Man Steals $1.49 Hot Dog, Gets Charged With Felony - Legally Weird
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Man Steals $1.49 Hot Dog, Gets Charged With Felony

An Indiana man with a hankering for hot dogs was arrested Wednesday on a felony theft charge for allegedly stealing a $1.49 weenie from a convenience store.

Rickey Joe Moore II, 21, of Odon, is being charged with a Class D felony after being accused by a convenience store manager of reaching in and snatching a hot dog from the rotisserie, the Greene County Daily World reports.

How is stealing a hot dog a felony?

Indiana Theft Laws

You may agree that stealing a hot dog is by its own definition a "theft," but it doesn't seem to rise to the level of criminal conduct we typically associate with felony crimes.

In many states, criminal laws distinguish between simple thefts of small value from grand theft. Typically, petty thefts are misdemeanor offenses which require no more than one year in jail and often much less than that.

Not so in Indiana. Under Indiana law, any person who knowingly or intentionally takes control (without consent) of another's property -- regardless of the value -- with intent to permanently deprive the owner of it has committed at least a Class D felony. In Indiana, Class D felonies are punishable by a minimum of six months in jail.

So if it is true that Moore stole the hot dog with the intent to eat it (which would permanently deprive it from its owner) his buns may be toasted.

'Wobbler' Offenses

Luckily for Moore, Class D felonies in Indiana are "wobbler"-type offenses. They're called that because these crimes can be charged either as felonies or reduced to misdemeanors depending on past criminal history and/or the severity of the offense.

In Moore's case, his Class D felony charge could be reduced to a Class A misdemeanor if he has no prior unrelated wobbler felonies that were entered as misdemeanors in the last three years. Not only would a misdemeanor charge likely mean less jail time, it would also help Moore avoid the negative consequences of being a convicted felon.

Given the teenie-weenie amount of $1.49 involved in the alleged hot dog theft, a judge will likely reduce Moore's sausage smuggling to a misdemeanor. But if this is the latest in a long string of convenience store capers, then Moore could be in a penal pickle.

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