There are many reasons why a juvenile might choose to shoplift in Washington state. Oftentimes, it is a result of an impulsive, one-time bad decision. However, even though a juvenile will not be charged in the state of Washington as an adult for shoplifting, it is important to be aware of how serious these charges can be and how they can impact the juvenile’s future. According to the state of Washington, shoplifting is categorized as “theft in the third degree” assuming that the value of the shoplifted goods does not exceed $750 in value.

The above is the most common charge levied against juvenile shoplifters in Washington state. It is considered to be a gross misdemeanor. If the value of the pilfered items exceeds $750, the shoplifting charge may be turned into a felony. Depending on the case, prosecutors will attempt to combine multiple shoplifting offenses in order to meet the threshold for a felony charge.

In the case of juvenile shoplifters, many times it is possible to keep the case out of court in Washington state by enrolling the minor in question in diversion programs. However, many parents and minors alike are surprised to find that the records for juveniles are not necessarily 100% private. Having a record in juvenile court regarding shoplifting can negatively affect the minor’s future, including college enrollment, military acceptance, and even future employment opportunities.

Additionally, the parents of minors convicted of shoplifting may be held liable for fines totaling up to $1425.00.

It may be tempting to take the path of least resistance when dealing with juvenile shoplifting; however, it is important to be aware of all the possible consequences.