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Alert Parents: Is Los Angeles Petty Theft a “Gateway Crime”?

If you are a parent of a teenager or young man or woman who was recently arrested on charges of Los Angeles petty theft crime, you are probably sad, depressed, and anxious about your child’s future. shoplifting-in-los-angeles-penalties.jpg

What caring parent wouldn’t be?

The state of California considers both petty theft and shoplifting to be serious crimes. Individuals convicted on two separate occasions for petty theft can be actually slapped with a felony charge and compelled to spend over a year behind bars!

As a parent, you face two challenges. First, you face the challenge of dealing with the specific event that’s sent you on a Google-searching frenzy for a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. For instance, maybe your 18-year old stole some beer from a convenience store. Or maybe your son at UCLA got in trouble when he and his friends, as a joke, stole clothes from a women’s lingerie shop. Or whatever. And now you and your family need to clean up that mess.

On a deeper level, however, you also have deep and abiding concerns about your child’s judgment and potential for future legal problems. Is shoplifting or petty theft a “gateway crime”? Will your child go on to commit other criminal adventures, such as narcotics trafficking, burglary or violent crimes?

In the abstract, it’s obviously impossible to know whether to be concerned or not. “Stupid teenagers” often do “stupid things” and then “get over it.” Your teenage son’s shoplifting mishap maybe was just a fluke, for instance.

In any event, you want to make the correct parental moves. But in your panic and concern, you don’t want to push your child further away into a bad situation. In general, action is better than no action. But what actions are the right actions, what actions are the wrong actions? Again, outside of context, it’s hard to say.

One interesting theory, proposed by science writer, Judith Rich Harris, suggests that peer influence can far outweigh parental influence, especially among teenagers and young adults.

According to Harris, human beings act in many ways like pack animals. So your child’s shoplifting spree had less to do with his or her Freudian issues than with his or her friends’ behaviors and beliefs and pre-dispositions. So if your kid is “in with a bad crowd” — and if Harris is right — you may gain positive leverage by removing him or her from that crowd – either by forbidding him or her to hang out with the “the bad kids” or by taking him out of a bad school or even by moving out of town.

Another useful strategy is to connect immediately with a Los Angeles Southern California criminal defense attorney at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers (Local: (323) 464-6453 Toll Free: (888) 334-6344). Attorney Kraut is an extremely respected, versatile and experienced attorney. He spent a substantial part of his career working as a prosecutor for the City of Los Angeles, so he knows what kind of charges prosecutors will bring, and he can use his knowledge to help you and your family come up with the best possible defensive posture.

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