I am SO sorry that your daughter finds herself in this HORRIBLE situation.
Just because she has been charged DOES NOT mean that she is guilty! In order to find your daughter guilty of the crime of shoplifting (or conversion), the prosecutor MUST prove EACH AND EVERY element of the crime BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT.
In Indiana, shoplifting falls under the broad definitions of theft
conversion. Anyone who knowingly or intentionally exerts unauthorized control over someone else’s property commits conversion, and anyone who does so with the intent to deprive the other person of the property’s value or use commits theft.
In cases of first-time offenses, or when the value of the property is low, the prosecutor can decide to charge the offender with conversion, a Class A misdemeanor
. In more serious cases, the prosecutor can charge the shoplifter with Class C or Class D felony theft, depending on the value of the merchandise. Criminal and civil penalties for shoplifting are described below.
Indiana's Criminal Shoplifting Penalties
Shoplifting property with a total value under a certain value (at discretion of prosecutor)
Criminal conversion (Class A misdemeanor)
Fines up to $5,000; up to one year of imprisonment
Also, if she were convicted, she can be sued in a civil action by a victimized merchant for up to three times the actual damages (with a minimum award of $100), attorney fees, and costs related to the lawsuit.
THE GOOD NEWS is that in order for her to be found guilty, as I stated, the prosecutor must prove EACH AND EVERY ELEMENT of the crime BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT. That is a VERY high burden.The prosecutor would have to prove that your daughter knowingly or intentionally exerts unauthorized control over someone else’s property commits conversion, and anyone who does so with the intent to deprive the other person of the property’s value or use commits theft.
From the facts in your post, your daughter had NO knowledge of the cashier's MISTAKE. She did NOT knowingly or intentionally intend to deprive the store of its merchandise. That being so, especially if there is a video, the prosecutor wouldn't be able to prove knowledge or intent.
A theft crime carries HORRIBLE consequences (not only financially and with the risk of jail), but even more far reaching problems. If your daughter has a theft conviction on her record, it will be difficult for her to obtain employment, she may be prohibited from obtaining certain professional licenses, and may also not be able to obtain student loans (or she may lose any that she has) or enter into some graduate programs.
Therefore, your daughter REALLY needs to speak to an attorney ASAP! Sometimes, an initial consultation is free or at a minimal charge. She can discuss the facts of her case, evaluate her options and decide how to proceed.
Below is a link to the Indianapolis Bar Association Attorney Referral Page. Even if you do not live in that area, you may still be referred to an attorney in your area.
If your daughter can't afford to hire an attorney, she can ask the judge to appoint her a public defender. In any event, she REALLY needs the assistance of an attorney. There is way too much at stake for her to try to handle this on her own.
I hope you find this information useful.
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