The Best Indianapolis Theft Lawyer
When you’ve been arrested for a theft-related crime or have been found in possession of stolen property in Indiana, it can be difficult to understand how to best navigate the criminal justice system and respond to the charges that have been brought against you. Given this, it’s vital that you retain the services of the best possible Indianapolis theft lawyer as soon as possible following your arrest.
If you need to speak with an attorney today, the former deputy prosecutors at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are available to counsel you on how to best respond to the charges brought against you. Our team of seasoned litigators have an intimate understanding of how the prosecution handles cases of this nature, as well as the strategies they may use in this type of situation.
By choosing to work with an Indianapolis theft lawyer at Keffer Hirschauer LLP, you’re making the explicit decision to do everything you can to defend yourself, limit your penalties and protect your freedoms. If you’re ready to begin building your defense, call our criminal defense team today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to get started.
Indianapolis Theft Lawyer: The Basics of Indiana Theft Law
Indiana’s theft laws are contained in Indiana Code 35-43-4-2, and define the criminal offense of theft as, “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.” Although this law may seem rather broad, the statute further defines some of the intricacies of the law. For example, Indiana Code 35-43-4-1 states that “exert control over property,” means to “obtain, take, carry, drive, lead away, conceal, abandon, sell, convey, encumber, or possess property; or to secure, transfer, or extend a right to property.”
In addition, the statue also defines that a person’s control over another person’s property is unauthorized if it is “exerted without the other person’s (or business’s) consent” or “in a manner or to an extent other than that to which the other person (or business) has consented.” For example, this may include:
- Taking property without the owner’s consent
- Taking property in a manner that is different from what the owner consented to
- Failing to disclose an encumbrance or lien
- Creating, confirming or failing to correct a false impression
- Indicating an intent to damage the property
- Promising performance without intent to perform
- Transferring recorded or live performances without permission
If you’ve been charged, or are concerned about being charged, with theft in Indiana, it would be wise to speak with an Indianapolis theft lawyer. They can help you understand the magnitude of the charges against you and how to best proceed forward.
Misdemeanor Theft in Indiana
When property valued at less than $750 is stolen, it shall be considered Class A misdemeanor theft in Indiana. However, value is not always static. Indiana theft laws state that courts shall define the “value of property,” as either the fair market value of the property at the time the offense was committed or 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 the Indiana Sentencing Guidelines contained in Indiana Code 35-50, a Class A Misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Level 6 Felony Theft in Indiana
One of the most common questions that people ask an Indianapolis theft lawyer is: “what is the dollar amount for felony theft in Indiana?” The answer is $750. Per the Indiana law, theft becomes a Level 6 felony when a person exerts unauthorized control over the property of another person, with the intent to deprive the other person of any part of its value or use; AND 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. Per the Indiana Sentencing Guidelines, those charged with Level 6 felony theft in Indiana face up to 2.5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Level 5 Felony Theft in Indiana
Per Indiana theft laws, some offenses can result in a Level 5 felony charge. This can occur 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. Offenders 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. Per the Indiana Sentencing Guidelines, those charged with Level 5 felony theft in Indiana face up to six years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Indiana Theft Lawyer: “Don’t Forget About Collateral Penalties”
Beyond the penalties associated with the convictions listed in Indiana Code 35-43-4-2, those convicted under Indiana theft laws may face additional collateral penalties. Depending on the judge, the law, and the defense mounted by your Indianapolis theft lawyer, these consequences could be rather significant. Collateral penalties for theft in Indiana can include probation, scrutiny placed on a professional license, community service or payment of restitution.
Paying Restitution in Indiana
As stated in Indiana Code 35-40-5-7, property owners may seek financial restitution from a convicted offender for losses resulting from theft in Indiana. If the offender is a minor, the property owner may seek a financial return from the minor’s parents or guardians in certain circumstances. Even if the fair market value of the stolen property wasn’t monumental, it’s important to note that Indiana judges can award up to 3 times the amount of the actual loss. In addition, one may also need to reimburse the property owner for other costs and fees they’ve incurred from the theft. In situations where a judge can order restitution, it’s vital to have a skilled and experienced Indianapolis theft lawyer by your side. With their help, you may be able to limit your financial obligations when paying a restitution order.
