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Court upholds conviction for theft of water heater

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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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  • Really, bad use of system
    Who is the lawyer and where did a theft get COA funds for a water heater theft? I have had six burglaries at a retail location and can't get a police report updated, any items back, a police investigation. This has got to be the worst incident of backing a system up to the harm of others.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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