Indiana Embezzlement Laws

If someone who works as an accountant adds an extra $5,000 to their own bank account each payday and then "cooks the books" in an effort to cover up the theft, it is generally referred to as embezzlement. Most states have separate statutes for embezzlement, which are similar to theft laws except for the requirement that the embezzler be a person in a position of trust (such as the accountant referenced above). Indiana is unique in that offenses typically considered embezzlement are charged as theft. So whether you shoplift or abuse your position of power to transfer funds to your personal account, the charge is theft.

The severity of the charge and punishment upon conviction, however, are based on the value of the property (or the amount of money taken) and whether the defendant has any prior convictions. Indiana's probate code addresses embezzlement from a decedent's estate, in which the perpetrator is held liable for repayment under threat of incarceration.

The basics of Indiana's embezzlement laws, charged as theft in the state's criminal code, are listed in the following table.

Statutes

Indiana Code § 29-1-13-9 [estate embezzlement]

Indiana Code § 35-43-4-1 et seq. [theft]

Statutory Definition of Embezzlement

If a person embezzles or converts to the person's own use the personal property of a decedent before the appointment of a personal representative , the person is liable to the estate for the value of the property embezzled or converted [estate embezzlement].

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 [theft in general].

Classifications & Penalties

Embezzlement from an estate:

  • Civil liability for the amount taken; failure to answer to requests for repayment (or refusal to appear in response to a court order) may result in imprisonment at the discretion of the court.

Theft:

  • Level 6 felony if the value of the property taken is between $750 and $50,000, or if the person has a prior conviction for theft or criminal conversion; 6 mos. to 2 1/2 yrs. in prison, up to a $10,000 fine.
  • Level 5 felony if the value of the property taken is more than $50,000; 1 to 6 yrs. in prison, up to a $10,000 fine.
How Property Value is Determined

For purposes of this section, “the value of property” means:

  1. the fair market value of the property at the time and place the offense was committed; or
  2. if the fair market value of the property cannot be satisfactorily determined, the cost to replace the property within a reasonable time after the offense was committed.

A price tag or price marking on property displayed or offered for sale constitutes prima facie evidence of the value of the property.

*Keep in mind that embezzlement cases typically involve cash

Is Restitution Possible?

Yes

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Indiana Embezzlement Laws: Related Resources

Have You Been Charged with Embezzlement? Get a Free Evaluation of Your Case

Embezzlement is not an easy crime to prove, although email messages or phone records often serve as the "smoking gun" in such cases. For some who have been accused of the crime, it could just be a misunderstanding or a clerical error. In any event, you can get a confidential evaluation of your case by an Indiana criminal defense attorney at absolutely no charge.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

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