Anytime you take property that does not belong to you, you may be charged and convicted of a theft-related misdemeanor or felony.
Under Indiana Code 35-43-4-2, the elements of theft include:
- Acting knowingly or intentionally.
- Exerting control of another person’s property without authority to do so.
- Intending to deprive the other person of the property (any part of its value or use).
There are several types of theft that may be covered by Indiana law. Some examples of theft-related crimes include:
- Petty theft.
- Theft of a vehicle.
- Credit card theft.
If the offender intends on returning the property, they may be charged with conversion instead of theft.
Will I be charged with a misdemeanor or felony?
The severity of the charges you face will generally depend on the value of the stolen property, prior offenses, and other circumstances relating to the offense (e.g., if a weapon was used). Generally, in Indiana, if the stolen item has a value of less than $750, you may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor theft. A Class A misdemeanor conviction may result in up to one year in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.
If the stolen item has a fair market value of at least $750, you may be charged with a felony. Stolen property valued from $750 to $50,000 may result in a Level 6 felony and face six months to 2.5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the stolen property is valued at more than $50,000, you may face a Level 5 felony, which may result in one to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Defending against theft charges
If you have been charged with a theft offense in Indiana, there are several criminal defense strategies you can use to defend against the charges you are facing. For example, you may be able to establish that you lacked the requisite intent in that you did not intend to permanently deprive the owner of the property. You may also challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution or establish that it was obtained illegally.