Carrying a Criminal Record
The sheer existence of a criminal record can have collateral consequences that affect nearly every part of your life. Having been arrested, charged or convicted of a crime can impact future employment opportunities, school or loan applications, or apartment rentals. Thankfully, Indiana expungement law allows you to seal your criminal records and prevent a theft conviction from having a negative effect on any future convictions, should the occasion arise. If you’ve been convicted under the Indiana theft laws and want to shed the weight of your criminal record, Indiana expungement is something you to discuss with an Indianapolis theft lawyer at Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Beyond our criminal defense team, we employ Indiana expungement and record sealing attorneys who are available to review your record and assist with the expungement process. Call us today at (317) 751-7186 or complete our online contact form.
How an Indianapolis Theft Lawyer Can Help You
When charged under Indiana theft laws, the first thing you should do is hire an Indianapolis theft lawyer. The sooner you do so, the sooner your attorney can begin working on your defense and securing the best possible outcome.
When crafting a defense, a skilled Indianapolis theft lawyer would look at the circumstances of your arrest or charges to see if there are any issues with how the police handled the situation. They should also review the facts of your case, the evidence the State has against you, and begin to craft the best defense possible. There are a variety of possible defenses for charges of theft in Indiana that may negate a critical element of the alleged crime—intent:
Depending on the circumstances of your case, your Indianapolis theft lawyer may attempt to have the charges against you dismissed or reduced; in other cases, they could seek leniency, restitution or the suspension of the possible sentence. They may also look into alternative misdemeanor sentencing and/or Indiana diversion programs, if either applies to your specific situation.
Alternative Misdemeanor Sentencing
Alternative misdemeanor sentencing is a process through which you can seek to convert an offense classified as a Level 6 felony to a Class A misdemeanor. If successful, you would carry a less serious conviction on their criminal record and enjoy the benefits that the lower classification offers.
Depending on the charges, alternative misdemeanor sentencing can be a complex legal avenue to pursue. Indiana Code 35-50-2-7 states that when a person is convicted of a Level 6 felony theft in Indiana, the court may enter judgement of conviction of a Class A misdemeanor theft and sentence accordingly. However, if pursuing this method of alternative misdemeanor sentencing, you cannot have committed a prior, unrelated felony that was reduced using alternative misdemeanor sentencing within the past three years; and the offense at issue cannot be domestic battery or possession of child pornography.
If your conviction is successfully converted under this statute, you cannot be convicted of a felony within five years of the date that the conversion in Indiana occurred. If you are convicted within that time frame, the prosecuting attorney can petition the court to convert your Class A misdemeanor conviction back to a Level 6 felony.
In some situations, Indiana Code 35-50-2-7 may not apply, and your Indianapolis theft lawyer may pursue the alternative misdemeanor actions sentencing avenue provided in Indiana Code 35-38-1-1.5. This statutory provision allows you to have your Level 6 felony converted to Class A misdemeanor, given prosecutor approval and consent of the court. In order to be eligible, under this provision, you must:
- Plead guilty to a Level 6 felony of the type that qualifies for consideration under the statute,
- Agree to the conditions by the court, and
- Consent to the conversion
If you’re able to have your convicted converted under this statute, the court will enter a judgement for a Level 6 felony theft conviction but will later convert it to a Class A misdemeanor theft, provided that you’ve met all the conditions imposed by the court when the agreement was first signed.
If you don’t have any prior offenses, the penalties associated with a theft conviction may seem particularly harsh. Fortunately, Indiana diversion programs may allow for the charges against you to be dismissed. However, these programs require that you participate in a program to the satisfaction of the court.
The availability of diversion programs and eligibility requirements in Indiana are determined county-by-county. Therefore, you should consult with your Indianapolis theft lawyer to better under to better understand if this program is an option for you.
Convicted of Theft? Call an Indianapolis Theft Lawyer Today
If you’ve been convicted of theft in Indianapolis, you’re probably feeling pretty stressed out, like your entire future is in jeopardy. It doesn’t have to be that way. A skilled and experienced Indianapolis theft lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP is ready to begin working on your case.
As former deputy prosecutors, you can feel confident that our criminal defense attorneys understand Indiana theft law inside and out, and how courts treat these types of cases. If you want to begin building the best defense possible, give us a call today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free case consultation.