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What is shoplifting in Indiana?

On Behalf of | Dec 26, 2023 | Property Crimes

Shoplifting in Indiana revolves around the intent to permanently deprive a store of merchandise without paying the stated price. It’s a crime often viewed as minor by the general public, but it carries significant legal consequences. Collateral consequences are also possible with these convictions.

At its core, shoplifting involves taking merchandise from a retail establishment without intending to pay for it. This could be as straightforward as concealing an item and walking out of the store, but it also encompasses other methods such as price tag switching. This occurs when someone switches a sale tag, price sticker or barcode out with one for a less expensive item.

Sentences for shoplifting

The sentences for shoplifting in Indiana vary based on the value of the stolen goods and the individual’s criminal history. Indiana law categorizes theft, including shoplifting, into either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on these factors.

The offense is typically classified as a misdemeanor for items valued at less than $750. This could result in penalties such as fines, probation or even jail time. There might be options for diversion programs or community service instead of harsher sentences for first-time offenders.

When the value of the stolen items exceeds $750, or if the individual has a prior theft conviction, the crime escalates to a felony. Felony charges carry more severe consequences, including longer incarceration sentences and higher fines. These penalties serve as a deterrent and as a means of retribution and rehabilitation.

Collateral consequences

The legal implications of shoplifting extend beyond just criminal sentencing. A conviction can have long-term effects on an individual’s life, that impacts their employment opportunities, housing options and social relationships. If the conviction was a felony, it can affect other areas of life, including the ability to own a firearm and the ability to vote.

Defendants in these cases should ensure they understand how the facts of their case may impact the sentence. This may play a role in the defense strategy they use. Working with someone familiar with these matters may be beneficial.