In the State of Indiana, theft is defined by statute: A person who knowingly or intentionally exerts unauthorized control over property of another person, with intent to deprive the other person of any part of its value or use, commits theft, a Class A misdemeanor.
Basically, theft occurs when someone knowingly or intentionally takes another person’s property without their permission, with the intention to use or keep it for themselves. Anyone charged with theft needs to hire an Indiana criminal lawyer.
Theft: From a Misdemeanor to a Felony
In Indiana, theft starts as a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 365 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. It’s pretty easy, however, for things to get worse. For instance, theft can be charged as a Level 6 felony if the value of the property is at least seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) and less than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000). A Level 6 felony carries a maximum penalty of two-and-a-half years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Theft can also be charged as a Level 6 felony if the stolen property is a motor vehicle (as defined in Indiana Code section 9-13-2-105(a)) or a component part (as defined in Indiana Code section 9-13-2-34) of a motor vehicle. In other words, it’s a felony to steal someone’s vehicle, and it’s also a felony to steal certain specific vehicle parts, including the:
- doghouse (front assembly);
- rear end;
- frame; or
- catalytic converter.
Indiana’s theft statute also provides that prior unrelated convictions can result in a person being charged with a felony. You could be facing a Level 6 felony if you’re currently charged with theft and you have a prior unrelated conviction for:
- criminal conversion under Indiana Code section 35-43-4-3;
- robbery under Indiana Code section 35-42-5-1; or
- burglary under Indiana Code section 35-43-2-1.
More Aggravating Factors
There are four different ways for theft to be charged as a Level 5 felony, which carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. In the first scenario, if the value of the property is at least fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), you can be charged with a Level 5 felony.
Alternatively, a Level 5 felony charge can result if the property that is the subject of the theft is a valuable metal (as defined in Indiana Code section 25-37.5-1-1) and the theft:
- relates to transportation safety;
- relates to public safety; or
- is taken from a hospital or other health care facility, telecommunications provider, public utility (as defined in Indiana Code section 32-24-1-5.9(a)), or critical infrastructure facility; and the absence of the property creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to a person.
You can also be charged with a Level 5 felony if the property is a motor vehicle (as defined in Indiana Code section 9-13-2-105(a)) or a component part (as defined in Indiana Code section 9-13-2-34) of a motor vehicle and you have a prior unrelated conviction for theft of a motor vehicle (as defined in Indiana Code section 9-13-2-105(a)) or theft of a component part (as defined in Indiana Code section 9-13-2-34).
Finally, if the stolen property is a firearm, that’s also a Level 5 felony charge. A firearm means any weapon that is capable of expelling, designed to expel, or that may readily be converted to expel a projectile by means of an explosion.
Make the Right Call
Theft charges are serious, but that’s no reason to panic. What you need to do is call and consult with an experienced Indiana criminal lawyer. The Marc Lopez Law Firm defends clients against all sorts of criminal charges, and we are here to help. Give us a call at 317-632-3642 and remember–always plead the 5th!