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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. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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