Indiana Theft Crime Attorney
Skilled Theft Crime Defense Lawyer in Indianapolis
Being arrested for a theft-related crime is stressful, but it can be much easier to manage with help from an Indiana theft attorney who can guide you through how to best respond to the charges brought against you.
Keffer Hirschauer LLP has former deputy prosecutors and theft crime lawyers at your disposal to work toward the best possible outcome for you. Working with one of our Indiana theft lawyers assures that you are doing all that you can to defend yourself against theft-related charges, whether your decision is to fight the charges, get them reduced, or make a case for leniency.
Indiana Theft Attorney Explains Theft and Conversion
Conversion is the less serious of the two, and it is covered by Indiana Code § 35-43-4-3. That statute provides that conversion is committed when a person knowingly or intentionally exerts unauthorized control over another person’s property.
Theft is covered by Indiana Code § 35-43-4-2. Although this law sounds much like the conversion statute, the theft statute also requires the State to show that the defendant had the intent to deprive the other person of the value or use of his or her property. Notably, the word “permanently” was removed from the statute in 1971, yet some cases still turn on the issue of whether there was an intent to permanently deprive the other person of the property. This is a good example of why it is useful to have an experienced Indiana theft attorney on your side—one who knows the precise language of the law.
Both conversion and theft require unauthorized control over the property of another. The definition of this term has many potential meanings:
- Without the property owner’s consent
- In a way different than consented to by the property owner
- By transferring or encumbering other property
- By failing to disclose a lien or encumbrance
- By creating or confirming a false impression in the property owner or failing to correct a false impression
- By promising performance that is not going to happen
- By indicating an intent to damage the property
- By transferring recorded or live performances without permission
Types of Indiana Theft Offenses
Even though Indiana uses simplified legal definitions of theft and conversion, you may be charged using terminology that goes beyond the language of the theft and conversion laws:
Regardless of the words used, however, an Indiana court will address theft-related crimes under the theft and conversion statutes.
You may be surprised that robbery is not on this list. Although robbery has some of the same elements as theft and conversion, it is conducted through threat or use of force or fear. This makes it an offense against a person, and these crimes are located in a different section of Indiana’s laws.
Felony or Misdemeanor? Look at Value and Date
Indiana prosecutors can decide whether to charge either misdemeanor theft or conversion, and Indiana theft laws use a system of classes and levels. Significant changes to the Indiana Code mean that an Indiana theft attorney must stay on top of the statutory developments to know which classes and levels will apply to a client and also to be able to recognize quickly when the State, or even a judge, is mistaken as to the current status of the law.
- The value of the items
- The particular version of the theft-related statutes in effect at the time of the offense
Penalties are based upon value, which takes a few things into consideration:
- The fair market value (FMV) of the property at the time of the offense
- Evidence such as a price tag or price marking
- The cost to replace the property within a reasonable time after the offense was committed (if FMV cannot be determined)
It is critical to note that Indiana prosecutors can decide to charge multiple thefts as a single episode in some circumstances. This allows them to aggregate the values of stolen property against a defendant and impact both the level of the crime and the penalty.
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Potential Punishments for Indiana Theft CrimesDetermining what penalties apply to a theft offense is complicated because of drastic reclassifications in the Indiana Code in 2014 and also because of more recent changes effective on July 1, 2019. To understand misdemeanors, take a look at our misdemeanors page, which details Class A, Class B, and Class C misdemeanors, complete with potential punishments. To understand felonies, take a look at our sentence modification page, which explains the six levels of felonies and their corresponding sentencing ranges. There is some statutory guidance in how theft sentences are imposed in Indiana. Advisory sentences provide guidelines a court can choose to consider. The advisory sentence for an offense is provided in the statute listing the sentencing range for that offense. Even if the court uses the advisory sentence, a prior criminal history may make you vulnerable to a sentence enhancement, in which the court can add additional time to the sentence imposed. In such cases, you benefit greatly from counsel with an Indiana theft attorney, who can explore whether expungement is an option so as to remove the taint of a prior conviction and its effect on sentencing for theft. The Indiana expungement and record sealing attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP can advise you whether expungement is an option in your case. In addition to a jail term or prison sentence, other consequences of a conviction for an Indiana theft crime exist. Depending on the judge, the law, and the particular situation, these consequences may be significant or fairly mild. Here are some examples:
- Imposition of probation
- Imposition of fines
- Requirement to pay restitution
- Requirement to do community service
- Creation of a criminal record that may affect future employment opportunities, school applications, or apartment rentals
- Negative impact on a professional license, such as suspension or revocation
- Denial of an immigration visa or permanent residency status or eligibility for naturalization
Defenses to Indiana Theft ChargesAfter reviewing the facts of your case, your Indiana theft attorney will be able to advise you on any potential defenses to the theft charges against you. There are a variety of potential defenses for theft and conversion charges that may negate a critical element of a theft crime—intent:
Special Situation: Shoplifting and Indiana Diversion ProgramsThe penalties of theft and conversion offenses may seem particularly harsh to those without any prior criminal convictions and especially to minors. Shoplifting, for example, is a Class A misdemeanor that can result in fairly stiff penalties:
- Up to 365 days in jail
- Up to a $5,000 fine
Non-Criminal Consequences of ShopliftingSometimes, a person accused of shoplifting may receive what’s called a civil demand notice or letter from an attorney or even the owner of a store. These letters demand payment of money and may threaten a civil lawsuit if payment is not made. These civil lawsuits are separate from criminal proceedings. In the civil lawsuits, store owners seek restitution, which means a financial return for their losses, from a shoplifter or in the case of a minor, from the minor’s parents or guardians. Indiana judges can award up to three times the amount of actual losses plus reimbursement costs and fees incurred. It is critical to consult with an Indiana theft defense attorney who has experience in both criminal defense and civil proceedings and to coordinate defense of simultaneous criminal and civil proceedings.
Increase Your Good Odds: Call an Indiana Theft Attorney
- Ask the right questions about your arrest
- Look for problems with the arrest or charges
- Seek leniency
- Look for restitution opportunities
- Seek suspension of sentences
- Conduct independent investigations
- Seek dismissal or reduction of charges
- See what evidence the police have
- Review the facts of your case
- Explore possible defenses
- Consider and identify available Indiana diversion programs
- Craft a defense
- Negotiate a plea deal
- Ensure that everyone is applying the law correctly