Felony & Misdemeanor Theft Charges and Shoplifting Attorney
If you have been accused of theft, shoplifting, fraud, conversion or any other crime involving property, you need an attorney on your side. If convicted, theft charges can follow a person for years and a lawyer can help fight the charges or minimize any potential penalties.
Crimes against property are found in Indiana Code 35-43. Article 43 covers a variety of offenses against property, including arson, criminal mischief (vandalism), theft charges, conversion, fraud, auto theft, unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, check deception and burglary, among others. These crimes are offenses involving the taking or destruction of property, as opposed to crimes against a person, such as battery charges.
Theft & Property Crimes (IC 35-43-4) – Statutes and Sentences
The crime of theft is found in IC 35-43-4-2. Theft is a Class A misdemeanor, carrying a maximum penalty of one-year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine. A person may be found guilty of theft when he or she “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.” (IC 35-43-4-2(a)). This is also often referred to as Shoplifting, when the offense is committed in a store or mall.
If the value of the property alleged to have been taken is at least seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) and less than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) or the property is a firearm, or the person has a prior unrelated conviction for theft or criminal conversion, then the theft charges may be classified as a Level 6 Felony. A Level 6 Felony carries a potential penalty of six (6) months to 2 1/2 years with an advisory sentence of one (1) year. (IC 35-43-4-2(a)(1)).
Additionally, if the value of the property alleged to have been taken is at least fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), or the property that is the subject of the theft is a valuable metal and relates to transportation safety, public safety, or is taken from a hospital or other health care facility, telecommunications provider, public utility or key facility and the absence of the property creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to a person, the theft charges may be filed as a Level 5 Felony. A Level 5 Felony carries a potential penalty range of one (1) to six (6) years with an advisory sentence of three (3) years. (IC 35-43-4-2(a)(2)).
Finally, in some circumstances, a person may be charged with Criminal Conversion (IC 35-43-4-3). This statute is similar to theft, but does not require a showing that the person intended to deprive the victim of the value or use of the property. This is often used as a lesser included offense to felony theft charges. Criminal Conversion is a Class A Misdemeanor. However, in some cases, depending on the facts alleged, the offense may be a felony.
Theft Charges – Additional Potential Consequences
If a person is convicted of theft or conversion (often referred to as shoplifting), or any other property offense, along with any of the obvious criminal penalties such as jail and/or probation, an accused may be required to complete additional requirements. For example, a person convicted of theft charges may be required to pay restitution to the victim for any loss that person suffered, he or she may be ordered to complete counseling or a behavior modification class or be ordered to stay away from the location of the crime.
Moreover, a conviction for theft or shoplifting can also have long term consequences. A person with a conviction for theft may find that future employers are reluctant to make a job offer. Additionally, a person with a felony conviction on their record may be prohibited from living in certain apartment complexes or be denied housing assistance or government assistance, and may also be prohibited from owning a firearm.
Facing Theft Charges? A Lawyer Can Help!
When facing charges for theft or shoplifting, or any other property crimes, it is important to have a lawyer on your side. With so many possible consequences, you need to have an experienced attorney to review the case and explain your options and rights during each stage of the proceedings. Some cases may need to be tried to a judge or jury, some cases may end in a plea agreement and some cases may result with a pretrial diversion offer. Regardless of the outcome, a lawyer can make sure that your rights are protected and you understand the potential penalties and all of your options so you can make an informed decision to resolve your case.
If you are facing theft charges or allegations of shoplifting, conversion or any other property crime, contact Chambers Law Office today to discuss your case and speak with a lawyer about your rights and options. As a former deputy prosecutor, attorney Julie Chambers has experience both prosecuting and defending property crime charges and strives to provide exceptional, personal and affordable representation to each client in every case.