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Harsher penalties for anyone stealing from older individuals

On Behalf of | Aug 8, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Let’s say you’re out for a drink or two with friends one night. You all meet at a local establishment and sit at the front bar, where the only other customer is an older gentleman. A couple of hours later, the older gentleman pays for his drink and leaves.

You notice that the man leaves behind an expensive-looking wristwatch where he previously sat. Thinking that you’ll hold on to it until the man comes back for it, you grab the watch. But several drinks later, the man doesn’t return. You decide to keep the watch for yourself and take it home – you think it would be a waste to give up a luxury watch to the bar for safekeeping.

Per Iowa law, not only did you commit the crime of theft for keeping a missing item away from its original owner, but you also stole from an older individual, which carries even harsher penalties than regular theft. What sort of penalties can you expect if you’re convicted?

More severe penalties

A theft crime becomes theft against an older individual if the theft was directed at a person at least 60 years old at the time of the incident. Generally speaking, the penalties you face will be enhanced one grade higher than the punishments you would’ve faced had the individual been younger. The penalties are also based on the value of the items stolen:

  • Theft not exceeding $300: This is theft in the fifth degree. From a simple misdemeanor, it’s upgraded to a serious misdemeanor with a maximum $2,560 fine and a one-year prison sentence.
  • Theft over $300, less than $750: Theft in the fourth degree gets upgraded from a serious misdemeanor to an aggravated misdemeanor, with a maximum $8,540 fine and a two-year prison sentence.
  • Theft over $750, less than $1,500: Theft in the third degree transitions from an aggravated misdemeanor to a Class D felony with a maximum $7,500 fine and a five-year prison sentence.
  • Theft over $1,500, less than $10,000, or theft of a motor vehicle not exceeding $10,000 in value: Second degree theft becomes a Class C felony from a Class D felony. It carries a maximum $13,660 fine and up to 10 years in prison.
  • Theft exceeding $10,000: First degree theft upgrades to a Class B felony from Class C. This is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

Stealing is a crime that comes with hefty penalties, but if you’re charged with stealing from an older person, your punishments become more severe. If an elderly individual accidentally leaves behind a valuable item, it’s best that you take the item to a lost-and-found facility or an officer.