Unfortunately, although your daughter is a minor, she is old enough at 17 to be outside of jurisdiction of juvenile court. She will be charged as an adult and will face an adult sentencing. Illinois, like the majority of states, does not require the police to notify parents before detaining and interrogating a 17 year old.
As you probably realize, Macy's is allowed to proceed both civilly -- as they attempted to do with you at the store -- and criminally.
Here is the Illinois Retail Theft Statute
, the elements of which the state would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt if your daughter wishes to have hearings to challenge the constitutionality of the evidence taken from her and go on to trial on the case. The maximum penalty for the misdemeanor is a year in jail.
If your daughter does not wish to risk trial, the standard offer for a first arrest misdemeanor shoplifting offense would not involve incarceration, and, in fact, there's every reason to believe that if she wanted to dispose of this case she could receive a diversion or a deferred adjudication and, after a period of probation, fines, anti theft classes and some community service, walk awwy from this without a criminal record.
She will also need a lawyer, as criminal cases can have lifetime consequences and anything she says or does in court can potentially be used against her. She needs to know her rights and all of her choices and learn enough about her situation to make an informed decision in her best interest. If you can afford counsel for her, have him with her at her first court date. If you cannot, she should plead NOT GUILTY at her arraignment and ask the court for a public defender. NoT GUILTY is the only plea a defendant is ever supposed to make initially, as every defendant starts off presumed innocent . That's an important right that one does not give up unless she gets something she wants in exchange -- such as a disposition that would enable her to avoid a criminal record.
Edited by FranL on 2/6/2011 at 6:22 AM EST