Knox, IN asked in Criminal Law for Indiana

Q: Charged with Class D Felony for Theft. Friend lied to me and said we had permission to take the scrap metal.

I was asked by my friend to go "scrapping"(collecting metal and taking it to a scrap yard for money) with him. He drove me to a property where he claimed he had permission from the owners to take the scrap metal off their property and take it to the scrap yard. So me and my friend started loading it into his truck. Shortly after, the neighbors showed up and called the police because they said we were stealing it illegally. Me and my friend went to jail and got charged with a class D felony for Theft. Like i said, i had no idea that we were doing it illegally. My "friend" had lied to me about having permission just to get me to help him do it. I am asking for someone's help and advice on what i should do and if there is anyway i can get out of this charge that i should NOT have. I believe my "friend" will admit to him lying to me about having permission and tell them that i had no idea we were doing it illegally. Please someone get back to me as soon as possible. Thanks.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Gojko Kasich
Gojko Kasich
  • Hebron, IN
  • Licensed in Indiana

A: To be convicted in Indiana, you either have to KNOWINGLY OR INTENTIONALLY "exert control" over someone else's property WITHOUT permission.

However, understand, that theft is very often based on circumstantial evidence .. . so if you have, for example, snuck under a security fence because your pal told you HIS property was inside the fence .. . most "reasonable" people would conclude that you had a very good idea that what you were doing was wrong.

Here are the relevant Indiana statutes:

IC 35-43-4-1 Definitions

Sec. 1. (a) As used in this chapter, "exert control over property" means to obtain, take, carry, drive, lead away, conceal, abandon, sell, convey, encumber, or possess property, or to secure, transfer, or extend a right to property.

(b) Under this chapter, a person's control over property of another person is "unauthorized" if it is exerted:

(1) without the other person's consent;

(2) in a manner or to an extent other than that to which the other person has consented;

(3) by transferring or encumbering other property while failing to disclose a lien, adverse claim, or other legal impediment to the enjoyment of that other property;

(4) by creating or confirming a false impression in the other person;

(5) by failing to correct a false impression that the person knows is influencing the other person, if the person stands in a relationship of special trust to the other person;

(6) by promising performance that the person knows will not be performed;

(7) by expressing an intention to damage the property or impair the rights of any other person; or

(8) by transferring or reproducing:

(A) recorded sounds; or

(B) a live performance;

without consent of the owner of the master recording or the live performance, with intent to distribute the reproductions for a profit.

(c) As used in this chapter, "receiving" means acquiring possession or control of or title to property, or lending on the security of property.

IC 35-43-4-2 Theft; receiving stolen property

Sec. 2. (a) 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 D felony. However, the offense is a Class C felony if:

(1) the fair market value of the property is at least one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000); or

(2) the property that is the subject of the theft is a valuable metal (as defined in IC 25-37.5-1-1) and:

(A) relates to transportation safety;

(B) relates to public safety; or

(C) is taken from a:

(i) hospital or other health care facility;

(ii) telecommunications provider;

(iii) public utility (as defined in IC 32-24-1-5.9(a)); or

(iv) key facility;

and the absence of the property creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to a person.

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