Underage theft crimes in Ohio include shoplifting, petty theft, and credit card theft. Children charged with committing theft crimes risk losing their freedom and having a permanent criminal record. Working with our NE Ohio defense attorney at Erb Legal might help a child to avoid the harsh consequences of a conviction or adjudication, including:
Sometimes, people look upon underage theft crimes as simply a manifestation of childhood mischief, but the effects of these charges on a child’s future educational and employment prospects can be serious and long-lasting. An experienced defense attorney is familiar with how to pursue opportunities for diversion programs and record sealing to lessen the impact of underage theft crimes.
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Theft crimes are defined in the Ohio Revised Code as the taking of property belonging to another person without their permission or consent and with the intention of permanently depriving the rightful owner of it. Petty theft is the lowest category of theft crime. It involves the taking of property valued at less than $1,000. Petty larceny is a misdemeanor of the first degree.
Shoplifting is not a separate theft charge in Ohio. Shoplifting is a theft charge with the degree of offense and the penalties increase as the value of the merchandise taken increases. For example, a child who steals a $250 set of headphones from a store would be charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree because the value of the item is less than $1,000.
Misdemeanor shoplifting is punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail. If the value of the item taken is $1,000 or more, the charges rise to a felony and the penalties range from fines between $2,500 and $20,000, and incarceration ranging from six months to 10 years.
Ohio permits merchants who are the victims of theft to recover damages in a civil lawsuit equal to the value of the property plus $50 to $150, or the merchants can receive $200 or three times the value of the stolen property, whichever is greater. Merchants can also recover court costs and legal fees.
Prosecutors throughout the state of Ohio offer diversion programs to adult offenders charged with theft crimes. Underage theft crimes offenders whose cases are in or have been referred to the adult courts for prosecution might be able to obtain a waiver to participate in a diversion program. Adult diversion program participants perform community service, receive counseling and treatment where appropriate, and agree to pay restitution for the property that was taken.
Juvenile court diversion programs are designed to remove a child suspected of committing an underage theft crime from the court system. Diversion can benefit the underage offender by having the case handled informally without a record in the juvenile court.
Sealing a criminal or juvenile record can help a person convicted of underage theft crimes avoid some of the consequences of the conviction by making the records unavailable to most people. Law enforcement agencies will have access to the records, as will the courts if the person is subsequently charged with committing another crime.
A person is eligible to have their record sealed if they are a first-time offender and three years have elapsed between the completion of the sentence and the application to seal the record for a felony, or one year for a misdemeanor conviction. Certain violent crimes such as rape, assault, and sexual battery are not eligible for record sealing.
Juvenile records can be sealed on the court’s own motion or upon application made on behalf of the child. Once a record is sealed, the child can answer questions about the case as though it never happened. The court expunges the record five years from the date on which it was sealed or when the child reaches 23 years of age, whichever occurs first.
Children and young adults commit underage theft crimes for a variety of reasons, including peer pressure and poor judgment. Our attorneys are available to provide advice, guidance, and representation to minimize the consequences of a youthful mistake.