A report of shoplifting has snowballed into far more severe criminal allegations for a teenager in Aroostook County. Now he is being charged with drug possession and other offenses related to his arrest.
Because the suspect is 19 and seems to have a mark on his criminal background, the repercussions of the arrest and additional charges are even more serious.
Shoplifting Investigation Leads to Arrest
The manager of a convenience store in Mars Hill, Maine, near the border with Canada, called the police to report a suspected shoplifter on June 27, 2019. According to the manager, the customer entered the store, put multiple items from the store into his pockets and then casually left without paying.
As a part of the shoplifting investigation, a deputy sheriff watched surveillance footage from inside the store.
Later that same day, the same deputy sheriff saw someone who looked similar to the person in the surveillance video. When the deputy sheriff approached him, he ran.
When police caught up to him and made an arrest, they found that he had methamphetamine and other drugs with him.
Numerous Charges Filed Against Suspect
The arrest led to numerous charges, including:
- Possession of a controlled substance;
- Evading police; and
- Theft from the original shoplifting allegation.
Additionally, the 19-year-old was charged with a probation violation from an earlier offense. While it is unclear what the earlier offense was, there is a significant chance that it was for a juvenile offense – the suspect was 19 at the time of the current arrest, making it very possible that the earlier offense was tried in juvenile court.
Repercussions of New, Non-Juvenile Offenses
Juvenile offenses are different from adult offenses in that they are pursued with less of a focus on punishing the defendant and more with a purpose of rehabilitation. As a result, convictions (or adjudications as they're called in the JV court system) for juvenile offenses are frequently penalized with probation rather than fines and jail time.
One way the criminal justice system in Maine can do this is through a suspended sentence. If a juvenile is adjudicated for, say, shoplifting, the judge can choose to impose a three-month jail term but then suspend that jail sentence while the juvenile is on probation. If the defendant is never convicted for another crime, the three-month jail term is never served.
However, if the young defendant becomes an adult and then gets charged with new crimes – as is the case, here – whatever jail sentence was previously suspended may be added to the potential consequences of a conviction now.
Shoplifting and Criminal Defense Lawyers at WTB Law
Because shoplifting is predominantly done by juveniles and young adults, defending against a shoplifting charge requires an element of foresight. Accepting a suspended sentence rather than fighting for an acquittal in juvenile court can come back to haunt you later.