Attorney Eric D. Puryear

Theft Charges in Iowa

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Iowa Criminal Law » Theft Charges in Iowa

The crime of Theft in Iowa is defined by Iowa Code Section 714.1.  Theft in Iowa comes in several different degrees (or levels of seriousness), based upon the value of the property that is alleged to have been stolen.


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The definition of Theft in Iowa, from Iowa Code Section 714.1

A person commits theft when the person does any of the following:
         1.  Takes possession or control of the property of another, or
      property in the possession of another, with the intent to deprive the
      other thereof.
         2.  Misappropriates property which the person has in trust, or
      property of another which the person has in the person's possession
      or control, whether such possession or control is lawful or unlawful,
      by using or disposing of it in a manner which is inconsistent with or
      a denial of the trust or of the owner's rights in such property, or
      conceals found property, or appropriates such property to the
      person's own use, when the owner of such property is known to the
      person.
         a.  Failure by a bailee or lessee of personal property to
      return the property within seventy-two hours after a time specified
      in a written agreement of lease or bailment shall be evidence of
      misappropriation.
         b.  If a time is not specified in the written agreement of
      lease or bailment for the expiration or termination of the lease or
      bailment or for the return of the personal property, failure by a
      lessee or bailee to return the property within five days after proper
      notice to the lessee or bailee shall be evidence of misappropriation.
      For the purposes of this paragraph, "proper notice" means a
      written notice of the expiration or termination of the lease or
      bailment agreement sent to the lessee or bailee by certified or
      restricted certified mail at the address of the lessee or bailee
      specified in the agreement.  The notice shall be considered effective
      on the date of the mailing of the notice regardless of whether or not
      the lessee or bailee signs a receipt for the notice.
         3.  Obtains the labor or services of another, or a transfer of
      possession, control, or ownership of the property of another, or the
      beneficial use of property of another, by deception.  Where
      compensation for goods and services is ordinarily paid immediately
      upon the obtaining of such goods or the rendering of such services,
      the refusal to pay or leaving the premises without payment or offer
      to pay or without having obtained from the owner or operator the
      right to pay subsequent to leaving the premises gives rise to an
      inference that the goods or services were obtained by deception.
         4.  Exercises control over stolen property, knowing such property
      to have been stolen, or having reasonable cause to believe that such
      property has been stolen, unless the person's purpose is to promptly
      restore it to the owner or to deliver it to an appropriate public
      officer.  The fact that the person is found in possession of property
      which has been stolen from two or more persons on separate occasions,
      or that the person is a dealer or other person familiar with the
      value of such property and has acquired it for a consideration which
      is far below its reasonable value, shall be evidence from which the
      court or jury may infer that the person knew or believed that the
      property had been stolen.
         5.  Takes, destroys, conceals or disposes of property in which
      someone else has a security interest, with intent to defraud the
      secured party.
         6.  Makes, utters, draws, delivers, or gives any check, share
      draft, draft, or written order on any bank, credit union, person, or
      corporation, and obtains property, the use of property, including
      rental property, or service in exchange for such instrument, if the
      person knows that such check, share draft, draft, or written order
      will not be paid when presented.
         Whenever the drawee of such instrument has refused payment because
      of insufficient funds, and the maker has not paid the holder of the
      instrument the amount due thereon within ten days of the maker's
      receipt of notice from the holder that payment has been refused by
      the drawee, the court or jury may infer from such facts that the
      maker knew that the instrument would not be paid on presentation.
      Notice of refusal of payment shall be by certified mail, or by
      personal service in the manner prescribed for serving original
      notices.
         Whenever the drawee of such instrument has refused payment because
      the maker has no account with the drawee, the court or jury may infer
      from such fact that the maker knew that the instrument would not be
      paid on presentation.
         7.  Obtains gas, electricity or water from a public utility or
      obtains cable television or telephone service from an unauthorized
      connection to the supply or service line or by intentionally
      altering, adjusting, removing or tampering with the metering or
      service device so as to cause inaccurate readings.
         8.  Knowingly and without authorization accesses or causes to be
      accessed a computer, computer system, or computer network, or any
      part thereof, for the purpose of obtaining computer services,
      information, or property or knowingly and without authorization and
      with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of possession,
      takes, transfers, conceals, or retains possession of a computer,
      computer system, or computer network or any computer software or
      computer program, or computer data contained in a computer, computer
      system, or computer network.
         9. a.  Obtains the temporary use of video rental property with
      the intent to deprive the owner of the use and possession of the
      video rental property without the consent of the owner.
         b.  Lawfully obtains the temporary use of video rental
      property and fails to return the video rental property by the agreed
      time with the intent to deprive the owner of the use and possession
      of the video rental property without the consent of the owner.  The
      aggregate value of the video rental property involved shall be the
      original retail value of the video rental property.
         10.  Any act that is declared to be theft by any provision of the
      Code.

The degrees of Theft in Iowa are defined as follows, by Iowa Code Section 714.2

        1.  The theft of property exceeding ten thousand dollars in value,
      or the theft of property from the person of another, or from a
      building which has been destroyed or left unoccupied because of
      physical disaster, riot, bombing, or the proximity of battle, or the
      theft of property which has been removed from a building because of a
      physical disaster, riot, bombing, or the proximity of battle, is
      theft in the first degree.  Theft in the first degree is a class "C"
      felony.
         2.  The theft of property exceeding one thousand dollars but not
      exceeding ten thousand dollars in value or theft of a motor vehicle
      as defined in chapter 321 not exceeding ten thousand dollars in
      value, is theft in the second degree.  Theft in the second degree is
      a class "D" felony.  However, for purposes of this subsection,
      "motor vehicle" does not include a motorized bicycle as defined
      in section 321.1, subsection 40, paragraph "b".
         3.  The theft of property exceeding five hundred dollars but not
      exceeding one thousand dollars in value, or the theft of any property
      not exceeding five hundred dollars in value by one who has before
      been twice convicted of theft, is theft in the third degree.  Theft
      in the third degree is an aggravated misdemeanor.
         4.  The theft of property exceeding two hundred dollars in value
      but not exceeding five hundred dollars in value is theft in the
      fourth degree.  Theft in the fourth degree is a serious misdemeanor.
         5.  The theft of property not exceeding two hundred dollars in
      value is theft in the fifth degree.  Theft in the fifth degree is a
      simple misdemeanor.

Theft charges in Iowa can be a serious matter, both at the time of the case and for the rest of the accused person’s life.


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In the short term, the most serious version of theft in Iowa (Theft in the 1st Degree) is a Class C felony, which can result in a 10 year prison sentence upon conviction. The least serious, Theft in the 5th Degree, can result in up to 30 days in the county jail.

In the longer term, a theft conviction can result in a person being disqualified from various employment and educational opportunities, as a theft conviction is seen in many industries as evidence that a person is not trustworthy. For example, those seeking to become a doctor, nurse, CNA, attorney, or other professional may not pass the “character and fitness” part of obtaining their license. Indeed, I had had many people attempting to become a CNA consult with me about the impact of a theft conviction they received years priors.

The good news is that theft cases can often be resolved in a more favorable manner when handled property, such that the case does not continue to cause harm to the client for years to come.


The attorneys at Puryear Law are ready to put our skill to work on your case. Consult with us today.


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