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Returning rental equipment late could result in a theft charge

In April, the Iowa code for theft was amended to include rental equipment. Now, a renter can face a theft charge if he or she rents equipment with the intent to deprive or if the renter does not return the equipment by the agreed upon time. It is imperative to read a rental agreement and make sure you know when you must return the equipment to avoid a theft charge. 

The consequences for theft are severe. You may face prison time and restitution if convicted of theft, but it will depend on what type of charges you face. The degree of theft that a person can be charged with depends on the value of the item: 

  • Theft of property amounting to $10,000 or more is a Class C felony
  • Theft of property with a value of $1,000 to $10,000 is a Class D felony
  • Theft of property valued at $1,000 or less is generally charged as a misdemeanor 

Many employees consider theft a crime of dishonesty and will not hire anyone with a theft conviction. A conviction will show up on any background check for the rest of your life. It might even affect your ability to find employment. Theft is one crime that you cannot expunge from your record except in very limited circumstances. It is vital that you present a strong defense when you face charges of any type of theft. A renter can avoid prosecution if he or she pays the fair market value of the item or if they return the property within 48 hours of arrest. 

It is always a good idea to speak to a criminal defense attorney when facing criminal charges. An advocate will help ensure the protection of your rights through the process, help you understand each step of the process and help you find the best possible outcome for your situation if you face charges of theft after a rental agreement

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