Call us 24/7: (515) 279-9700

Theft and Property Crimes

Theft charges in Iowa include an offense in which the accused deprived another person of property, or somehow participated in the act. Property crimes include a variety of offenses in which the accused illegally destroyed, damaged or trespassed onto the property of another.

In many case, the punishment for a theft or property crime depends on the value of the property in question that was damaged or stolen. The charges can even add up to felonies.  On top of that, having a theft charge on your record will tell any potential employers that you are a dishonest person, not to be trusted around money or anything of value.

Lawyer for Theft Crimes in Des Moines, Iowa

Theft and property crime accusations may be based on weak evidence, exaggerated claims and misunderstandings. A Des Moines theft and property crime lawyer from McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. can show the jury the reasonable doubt that exists in the accusations against you.

Our criminal defense attorneys have more than four decades of legal experiences and have represented hundreds against criminal accusations. We’ll put that extensive experience to work for you, fighting your property crime or theft charges. Call us today at (515) 279-9700 for a free consultation.

Our attorney represent the accused throughout Polk County and Dallas County, including in West Des Moines, Ankeny, Urbandale and Johnson, and all over Iowa.

Iowa Property Crime Information Center

Back to Top

Theft Charges in Iowa

Iowa Code 714.1 has a long list of different actions that may be defined as “theft.” The simplest covers the broadest definition of the word: Taking possession or control of the property of another with the intent to deprive that person of the property. This covers acts like shoplifting, pickpocketing and other acts that take money, jewelry and other valuables from people without their consent.

Theft charges, however, can also include any allegation in which the accused was entrusted with property and takes it for their own use or otherwise uses it in a way that violates the rights of the owner. This can include renting property and not returning it, but can also include some acts that might be considered embezzlement, such as taking office supplies or other work equipment entrusted to the accused.

Theft is not always property. It can also include services, like walking a restaurant tab, often called a “dine and dash.”

It is also a crime under the theft statute to have control over property the accused knows to be stolen, or that the accused has reason to believe was stolen. The practice of accepting or buying stolen good and then selling them, called “fencing,” is illegal under this law. This is often called “receiving stolen property.”

Theft of property valued up to $200 is a simple misdemeanor. From $200 to $500 is a serious misdemeanor. From $500 to $1,000 is an aggravated misdemeanor. From $1,000 to $10,000 is a Class D felony, as is the theft of an automobile or motorcycle.

It is a Class C felony misdemeanor if the property in question is worth more than $10,000, or if the property was stolen from a site that had been abandoned due to a disaster, including a flood, fire or tornado.

Back to Top

Other Property Crimes in Polk County

Criminal Mischief (Iowa Code 716.1): Criminal mischief is damaging, defacing, altering or destroying property by someone who has no right to do so. It can include graffiti and other forms of vandalism. Criminal mischief has the same amounts and classifications as theft, except that the amount pertains to the cost of replacing the damaged property. Additionally, if the mischief causes a substantial interruption of any public utility, communication service, gas line or electric line, it is a Class C felony.

Arson (Iowa Code 712): Arson involves causing any kind of fire or explosion with the intent to destroy property. It can be another’s property or could belong to the accused, if the accused seeks to make an insurance claim on the property. It is also arson to cause a fire or explosion while manufacturing a controlled substance. Arson is a Class B felony if the accused allegedly knew or should have known that a person was present on the property in question, or if the fire results in the death of a firefighter. If the value of the property was worth more than $5,000, it is a Class C felony. Any other arson is an aggravated misdemeanor.

Trespass (Iowa Code 716.7): Trespass means to enter someone else’s property with the intent of committing some kind of public offense or to hunt without their permission. It can also be trespass if the accused it asked to leave but remains on the property. Trespass is a simple misdemeanor, unless the accused is alleged to have cause an injury, property damage valued at more than $200, or with the intent to commit a hate crime, in which case it is a serious misdemeanor, or with the intent to commit a hate crime that would result in injury or property damage, in which case it is an aggravated misdemeanor.

Burglary (Iowa Code 713): Burglary involves entering a building with the intent to commit a felony, a theft or an assault, including a sexual assault. It is a Class B felony to commit burglary with an explosive, an incendiary device or material, with a dangerous weapon, or if, in the course of the burglary, the accused intentionally or reckless inflicts bodily injury or commits sexual abuse. It is a Class C felony if the accused has an explosive device or a dangerous weapon and there are no people present, or if he or she does not possess such a device or weapon and there are people present. Any other kind of burglary is a Class D felony except a first offense of burglary of a motor vehicle, which is an aggravated misdemeanor.

Identity Theft — The Iowa legislature in 2016 enacted new legislation related to the criminal offense of identity theft. The Act adds the term “other benefit” to the penalty language in Iowa Code section 715A.8(3) to align the language with the elements of the crime of identity theft in Iowa Code section 715A.8(2). The Act aligns the language in Iowa Code section 715A.9, relating to the calculation of the value of the identity theft, with the language in Iowa Code section 715A.8. The penalty for identity theft is also enhanced when the value of the credit, property, services, or other benefit obtained through identity theft exceeds $10,000. However, the Act does not change the criminal penalty for identity theft where the value of the benefit obtained is $10,000 or less. If the value exceeds $10,000, the penalty is increased from a class “D” felony to a class “C” felony. If the value exceeds $1,000 but does not exceed $10,000, the penalty remains a class “D” felony. If the value does not exceed $1,000, the penalty remains an aggravated misdemeanor.

Back to Top

Punishment for Des Moines Theft and Property Crimes

  • Simple Misdemeanor: Up to 30 days in jail and a fine from $65 to $625
  • Serious Misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in prison and a fine from $315 to $1,875
  • Aggravated Misdemeanor: Up to 2 years in prison and a fine from $625 to $6,250
  • Class D Felony: Up to 5 years in prison and a fine from $750 to $7,500
  • Class C Felony: Up to 10 years in prison and a fine from $1,000 to $10,000
  • Class B Felony: Up to 25 years in prison.

Additionally, any crime involving a deadly weapon can result in a minimum sentence of five years.

It’s important to remember that the prosecutor must prove every element of their case beyond a reasonable doubt, including, for some crimes, intent. Your Des Moines criminal defense lawyer can show where there might be reasonable doubt, and can challenge the state’s claims.

Back to Top

McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. | Lawyers for Theft and Property Crimes in Polk County, Iowa

If you face charges of theft, burglary , arson or any other crime involving property, a Des Moines theft and property crime lawyer from McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. can help you. Our experienced attorneys will challenge evidence and seek to get your charges reduced or dismissed.

Call us today at (515) 279-9700 to set up a free consultation.