Did you catch your child shoplifting? What does one expect in such an event?

22 Nov, 2021

Have you ever gone shopping with your children and noticed your child has gone missing? How often do you not dismiss their playfulness and wonder where they are? Well, it’s time you should look into them immediately, as there might be a chance that they may have committed a crime without their knowledge. 

Young kids are playing a game so unwise that it has been around the block for many years worldwide. It is natural to feel a plethora of emotions when you suspect your child is falling prey to shoplifting and blame yourself for your child’s wrongdoing. This leaves little to no room to correct your child’s behaviour and enables them to be on the fine line in the event the shoplifting goes unattended with no consequences. In the thrill of succumbing to blues of instant gratification, there lies the other side of being caught red-handed. 

An increase in exposure and experience in our lifetime adds to our primal need to protect our assets. We continue to actively seek and absorb information to become well versed and knowledgeable in protecting such assets. This article aims to discuss and emphasize the protection of our most valuable asset that happens to be in the form of our children, against the danger of unforeseen events that might not be anywhere near our thoughts and inhibitions, but some very uncommon behaviour and habits become very common for our children. 

We have come to know of several incidents that are not completely a new trend for kids in high school and teenagers, but it seems like it’s now getting back into fashion. Some teenagers describe these incidents as a chance for the thrill or an adventure, as a sense of entitlement due to the competitive nature of possessing the newest gadget in the block or wearing the trendiest clothing. Many kids justify this habit of shoplifting to satisfy their need for instant gratification while, in fact, they’re in clear violation of the law in every jurisdiction. The crime of shoplifting is punishable by imprisonment and/or a fine that may be subjective to the child’s age and the circumstances under which such a crime had taken place. 

Children between the ages of 7 and 18 are juveniles and are considered to be below the age of legal accountability. This gives them protection against imprisonment and most punishments regulated in the Penal Law. However, Federal Law No. 9 of 1976 concerning juveniles was specially formulated to control the offences committed by children between those ages. 

It might seem normal if your child took a toy from a store and you noticed that only when the alarm started to ring or when the security notified you regarding the matter. What might seem like a straightforward situation where you return it, pay for it, apologize and get it over with might not be the case when you are not around. In the event, this is a repeated situation for the store, and they refuse to let it go, what happens if the product was a luxury watch or a luxury diamond or gold wear?

The qualifying factor, in this case, is the action itself – regardless of the product value. This will be considered an act of theft. There will be no chance for an amicable settlement on the spot, and the act of theft will be reported as a crime to the police and relevant authorities, making it a problem that will escalate to a level of seriousness that cannot be regarded as a game anymore.

On such an occasion, it’s a must to contact a legal professional to represent you and your child before the authorities or for further negotiation possibilities with the store. 

It is important to understand that not only is it the responsibility of your child, but it is also equally yours. Your children are considered to be below the criteria that meets criminal accountability when they are juvenile. This makes it your responsibility to keep an eye on them and nurture them in a manner that supports strong objective morality. In the unfortunate event that a child succumbs to the lack of guidance, the consequences faced in the form of punishments in accordance with the law are listed below; 

As per the third chapter of the Federal Law No. 9 of 1976, Article 15;

The arrangements that may be taken against a child “a juvenile” are:

  1. Reprimanding.
  2. Hand over
  3. Judicial examination
  4. Prevention from entering certain places
  5. Prohibition of practising certain works.
  6. Mandatory professional training.
  7. Hand over to the remedial shelter, rehabilitation institute, educational home or correction house, as the case may be.
  8. Deportation from country.

These arrangements were set to replace the harsher punishments that apply to adults with one or more arrangements that will be applied according to the juvenile’s age and the crime.

There is a possibility that responsibility may be executed against the parent, guardian, or caregiver who may face fines and other punishments with regards to their role as a guardian for the juvenile. This is left to the judge’s discretion.

In conclusion, understanding the need to inculcate morality into your child at a young age will guide them in protecting themselves. This will enable them to comply with the law at all necessary times. However, it might not be enough in inevitable circumstances, no matter how self-aware the child is. Hence, if you or your loved one has seemed to have gotten themselves into a legal rigmarole, you can get in touch with us. 

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