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Court upholds conviction for theft of water heater

October 16, 2012

The Indiana Court of Appeals dismissed a man’s argument that he didn’t know he couldn’t take a water heater from an Indianapolis apartment complex to scrap, finding that the evidence supports his theft conviction.

Charles Mitchell and two men were attempting to break up and take a water heater that was in the grass on the property when an apartment employee and the assistant manager told them to stop. The men told Susan Revak, the assistant manager, that a “big Hispanic supervisor” told them they could take it, but no such employee worked for the complex.

The men tried to drive away, but Revak jumped in front of their truck and ordered an employee to call the police. The men pulled over and stopped.

Mitchell was charged with Class D felony theft and Class A misdemeanor criminal mischief, but he was only convicted of theft. Marion Superior Judge Rueben Hill gave him the advisory sentence of one-and-one-half years, with all but 60 days suspended to probation.

Mitchell argued that his conviction can’t stand because he didn’t know the men couldn’t take the water heater. He was relying on information given to him by one of the men, Virgil Jones, who claimed they were allowed to take the heater.

The Court of Appeals pointed out that any belief Mitchell had that he could take the water heater became unreasonable when Revak unequivocally told them that no one with the apartment complex had given permission to take the water heater and to take it out of the truck.

The imposition of the advisory sentence was also appropriate, the judges held, as Mitchell failed to prove otherwise.

The case is Charles Mitchell v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1202-CR-125.

 

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