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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 16048
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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my minor daughter and her minor friend were caught for shoplifting. the store called me to

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in illinois. cook county. my minor daughter and her minor friend were caught for shoplifting. the store called me to come to the store. they wanted papers signed. after that, i asked to take my daughter, they then told me the girls were at the police station. the police never called either me nor the other mother. at the store (macys), the girls were told to sign a paper, and were told not to read it. it was an admittion to the offense. The girls never left the store. The items were retrieved and cost a little over $59. Macy's wanted the other mother and myself to sign a paper allowing Macy's to charge us $500. We denied to sign. they wanted the money immediately. I told them i need to speak to an attorney. They were handcuffed at the store, and then the police were called and they were taken to the police station. Again, neither the store when they called us told us about them being at the police station, and the police did not contact us. We should have gone to the police station first, and not to Macy's since the girls were not there
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 3 years ago.
Good evening, Jacustomer,

So that I may assist you, can you tell me how old is your daughter? What is the present status of the case against her? And what is your specific question?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
my daughter is 17. My major concern is that the police nor the store told me that she was arrested. Should not have the store kept the kids at the store until a parent went to them? This is what angers me. I did not even know where she was. I asked the arresting police officer why wasn't i contacted by the police that my daughter was at the police station. The cop told me that my daughter called me and told me she was at the station. I said no she did not, and neither did the police. There was no reason for my going to the store, since she wasn't even there.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 3 years ago.
Hi Jacustomer,

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.

Good luck!

Edited by FranL on 2/6/2011 at 6:22 AM EST
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I specifically asked whether she is a minor and if this is going to go on her record. He said she is a minor and that it will NOT go on her record. I will just receive a call, and it will be dismissed. Where are you getting your info from?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 3 years ago.
Jacustomer,

Thank you very much for that. I apologize.

I got my data from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service and their reports on juvenile justice. As a result of your last post I looked beyond that and have found that Illinois has since raised the maximum age for juvenile court from 16 to 17. So yes, this will be a juvenile offense, and yes she will be able to get this matter sealed and expunged.

The diversion program is a standard feature of all juvenile courts, and that is the offer of preference on a matter like this. I do still feel a lawyer is a good idea. The course of criminal justice on either a juvenile or an adult level does not generally run smoothly.

I am going to have to turn in for the night as it is very late. If you require any follow up, I will address it for you in the morning.

Edited by FranL on 2/6/2011 at 6:40 AM EST
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I will try to be more specific. I and the the girl's mother was called by Macy's department store, saying that our girls were there and that we needed to go to Macy's. After a half hour of waiting, and then taken to a far off room, we were given papers to sign stating that we will be required to pay $500. We declined to sign any papers. We were done with the papers, given copies, and then we asked for the girls. At that time we were told that they were not in the store but at the police department.
1. Should we not have been told by either the store or the police that our daughters were in custody?
2. They signed a paper at Macy's and were told not to read it. It was a confession of guilt.
3. Again should we not have been called by the police that minors were being taken into custody and to go to the police station and not to the store?
3. They never left the store. They were caught within the store.
4. What the department store did having us go to them instead of where our kids were was a scare tactic was it not? They were asking for $500 right away. I said, first I do not have that money on me, and secondly I will not sign any papers without an attorney reading them.
5. Finally, when seeing the arresting police officer, I asked why weren't we called and told that our daughters where at the police station? His answer was, "didn't she (my daughter) tell you"? Is this correct police procedure?

I am in no way condoning theft. I am questioning the procedure that obviously was done to give the department store money without any proper knowledge. It was not even their word against my daughters. She was not there for me to talk to her and get her side of the story. I also asked the police officer what happened, and he could not answer the question. He just said they were caught stealing. I asked whether they were caught outside the store. He did not know.

In adult situations, you have the right to make a phone call and even have an attorney present. Minors do not have these rights? Should not an adult have been present during the time they were in police custody?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 3 years ago.
Jacustomer,

Good morning.

There is no such thing as a Constitutional right for an adult to be entitled to a phone call. The right to a phone call is a Hollywood invention. There are times and circumstances that police will allow a phone call. They do not have to.

Don't misunderstand me. I am not condoning insensitive or improper police behavior any more than you are condoning theft. I have found only 8 states that require police to notify the parents of 17 year olds before proceeding with booking and questioning and Illinois is not among them. And the store did notify you of the incident, though the girls had been arrested by the time you got there. That may or may not have been an oversight on their part. They did ultimately tell you where they were.

However, as this matter was handled badly, I would urge you to write a strong letter -- or have a lawyer do so -- to the manager of Macy's -- report the police conduct to the superiors of he arresting officer, file another report against the police with Internal Affairs, and also report the matter to your State Attorney General's office. At the very least, the last two reports should raise an inquiry into your local police procedure and the matter would be investigated. The officers could be sanctioned or suspended if they committed improprieties. And of course, by bringing the matter to the surface you would be helping change come about.

Theft is an offense that can be prosecuted both civilly and criminally, and Macy's need not settle for just one avenue. Most large chains have become very vigorous about going after shoplifters. They charge -- and the civil law allows them to do so -- hefty fines and penalties for property taken even when it's returned unused and nominal in price. This helps them to cover the cost of their surveillance systems, insurance coverage, and loss prevention personnel.

Then they also turn the matter over to the police, who pass it along, in turn, to the state prosecutor. The purpose of the civil procedure is to repay the damages that flow from the loss. The purpose of the criminal prosectution is to punish the wrongdoer.

So in the end, while Macy's was more interested in money than in common courtesy , you will learn that they are entitled to compensation.

Finally, one need not actually leave the store to be arrested for shoplifting if circumstances make out the intent to do so. Obviously, once a suspect does leave the store, that's a stronger case for the prosecution. But the standard for an arrest is not proof of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. That's a trial standard.
To make an arrest and file charges with the court, all that's necessary is something called "probable cause." Probable cause is really only a reasonable belief that a crime may be afoot and that a particular person may have something to do with it. Very little evidence is required, and in matters like this one overzealous store security personnel will make the most of that. If the prosecutor chooses to follow this up and to have your daughter summoned to juvenile court, she can, of course, choose to contest the charges.

I doubt that this will make you feel better about what happened and how you and your daughter were treated, but hopefully it will put it into perspective in a larger context.

Edited by FranL on 2/6/2011 at 2:09 PM EST
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 16048
Experience: Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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