can about the incident so your lawyer can carefully construct the case for your defense.
Charges and Consequences for Juvenile Theft
How a juvenile theft case proceeds will depend on many variables. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. Just as every person is different, so is every court case. From the facts of the case to the person charged to the judge who presides (if the case goes that far), there are nuances that affect the outcome. However, there are some aspects that are relatively standard. First, the value and kind of property stolen will be considered. Petty theft in Virginia carries a misdemeanor charge. Usually, if the person committing the crime is a juvenile, petty theft doesn’t affect future education or employment opportunities. However, anyone who’s been charged will have their fingerprints will added to the law enforcement system, and these can be used for identification purposes in any future criminal acts. The good news is, Virginia law requires juvenile theft misdemeanor charges to be dropped from their record five years after they turn 19 years old. The theft of an item of higer value may result in a felony charge, even for a juvenile. A felony charge carries with it a lifetime of consequences that can range from denied job opportunities to college applications, among others. Another factor is the defendant’s record. A repeat offender is more likely to face a tougher charge (with higher penalties) than someone who has no prior charges or brushes with the law. Someone arrested for juvenile theft could face any one of, or a combination of, the following: fines, counseling, probation, community service, detention, and restitution for damages. Again, the punishment depends on the charge and past behavior. If your or a loved one has been charged with juvenile theft, contact the law firm of Petrovich and Walsh. Centrally located in Fairfax, their experienced attorneys have been in the business of providing defense for residents of Northern Virginia for more than 20 years. If you are facing charges of juvenile theft, count on the commitment, knowledge and experience Petrovich and Walsh can offer.