Know the law: theft
Have you have ever had something stolen from you while at school, like a cell phone or MP3 player? How did it make you feel? Or have you ever witnessed someone stealing while at school and done nothing to report it?
Theft is defined as the unlawful taking of property with the intent of keeping it from the legal owner. REPORT THEFT. [How can we set up a crimestoppers program in our school?] It isn't snitching. When you report crime you help create a feeling in your school that crime is not tolerated.
Know the law: to face penalties for theft, you do NOT have to be the one who actually steals the property. Theft includes:
- receiving stolen property
- helping someone to steal property
- causing a distraction or acting as a "lookout"
- being with someone when he or she steals and "going along with it"
- knowing that a theft is being committed.
- making or persuading another person to steal property.
Have you ever illegally downloaded music? Have you ever copied a favorite movie from a friends DVD? Both of these activities are types of theft.
Whether the amount stolen is $5 or $5,000, theft is always a crime. If you are caught shoplifting you could be banned from ever shopping at that store again.
The value of the stolen property or service will determine the penalty. Other factors that increase the penalty:
- Type of property stolen. Theft of guns, explosives or prescription drugs will result in a higher penalty. Stealing a firearm is a state jail felony.
- Past criminal history. With progressive sanctioning, any history of previous juvenile misconduct can result in a harsher sentence for a new offense that has been committed.
- Gang-related offenses. If three or more people commit theft together, everyone involved can be treated as a gang member, which means they face stiffer punishment.
- Number of offenses committed. If several thefts are committed, the value of the stolen items can be aggregated or added together. The offender will be charged with a more serious theft and punished with greater severity.
- Robbery. Committing theft by force or threat of force is a second-degree felony.
- Burglary. Entering a home or building with intent to commit a felony theft or an assault is also a felony.
Using a gun to commit aggravated robbery is a serious offense. Punishment for this type of first-degree felony includes up to 40 years for a juvenile offender or a life sentence for an adult offender.
Besides the criminal consequences of theft, a young offender might have other consequences to face. For any felony theft, a juvenile may be removed from school and placed in an alternative education program. If a juvenile is placed on probation, his or her parents may have to pay a probation fee for each month of probation served.