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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    16

    Exclamation What to Do While Waiting for a Summons for Shoplifting

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Indiana
    Was caught shoplifting at K**** was detained by LP and police were called. I was not "arrested" and was let go but was told I would receive a court summons in the mail and a bill for the merchandise (which I assume is a civil demand) The value of the merchandise was around $100-300 After reading and many many forums, articles, this is what I know so far.

    1. The department store is charging me and filing a report. (because they are sending me a court summons letter in the mail) Is this correct?
    Does this mean it will go on my record?

    2. The civil demand, if I do receive one should I pay it? I'm a student and budget is really tight. There's really no way I would be able to pay the amount they are going to say without asking my parents for the money. (Which I would like to avoid)

    3. I cannot afford a lawyer, am I eligible to request a public defender? I've read that hiring a lawyer shows you knew your mistake was serious and that you care, also read having parents show up is good (however isn't this just for minor under 18 years of age?)

    4. What exactly happens at a court summons? Is it like a trial where you plead guilty or not guilty?

    5. In the LP office I admitted to stealing, how will this affect the court case? Should I plead not guilty or guilty then? My county has a diversion program, and its requirements are that your record is clean. This is my first offense. My record is clean. However is it the judge that decides whether or not the result of the case be a diversion program?

    I need help. I know I made a grave mistake, and I don't want this to affect my future career and educational opportunities.
    Thanks all for your time and help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,808

    Default Re: Next Steps

    You made a mistake and you don't want it to affect your future career and educational ops. Well, guess what....should have thought of that sooner. Because this will be on your record for a period of time (depends on the final disposition of your case - if you get a Diversion Program and complete it successfully, it will come off sooner rather than later, and in some states - never).

    I know from experience. I am not a lawyer, I'm a person who shoplifted, came here for help, and volunteer my time here. It really messed up job ops for more 5 years, until I was able to get my record expunged (in my state, you have to wait 5 years to apply).

    And if you want a better outcome....you might want to ask mom and dad to loan you a few thousand dollars for Civil Demand, Lawyer, and Court Costs/Fines.

    1: Yes, a conviction will go on your record.
    Now...the fun. Indiana....you better figure out the exact amount of what you stole. Because up to $250 is a Class A Misdeameanor....anything over $250 is a Class D Felony. Felony is more serious.

    2. Well...let's see....if you don't pay it, they can then take you to Civil Court as well as the Criminal Court case. And when they win...well, the amount will have gone up significantly.

    3. You can ask for a Public Defender. That will depend on your finances. Are you living at home? If so, your parents finances may be taken into consideration.
    - Parents showing up is a requirement for minors.

    4. Court date: you will plead not guilty and ask for a public defender. You ask the Public Defender about any first time offenders programs, diversion programs, that may be available. PS: Do expect to pay for this privilege. And also, the P.D. is not free, there is a fee involved.

    5. They do have a solid case against you. Read #4 - you plead not guilty because it is your legal right. This leaves space for a Plea Deal to be offered to you. The prosecutor may make an offer, and the judge signs off on it.

    Now when you go court, a few basic things.

    - Remove any piercings, cover any tattoos.
    - Dress nice.
    - Don't smoke beforehand.
    - The judge is "your honor".
    - Can't tell if you are male or female...keep makeup to a bare minimum.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    19,901

    Default Re: Next Steps

    The department store is not charging you and sending you a criminal summons. The state is. If this has been done, prosecution is in progress and it's really out of the store's hands at this point. If you are convicted it will have severe implications even as a misdemeanor. You can pay the civil demand or not as you see fit. Some attorney's advise against paying the civil demand as these rarely go to civil court. That's up to you.
    Your parents are welcome to go with you but it's not going to make any difference to your case. What you should not do is bring children with you.

    Other than that listen to what Pandora has said. She's been through this.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,808

    Default Re: Next Steps

    PS: The prosecutor and judge will take note of the amount stolen. $100-300, this is not your first time shoplifting, it's your first time being CAUGHT shoplifting.

    Next: Stay out of all K-Marts, you are likely banned.

    And...learn to shop. Why is a broke college student shopping there? They have the highest prices....go to WalMart, you really will get the same items a lot cheaper.

    - - - Updated - - -

    One more....my lawyer recommended paying the Civil Demand...it showed the judge I was taking responsibility for my actions.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Next Steps

    Quote Quoting PandorasBox
    View Post
    PS: The prosecutor and judge will take note of the amount stolen. $100-300, this is not your first time shoplifting, it's your first time being CAUGHT shoplifting.

    Next: Stay out of all K-Marts, you are likely banned.

    And...learn to shop. Why is a broke college student shopping there? They have the highest prices....go to WalMart, you really will get the same items a lot cheaper.

    - - - Updated - - -

    One more....my lawyer recommended paying the Civil Demand...it showed the judge I was taking responsibility for my actions.
    Alright look i'm not looking for anymore shame or harassment. This was my FIRST time, and will be my last. I have been a law abiding citizen before this incident.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,808

    Default Re: Next Steps

    I'm just saying...

    If you're poor, that ain't the place to shop. Learn to clip coupons, watch the various store ads, etc. Aldi, not a huge selection, but good prices.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Posts
    441

    Default Re: Next Steps

    Quote Quoting witchita
    View Post
    Alright look i'm not looking for anymore shame or harassment. This was my FIRST time, and will be my last. I have been a law abiding citizen before this incident.
    When you ask for advice, YOU don't get to decide how people will respond to you. You can ask your questions and the answers you get are the answers you get.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Next Steps

    NEW UPDATE: I received a civil demand letter asking for $100. Should I pay or not?? My lawyer said that if they file a civil lawsuit, that they would definitely win because they have substantial evidence to win ( I was caught)... however I've read overwhelming amounts of legal advice from lawyers that advice NOT to pay it. I know usually the retail can charge you 2x 3x the amount you took, would it be smart just to pay the $100 and eliminate the risk? What's the actual probability that they would file a lawsuit over $100?? Is it worth paying the $100 to avoid the additional harassment letters demanding more money??

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    19,901

    Default Re: Next Steps

    The question is whether you want to call their bluff as to whether they will pursue you in civil court. Many legal sites do advocate not paying but others point out there have been some stores that have realized that people regard this as an idle threat and have done so just to keep the teeth in the letters.

    You've gotta ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    6,808

    Default Re: Next Steps

    If you don't pay it, they can sue you in Civil Court, and add in their lawyers fees ($200+/hour)

    In my case, my lawyer advised me to pay it, and brought it to court to show the judge I was taking responsibility.

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