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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Hicks

Using Evidence in Theft Cases: Understanding Indiana Code IC 35-43-4-4

When you find yourself facing a theft charge in the state of Indiana, it's crucial to understand the laws that govern how evidence can be used in your case. One such law that plays a significant role in theft cases is Indiana Code IC 35-43-4-4. This statute outlines the types of evidence that can be presented in court, which can either support or challenge the allegations against you.

Prima Facie Evidence of Value and Ownership

IC 35-43-4-4(a) establishes that the price tag or price marking on property displayed or offered for sale constitutes prima facie evidence of the value and ownership of the property. In other words, if you are accused of theft, the price tag or marking on the property can be used as initial evidence of its value and who owns it.

Intent to Deprive the Owner

Subsection (b) of IC 35-43-4-4 pertains to evidence of intent. It states that evidence that a person altered, substituted, or transferred a universal product code (UPC) or another product identification code, label, price tag, or price marking on property displayed or offered for sale or hire, or transferred property from its original package to another, constitutes prima facie evidence of intent to deprive the owner of the property of a part of its value. This means that such actions can be used as evidence that you intended to take control of the property without authorization.

Unauthorized Control and Concealment

Subsection (c) focuses on evidence of unauthorized control over property. If a person concealed property displayed or offered for sale or hire and removed it from the business premises beyond the point where payment should be made, it can be used as prima facie evidence of intent to deprive the owner of the property's value. In essence, if you concealed property and moved it away from where it should be paid for, this can be evidence of unauthorized control.

Failure to Perform as Promised

IC 35-43-4-4(d) clarifies that evidence of failure to perform as promised, by itself, does not constitute evidence that the promisor knew that the promise would not be fulfilled. In theft cases, it's important to differentiate between a breach of promise and an intention to steal.

Writing Bad Checks

Subsection (e) addresses the use of insufficient funds when making checks. If a person writes a check with insufficient funds and is aware that the credit institution will refuse payment, it can be inferred that they intended to deprive the owner of property. This highlights the significance of financial transactions and their implications in theft cases.

Property Rental Agreements

IC 35-43-4-4(f) specifies that if you fail to return rented or leased property within seventy-two hours after the agreed time, it is prima facie evidence that you exerted unauthorized control over the property. This is a critical consideration for those involved in rental agreements.

Use of Photographs as Evidence

Under subsection (g), a judge may find that a photograph of the property is competent evidence, even if it's impractical to introduce the actual property. This can be essential when the property's size, weight, or availability makes it challenging to present in court. If a photograph serves the purpose of demonstrating the nature of the property and complies with other rules of evidence, it can be admitted.

Return of Property by Law Enforcement

Finally, IC 35-43-4-4(h) allows a law enforcement agency to return property to its owner if certain conditions are met, including the property being photographed in a manner that demonstrates its nature. This can apply in cases where the property's evidence is no longer required for legal proceedings.

In conclusion, Indiana Code IC 35-43-4-4 plays a pivotal role in theft cases, as it outlines the types of evidence that can be presented in court. It is essential to understand these provisions and how they might apply to your situation if you are facing theft charges in Indiana. Always consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to navigate your case effectively and ensure your rights are protected.

Learn more about Indiana theft laws here

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