Divisions of theft charges in Indiana

On Behalf of | Sep 9, 2022 | Criminal Defense

You could be forgiven for thinking that all thefts are basically the same: When a person takes something that doesn’t belong to them, that’s theft. In a broad sense, this is true, but the law treats theft as a category of offenses, with different charges and potential penalties depending on the circumstances.

If you have been accused of theft, the exact details of your case can make a big difference to the charges filed against you and the possible consequences of a conviction.

Definition under Indiana law

Indiana law defines theft as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person, with the intention of depriving that person of its value. Technically, any behavior that meets this definition is theft, and can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor.

However, there are many factors that can raise the stakes in a theft case so that it is treated as a felony, punishable by a year or more behind bars. Furthermore, there are at least a couple levels of felony theft charges.

If the value of the property was between $750 and $50,000, the crime is considered a Level 6 felony, punishable by up to two and a half years in prison. If the value was over $50,000, the theft is considered a Level 5 felony, punishable by up to 6 years in prison.

Other types of theft

You may have noticed that the definition above doesn’t say anything about violence, threats of violence, breaking and entering or even whether the defendant has to see the victim face-to-face. With that in mind, you can see how a lot of other charges can fall under the umbrella of theft.

For instance, imagine a case where a defendant is accused of brandishing a gun and threatening to shoot other person unless they handed over their money, and then taking that money. This defendant could be charged with robbery, assault and weapons charges as well as theft.

Non-violent offenses such as fraud and embezzlement may also be types of theft.

Federal charges

It’s also important to note that a wide range of theft crimes can fall under federal law. Many federal theft charges are treated differently depending on the official role of the accused or the purpose of the property.

For instance, anyone found guilty of stealing public money, property or records from the U.S. government can face fines and up to 10 years imprisonment. Likewise, any officer of employee of a U.S. government agency who is found guilty of stealing the property that comes into their possession in the course of their employment can face imprisonment of up to 10 years.

Defending your rights

Everyone who is accused of a crime is entitled to a defense. To build an effective defense strategy, you need to tailor your arguments to the exact charges against you. An experienced criminal defense attorney can advise you on your options.