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What to expect if your child is arrested for theft

Juveniles can find themselves in serious trouble for crimes that may seem minor. In Florida, the property value threshold for grand theft, for example, is only $300, which means shoplifting even just a couple clothing items could set your child up for grand theft charges.

Grand theft is a felony, and the penalties reflect the harshness of that designation. Leaving your child’s case up to the courts is a dangerous option that could alter your child’s future.

Potential penalties

Florida law allows criminal charges to be filed in adult court for anyone who is 16 or older. That means your child could find themselves in adult court facing jail time in an adult facility. Beyond jail time, the consequences for a criminal conviction can have lifelong consequences.

While the courts may be more lenient on a first time offender, the possibility of harsh penalties means it is not in your best interest to trust the system to be fair or act in the best interest of your child.

Juvenile court and alternative programs

The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice offers alternative penalties for juveniles. These could include, among other options:

  • Restitution
  • Community service
  • Diversion programs

It is always in your child’s best interest to go through the juvenile system. The goal of juvenile programs is to help young people move on from their charges and work toward a better future.

While the juvenile court option may not be available in more serious cases, it is always worth exploring because the goal is to do what is best for your child.

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