Possession of Stolen Property in Indiana
Possession of stolen property in Indiana is a serious crime and is one that many offenders don’t recognize the seriousness of until they’ve been charged. Why? Well, even if you didn’t steal the property yourself, receiving stolen property in Indiana is a punishable offense, in and of itself. This is clearly stated in the Indiana theft laws found in Indiana Code 35-43-4-2, which defines 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.”
Furthermore, Indiana Code 35-43-4-1 defines the phrase “exert control over property,” as 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.” It also defines the act of “receiving” stolen property as “acquiring possession or control of or title to property, or lending on the security of property.” Given these definitions, receiving or possessing stolen property in Indiana clearly fits the definition of theft, even if you did not commit the act of stealing yourself.
If you’ve been found in possession of stolen property in Indiana, it’s best to retain the services of a skilled and experienced Indiana theft crimes lawyer. The Indianapolis law firm of Keffer Hirschauer LLP employs a team of former deputy prosecutors who have a deep familiarity with how these types of cases are tried in Indiana court. Our team will do everything we can to secure the best possible outcome in your case, whether that means aggressively fighting the charges, having them reduced, or making the case for leniency. To begin working on your defense, call Keffer Hirschauer LLP at (317) 751-7186 or complete our online contact form today.
Penalties for the Possession of Stolen Property in Indiana
If you’ve been found in possession of stolen property in Indiana, and that property is valued at less than $750, it shall be considered Class A misdemeanor theft. However, it’s vital to fully understand how property is valued by Indiana courts. According to Indiana law, 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. In addition, 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.
When someone is found in possession of stolen property in Indiana, and the value of that property exceeds $750, they will face much more serious criminal penalties. Per the Indiana theft laws contained in Indiana Code 35-43-4-2, when someone has knowingly received or is found in possession of stolen property that is valued at $750 or more, but less than $50,000, they may be charged with a Level 6 Felony. Furthermore, 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.
In some cases, a person who knowingly or intentionally receives or is found in possession of stolen property in Indiana can be charged with a Level 5 felony. This occurs when the fair market value of the stolen property is either over $50,000; 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 addition, when a person is found in knowing or intentional possession of a stolen car, 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, they can be charged with a Level 5 Felony in Indiana.
The penalties for convictions related to the possession of stolen property in Indiana are reflected in the Indiana sentencing guidelines. Generally, those charged with the lowest level offense under the Indiana theft laws may face up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine. However, those charged with Level 5 or Level 6 felony theft face more serious consequences, including a maximum of 2.5-6 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. To avoid the most serious penalties, it’s important to hire the best Indianapolis criminal defense attorney possible. To speak with one today, call the Indianapolis law offices of Keffer Hirschauer LLP at (317) 751-7186 or complete our online contact form today to schedule a free case consultation.
Beyond the penalties associated with the convictions listed in Indiana Code 35-43-4-2, those convicted of possessing stolen property in Indiana may face additional collateral penalties. Depending on the specific judge and the context of the crime, these consequences could be rather significant, such as probation or scrutiny placed upon a professional license in Indiana. In other cases, the collateral consequences could be mild, such as community service or simply paying restitution.
It’s important to note that under Indiana Code 35-40-5-7, property owners may seek financial returns for their losses from someone convicted of 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 huge, Indiana judges have the discretion to award up to 3 times the amount of actual losses, in addition to requiring that the offender reimburse the victim for costs and fees they’ve incurred since the loss of property.
The Importance of Hiring an Indiana Theft Attorney
When you’ve been charged with the possession of stolen property in Indiana, it’s important to hire a skilled Indiana theft attorney as soon as possible. This will allow them ample time to begin working on your defense and doing everything in their power to secure the best possible outcome, given the severity of the changes placed upon you. When building a defense strategy for a client charged with the possession of stolen property, an experienced defense attorney would first look at the circumstances of your arrest to see if there are any issues with how the police handled the situation. Your attorney may also review the facts of your case, the evidence that the prosecution plans to use, and the context of how you came to possess the stolen property in question. Once they’ve established all of the facts surrounding your case, they may deploy a strategy based on your rights under the US Constitution or Indiana Constitution, or based on the evidence (or lack thereof) the prosecution plans to use in your case. Several examples of these defenses include:
- Showing that an unreasonable search and seizure has occurred, which warrants the suppression of evidence, based on the Indiana Constitution, Article I, Section 11
- Demonstrating that the state’s allegation of constructive possession of stolen property, beyond a reasonable doubt, is not clearly supported by the evidence they’ve set forth
- Clearly showing that state’s case against you relies solely on circumstantial evidence
In some cases, your attorney may determine that it’s best to try to have the charges against you dismissed or reduced; while in other cases, they may seek leniency, restitution or suspension of your possible sentence. A sound defense attorney would also explore the possibility of Indiana diversion programs and alternative misdemeanor sentencing, if applicable to your specific situation.
If this is your first offense, the penalties associated with a conviction for the possession of stolen property in Indiana may rather harsh. Thankfully, Indiana diversion programs allow for first-time offenders to have the charges against them dismissed. However, these programs would require you to participate in the program to the satisfaction of the court AND the program. Furthermore, the availability of diversion programs in Indiana, as well as the requirements, are determined county-by-county. Given this, it’s important to consult with an experienced Indiana theft attorney to better understand if this type of program would be an option for you.
Alternative Misdemeanor Sentencing
Indiana alternative misdemeanor sentencing is a process through which you can seek to convert 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. For example, a Level 6 felony carries a penalty of 6 months to 2.5 years in prison, while a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 1-year in prison and a $5,000 fine.
If granted alternative misdemeanor sentencing, you would be able to avoid a 2.5-year prison sentence, as well as the collateral consequences associated with a felony conviction. However, depending on the severity of the charges, this can be a rather complex legal avenue to pursue, and often requires assistance from an Indiana defense attorney with extensive experience pursuing alternative misdemeanor sentencing for their clients.
Facing Charges of Possession of Stolen Property?
If you’ve been arrested for the possession of stolen property in Indiana, the theft crime defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are equipped to defend you vigorously. You can feel confident partnering with our criminal defense attorneys, as they have intimate knowledge of how theft crimes are prosecuted, stemming from their past employment as deputy prosecutors. Having worked on both sides of a criminal case, they understand how the prosecution thinks and how the courts decide these types of cases. With an Indianapolis theft lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP by your side, you’ll have a better chance of having your charges reduced or dismissed completely. Give us a call today at 317-751-7186 or complete our online contact form to begin crafting your defense.