Theft, Check Fraud & Conversion

There is unfortunately wide latitude in how these offenses are often filed.  What can be a decision by one Department or Grocery Store not to file any charge against a first time offender, can also be another decision under virtually identical conditions to file a Class A Misdemeanor Conversion/Shoplifting ( 0 days to one year in jail) or worse a Class D Felony Theft (6 months to 3 years in jail) .   ( These are some of the areas of the law that are being addressed in the forthcoming new Indiana Criminal Code – but at this time, the latitude remains entirely too elastic.)

The same applies to the weight chosen or given by various offices of Prosecuting Attorneys to pursue (or not pursue) checks written with insufficient funds in the account.    The period of time allowed for ‘making the check right’ can be surprisingly brief by some offices before the decision to file a Criminal Offense is made and the person is now facing the criminal justice system.

Getting an experienced attorney in on this process …sooner rather than later….can be one of the more constructive and long-term benefical decisons you can make.  There is also wide latitude for the Prosecution to ‘withhold judgment’ on such cases until the person is able to take care of that bounced check, or to allow a person who simply never should have written that check to successfully complete a ‘diversion program’ which will result in no conviction.

There is probably no area of the law in Indiana which has been more in need of updating and restructuring.   We would encourage you to review the new Indiana Code Sections for these various provisions to see the proposed changes which are about to take place effective July of 2014.  The result will hopefully  be the much needed uniformity this area of the law has needed for some time.   We will be highlighting the new Indiana Criminal Code herein as we get nearer and nearer to the effective date.

An example which outlines various “Levels of Felony” versus the old A-D Felony categories we have used for decades is demonstrated in the Theft, Conversion, Receiving Stolen Property, I.C. 35-43-5 et. seq.

A much needed version (a)  vs.  version( b ) for Theft clearly delineates that the value of the property, to be permitted to be filed as a Class D Felony, must soon exceed $750.00.     That has not been the case for years, allowing entirely too much discretion and/or  overcharging Defendants at will.