Since the indefinite absence of funds or property is a critical element of thievery, many people believe that taking another person’s property for a short period of time will have no consequences. However, “borrowing” or using an object without the permission of the owner does have repercussions. This crime, known as criminal conversion, is taken very seriously. It can be labeled as a misdemeanor or felony that carries fines and years in prison.
If you have been charged with criminal conversion, you may feel as if you are being unfairly accused. Our Indiana theft lawyers at Hessler Law understand how stressful these situations can be. As a criminal defense attorney, Sean Hessler is dedicated to giving a voice to those who would otherwise go unheard. He will do whatever it takes to tell your side of the story.
To find out how you can avoid spending time behind bars, call (317) 886-8800 immediately.
Conversion Versus Theft
According to the Indiana criminal code, criminal conversion involves knowingly and intentionally taking temporary control of another person’s property. This can include personal property, such as cars, as well as houses and pieces of land. For example, if a person decides to squat at a vacant home that is owned by someone else, they may be accused of taking temporary control. Conversion differs from theft in that the perpetrator does not have the intention of permanently depriving the owner of possession. However, as of 2014, stealing an item worth less than $750, otherwise known as petty theft, is considered to be a Class A misdemeanor and is punished in the exact same way as criminal conversion.
While this crime is normally treated as a Class A misdemeanor, there are certain case elements, known as aggravating factors, that can result in a felony charge. For example, if a person temporarily steals a car with the intention of committing a crime, the offense may be elevated to a Level 5 felony. Criminal conversion can be upgraded to a Level 6 felony if:
- The person first acquires the object or property through a lease
- The property in question is a motorized vehicle
- The person does not return the property after a written borrower’s agreement has been established
Penalties and Life-Long Consequences of Criminal Conversion
While there is a wide range of penalties that can be assigned for a criminal conversion conviction, some are more common than others. The consequences of being found guilty largely depend on the circumstances surrounding the crime, such as whether the offense is being treated as a misdemeanor or a felony. The penalties assigned for this offense include, but are not limited to:
- Criminal Conversion/Petty Theft (Class A Misdemeanor) – A fine of up to $5,000 and up to one year in county jail
- Criminal Conversion (Class 6 Felony) – A fine of up to $10,000 and up to 2.5 years in state prison
- Criminal Conversion (Class 5 Felony) – A fine of up to $10,000 and up to six years in state prison
Being convicted of a criminal conversion can have an impact that outlives your time spent in prison. For example, having a criminal record may make it impossible to find a steady job. Employers tend to not trust those who have been found guilty of stealing. It might also be difficult to continue your education, or to switch fields by going into a job training program.
How Hessler Law, PC Can Help
While nothing can reverse being arrested for a crime, it may be possible to avoid the penalties that come with a guilty verdict. A skilled defense attorney can employ many strategies to prove that you were unfairly accused. For example, it might be the case that you have a written agreement with the person whose property you were accused of stealing. If this can be produced, it may be possible to get you charges dismissed. It might also be possible to point out blatant police misconduct. This might take the form of abuse or having your house searched without a warrant.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your case, our Indiana theft attorneys at Hessler Law can represent your interests in a professional and convincing manner. With years of experience in defending peoples’ freedom, attorney Sean Hessler will do whatever it takes to prove your innocence, whether it involves uncovering evidence or launching an independent investigation. He will not stop fighting for you.