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COA reaffirms separate convictions for check theft not warranted

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The Indiana Court of Appeals granted the state’s petition for rehearing in a case in which the defendant stole checks from a man’s mailbox, but affirmed its original decision that the taking of the checks and what the defendant did with them constituted a single continuing act of theft.

In April,  the COA reversed several of Sterlen Shane Keller’s theft convictions based on the single larceny rule. He had in his possession a Social Security check and Edward Jones checks that belonged to Robert Collier. He took the checks from Collier’s mailbox on one occasion.

The state argued that Keller made an independent decision to exert control over the three Edward Jones checks by cashing them, which is separate from his taking of the Social Security check from the mailbox.

“Contrary to the State’s assertion, we cannot disregard Keller’s act of taking the checks from the mailbox because that is the point at which Keller began knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over them with the intent to deprive Collier of their value or use,” Judge Michael Barnes wrote in Sterlen Shane Keller v. State of Indiana, 59A01-1206-CR-271.

“Regardless of what Keller did with the checks after he took them — whether he put them in his garage or cashed them — he committed the offense when he took the checks from Collier’s mailbox and from that point on he committed a single continuing act of theft.”

The judges also weren’t persuaded by the state’s argument that its earlier holding disserves the purpose of the single larceny rule: to punish a single criminal design only once.

“To the extent that Keller’s subsequent decision to cash some of the checks he had taken evidenced an additional criminal design, the State could have charged him with the theft of those funds (as opposed to theft of the checks), forgery, or any other applicable offense,” Barnes wrote. “The State’s decision not to charge Keller for the act of cashing the checks further underscores the importance of the charging documents and its contents.”

 

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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