Vigorous Lawyers Assisting Indianapolis Residents Facing Criminal Charges

Being accused of shoplifting can be a humiliating experience that nobody wants to go through. In many of these cases, there are unknown circumstances such as financial constraints or behavioral conditions that have caused the situation. Other times, a person may have been unjustifiably accused of shoplifting. In either situation, it is vital to obtain a competent and caring lawyer to help you get through the legal process. Harshman Ponist’s criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to providing capable representation to individuals in Indianapolis and nearby communities. Over the past twenty-five years, we have compiled considerable experience in handling a wide range of felony and misdemeanor cases, including shoplifting.

Indiana Shoplifting Laws

In cases of shoplifting in Indiana, a person may be charged with either the misdemeanor of conversion, or felony theft if the value of the item is above a certain amount. Since there are significant differences between the two crimes, it is vital to have an aggressive, competent lawyer on your side. We can analyze your case and attempt to get the charges lowered or even dismissed.

Conversion occurs when a person knowingly or intentionally exercises unauthorized control over another person’s property. In this type of case, it is essential for the prosecution to prove intent, or a mental desire to act in a particular way. If property has been mistakenly or accidentally taken, there can be no finding of guilt.

The related charge is theft, which is defined as the act of knowingly or intentionally exercising unauthorized control over property, with the intent to deprive the owner of the use or value of the item. If you have been charged with theft related to shoplifting, the prosecution has a higher burden. It must show both intent to exercise control over an item of merchandise and intent to deprive the owner of it.

Penalties for shoplifting charges can vary depending on the value and type of the items that are involved. For example, a charge for misdemeanor shoplifting can carry a potential sentence of up to one year and a fine of $5,000. However, if the value of the property is over $750, the offense will be considered a felony, with a potential penalty of six months to up to three years. Moreover, if you have any prior shoplifting convictions, it is likely that you will be charged with a felony rather than a misdemeanor.

Indiana state laws allow a store owner or agent to detain suspected shoplifters for a reasonable amount of time. During this legal detention, a store is allowed to ask an individual for identification, determine whether the individual possesses store merchandise, and contact law enforcement. However, it is important to understand that this is prohibited unless there is probable cause to believe that shoplifting is or has occurred. Probable cause is a term meaning a reasonable suspicion, supported by the circumstances, to justify a belief. The issue of probable cause is often debatable, so a qualified attorney can introduce evidence that may undermine the finding of probable cause.

Furthermore, during these types of detention, a store may not request that individuals under 18 years of age make a statement about committing the offense of shoplifting, unless certain circumstances are met. Most importantly, minors must be given the opportunity to consult with their parent or guardian before making a statement.