What are consequences for minor daughter arrested for petty theft?

Additional Information:

What are the consequences for petty theft in MA for my teenage daughter (under 18 years old)?  It is her first time getting in trouble.  Some girls had dared her to steal from a store in Tewksbury and challenged her to see how much she could steal.  She was arrested for merchandise totaling $200.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

It depends on how old your daughter is.  If she is under age 17, she will be charged in the Juvenile Court.  If she is 17, she will be charged as an adult in Lowell District Court.  There are a wide range of possible consequences.  Under the facts as you present them, it is likely that she would be looking at a dismissal upon payment of Court costs and any restitution.  She could also receive pretrial probation (which is when a Defendant is placed on probation without any type of admission in Court and the case is subsequently dismissed if she complies with the terms of probation) or receive what is called a Continuance without a Finding in which she admits to sufficient facts to find her guilty but is not found guilty.  If she complies with any probationary terms for the continuance period, the case is dismissed.  Massachusetts law allows for more significant penalties such as a conviction or incarceration but those are extremely unlikely for a first offense for someone with no criminal record. 

Our Tewksbury Criminal Defense Attorneys provide legal representation and can help guide individuals through the complexities associated with the criminal process in Massachusetts.  The lawyers at Berid & Schutzbank serve the communities of Tewksbury and the surrounding areas including: Andover, Billerica, North Billerica, Dracut, Lowell, and North Reading, MA.