Indiana Embezzlement Laws
Although there are no Indiana embezzlement laws in Indiana criminal code, this offense can generally be understood as a type of financial crime where one or more persons entrusted with the assets, withholds assets for the purpose of converting them. The most common application of embezzlement is the misappropriation of money. For example, a financial advisor may embezzle his clients’ money, which has been entrusted to him, by diverting that money to an account that is completely under his/her control.
Since there are no specific laws contained in Indiana criminal code on embezzlement, these types of criminal acts are tried by courts in a variety of ways, each unique to the context of the specific case. Most often, defendants who have allegedly committed embezzlement are tried under the Indiana theft laws located in Indiana Code 35-43-4-2. However, given that there are no Indiana embezzlement laws in the criminal code, those charged with a similar crime should seek to hire an experienced white collar criminal lawyer in Indiana.
The Indiana criminal defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are particularly well-suited to assist in you building a sound defense. As former deputy prosecutors, our team understands both sides of a white-collar criminal trial and can anticipate how the prosecution may proceed given the circumstances of your specific case. If you want to protect your name, reputation, and most importantly, your freedom, contact our Indianapolis attorneys today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Indiana Code on Embezzlement and Theft
As stated earlier, unlike most states, there are no laws in Indiana criminal code on embezzlement. Therefore, to understand how courts may try a case of embezzlement, one must look to the Indiana theft laws contained in Indiana Code 35-43-4-2. Per Indiana law, one commits the criminal offense of theft when “knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person, with the intent to deprive the other person of any part of its value or use.”
The Difference Between Theft and Conversion in Indiana
Indiana Code 35-43-4-3 defines the criminal offense of conversion in Indiana as “knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person.” As you may be able to see, this definition is very similar to that of theft in Indiana. However, the important distinction to make is that definition of conversion omits the wording, “with the intent to deprive the other person of any part of its value or use.” This means that one may commit the criminal offense of conversion rather than theft if they intend to return the stolen property.
The reason this distinction is important to understand is because given the lack of Indiana embezzlement laws, someone who misappropriated property may face less severe penalties if convicted of conversion rather than theft. However, this would require their Indianapolis theft lawyer to demonstrate that they had no intent to deprive the other person/business of the property and its value or use.
Indiana Embezzlement Laws and Fraud
Since there are clear Indiana embezzlement laws in the criminal code, courts will also typically charge an offender with theft and/or fraud. When it comes to defining fraud, in regard to embezzlement, one would look to Indiana Code 35-43-5-4, which defines fraud as when a person who, with the intent to obtain property or data, or an educational, governmental, or employment benefit to which the person is not entitled, knowingly or intentionally…
- makes a false or misleading statement or creates a false impression in another person
- makes a false or misleading statement, creates a false impression in a third person, or causes to be presented a claim that contains a false or misleading statement; or creates a false or misleading impression in a third person; all while intending to cause another person to obtain property
- possesses, manufactures, uses, or alters a document, instrument, computer program, or device with the intent to obtain property, data, or an educational, governmental or employment benefit to which the person is not entitled to
- Engages in a scheme or artifice to commit an offense mentioned above
The reason that someone who committed a criminal act typically defined as embezzlement would be charged with fraud, as well as theft, is that typically the process of embezzling property traditionally includes an element of fraud. For example, a person who misappropriated funds from their workplace would have most likely also made a false or misleading statement to another person with the intent to obtain the property in question. In a sense, this decision by the prosecution could be considered to be charge stacking, a common but controversial practice that some believe is used to intimidate defendants into accepting a plea deal.
If you’ve been arrested for a crime similar to embezzlement in Indiana, and the charges are beginning to really stack up, you should call an experienced Indiana Theft Lawyer as soon as possible. To speak with one today, feel free to call Keffer Hirschauer LLP at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Potential Penalties for Embezzlement in Indiana
In the absence of Indiana embezzlement laws, a person found guilty of this type of crime would be convicted of either theft, fraud, or a number of other criminal offenses. They may also be convicted of several offenses all at once, such as theft AND fraud. Depending on the severity of the crime, the amount of money that was stolen, and the offender’s criminal past, one could face multiple Level 5 Felonies in Indiana. According to the Indiana Sentencing Guidelines, the advisory sentence for each Level 5 felony is three years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
Penalties Associated with Theft in Indiana
In Indiana, when a person commits theft and the value of the property that was stolen is less than $750, it’s considered a Class A misdemeanor. However, it’s important to understand how property is valued by Indiana courts. Indiana theft laws state that courts shall define the “value of property,” as either the fair market value of the property at the time and place the offense was committed or, if that cannot be determined, the cost to replace the property within a reasonable time after the offense was committed. As stated in Indiana Code 35-43-4-2(b)(2), a price tag or price marking on property displayed or offered for sale constitutes prima facie evidence of the face value of that property.
