Indiana shoplifting laws allow a prosecutor the discretion to charge one arrested for shoplifting with a felony or misdemeanor. It is that very reason why it is important if you are charged with shoplifting in Indiana to retain a shoplifting defense attorney that handles shoplifting charges as soon as you have been charged.
Indiana Shoplifting Laws
Unfortunately, Indiana theft laws list no specific shoplifting statute. When a shoplifting incident occurs, and the value of the items stolen are valued at under $250, the subsequent charge is criminal conversion, which is a Class A misdemeanor under Indiana law.
If the stolen items are valued at greater than $250, the subsequent criminal charge is a Level 6 Felony theft offense.
Additionally, if an individual is caught knowingly or intentionally controlling someone else’s property with the intent to keep it from them, they can also be charged with theft. As previously mentioned, in the state of Indiana, the crime of theft is a Level 6 felony that is punishable by 6 months to 3 years in prison.
Part of an Organized Theft Ring? Charges Get Serious.
Now, this is where things can get complicated. If the prosecutor determines that the shoplifting act is a part of a larger, organized retail theft ring, and the value of the property stolen by the theft ring is more than $100,000, the individual(s) charged may face Class C felony charges with a potential sentence of 2-8 years in prison.
Shoplifting Key Elements
The primary element that the prosecutor must prove to get a shoplifting conviction, is that the person intended to accomplish or to conceal the property of the store. The prosecutor has to prove certain key points:
- The taking or concealing of an item
- The individual did so with the intent to permanently deprive the store of the item or
- The individual intended to defraud the store of the true value of the item
Inadvertently concealing something from the store or having possession and taking an item can occur accidentally in the process of trying on clothes or jewelry. Again, a key element of shoplifting is intent. Without intent, a shoplifting charge may not lead to a conviction. The prosecution must prove that intent exists, and without this intent, the charge of shoplifting is no longer valid.
Common Shoplifting Defenses
There are certain defenses to shoplifting that apply in certain cases. Some of the most common shoplifting defenses are as follows:
- The individual was lured into shoplifting the item
- The individual was too intoxicated to realize what they were doing so that there is no intent
- Return of Property
- There was no intent to take the property, and the individual was attempting to return the property
Common Shoplifting Myths
Every year the retail industry loses billions of dollars to shoplifting and retail theft. Even though a taken item may seem to be small in value, it is theft, and any theft conviction comes with several life-altering consequences.
Shoplifting Is Not a Serious Crime
Each state has different penalties for shoplifting, involving a combination of jail time and financial penalties. In Indiana, a first-time offense for shoplifting can be treated as a misdemeanor with probation and no jail time, all the way up to being charged with a felony and receiving heavy fines and prison time, with the potential of civil forfeiture. The potential penalties for a shoplifting conviction have the potential to increase for each subsequent charge, with penalties even harsher for habitual offenders.
Shoplifting Is a Victimless Crime
Many shoplifters feel that retail theft is a victimless crime, but the consequences are far more serious. On average, the American economy loses close to $32 billion per year from shoplifting and other forms of theft.
People Shoplift Out of Need
There is the belief that the majority of shoplifting occurs due to individuals resorting to retail theft to fulfill a need. However, this is usually not the case. Some of the most commonly shoplifted items include snacks, over-the-counter medicines, small electronics, and undergarments.
Are You Charged with Shoplifting?
If you have been charged with shoplifting, it is very important that you speak with a shoplifting defense or a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Though shoplifting may seem like a small, victimless crime, shoplifting is nothing less than the exact opposite. A conviction for shoplifting can result in years in prison, thousands in fines, and lost government benefits and job opportunities.