What Is Theft?
In the state of Indiana, a property theft crime occurs when a person takes property or services without consent, by deceit, by coercion, or with the intent to deprive the owner of compensation. Therefore, theft could be stealing a TV from an electronics store, or it could be eating a meal and leaving without paying.
What are the Penalties for Theft in Indiana?
In Indiana, theft is a Class A misdemeanor if the value of the property is less than $750. The penalty for Class A misdemeanor is up to 1 yr. in jail, probation, possible community service, it can include restitution and up to a $5,000 fine as well as court costs.
If the value of the property taken is between $750 and $50,000, or if the person has a prior conviction for theft or criminal conversion; the crime is treated as a Level 6 felony. In Indiana, a Level 6 Felony comes with a minimum of 6 months in jail to 2 1/2 years in prison, probation, possible community service, potential restitution and up to a $10,000 fine as well as court costs.
What Are the Possible Defenses to Theft?
If you hire a criminal defense attorney to fight your case, they will have many angles from which to argue your innocence. Let’s discuss a few of the common defenses to theft in Indiana.
Claim of Ownership Defense
For example, if an individual had been accused of stealing property, they might try a “claim of ownership” defense. For a successful defense, an individual would not only have to prove in good faith belief that the property was theirs. If an individual came to the realization that a piece of property was not in fact owned by that individual and returned the item as soon as possible. Often, the defense lawyer can help to reduce the penalties, or to possibly receive a dismissal.
Another defense to theft is based on whether or not the person accused of the theft was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time. With the intoxication defense, your criminal defense attorney will try to prove that theft was a result in impaired reasonable judgement under:
- Effects of alcohol
Now it is important that this defense will require proof of your intoxication, and the attorney must be careful not to prove you were not publicly intoxicated at the time, which is its own criminal offense.
To constitute a completed theft, the property must be asported or carried away. In order for asportation to occur, asportation requires that the following three things have happened:
- The goods are severed from the possession of the owner
- The goods are in the complete possession of the thief or thieves
- The property is moved, however slightly.
With that in mind, if the property or item was never taken from the owner, or ever in complete possession of the defendant, or the property was never moved by the defendant, then legally, there cannot be a completed theft. Therefore, a theft has not occurred.
Do You Need an Attorney for Theft Defenses
If you were accused of a criminal offense such as theft, you need to hire the best attorney available for a proper theft defense. Give our office a call as soon as possible to have an expert attorney give you a free consultation today at 317-500-4857. If you are unfortunately convicted of a theft offense in Indiana, you need to contact an expungements lawyer, and we represent our clients regularly in Indiana expungements.