Per Indiana law, an act of theft becomes a Level 6 felony theft when the property is valued at $750 or more, but less than $50,000. In addition, a person can be charged with a Level 6 felony if the value of the property is less than $750, but the person has a prior, unrelated conviction for theft, criminal conversion, robbery, or burglary.
Furthermore, one may receive a Level 5 felony charge for theft in Indiana when the property that was stolen has a fair market value of $50,000 or more; is a firearm; or is a valuable metal, as defined in Indiana Code 25-37.5-1-1 and relates to transportation safety; public safety; or was taken from a hospital, healthcare facility, telecommunications provider, public utility, or critical infrastructure facility. In Indiana, an offender can also be charged with a Level 5 felony when the property that has been stolen is a motor vehicle, a component part of a motor vehicle (as defined in Indiana Code 9-13-2-34), or the person has a prior, unrelated conviction for theft of a motor vehicle or theft of a component part.
Penalties Associated with Fraud in Indiana
In its most basic form, fraud is considered to be a Class A Misdemeanor in Indiana, which carries a penalty of up to 1 year in prison and a fine of $5000. However, this conviction can be elevated to a Level 6 or Level 5 felony under some circumstances
If one or more of the following apply, the offense is a Level 6 Felony…
- The offense is committed not later than 7 years from the date the person was convicted of a prior unrelated conviction for an offense under this article; or was released from a term of incarceration, probation, or parole (whichever occurred last) imposed for a prior unrelated conviction for an offense under this article
- The pecuniary loss is at least seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) but less than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000)
- The victim is an endangered adult or less than eighteen (18) years of age.
- The person makes a false or misleading statement representing an entity as a disadvantaged business enterprise or a women-owned business enterprise in order to qualify for certification as such an enterprise under a program conducted by a public agency designed to assist disadvantaged business enterprises or women-owned business enterprises in obtaining contracts with public agencies for the provision of goods and services.
- The offense is committed by a person who is confined in the department of correction; a county jail; or a secure juvenile facility
- The document or instrument that the person possesses, manufactures, uses, or alters is a document or instrument issued by a public servant or a governmental entity; that has been manufactured or altered to appear to have been issued by a public servant or a governmental entity; or that the person tendered to, or intends to tender to a public servant or a governmental entity
- The person made a false or misleading statement, or created a false impression in another person, on or by means of a document or impression or written instrument (unless the defendant proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the value of the property, data, or benefit intended to be obtained and the actual pecuniary loss is less than $750)
- The agreement is unconscionable
- The offense involves human reproductive material
If one or more of the following apply, the offense is a Level 5 Felony…
- The pecuniary loss is at least $50,000 and less than $100,000
- The pecuniary loss is at least $750, and the victim is an endangered adult or under the age of 18
- The victim was a financial institution
Need Help Understanding Indiana Embezzlement Laws?
Since there are no specific Indiana embezzlement laws, it can be incredibly challenging to understand which laws apply to that sort of criminal offense and how severe the penalties for that crime may be. In situations where you’ve been arrested for a crime that most would consider to be embezzlement, it would be best to speak with an Indiana criminal defense attorney who has some experience in white collar criminal defense and/or theft crimes.
If you’re in need of an Indianapolis attorney, Keffer Hirschauer LLP is more than equipped to defend you vigorously. As former prosecutors, our criminal defense attorneys have intimate knowledge of Indiana theft laws and white-collar crime. Having worked on both sides of a criminal case, they understand how the prosecution thinks and how the courts decide these specific types of cases.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us today. With an attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP by your side, you’ll have a better chance of securing the most optimal outcome possible in the case against you. Give us a call at 317-751-7186 or complete our online contact form to begin crafting your defense.