Here’s how theft by deception works. Theft by deception means that someone uses deception to intentionally obtain or withhold property, including money, that does not belong to them. For example, someone lists a rare BMW on Craigslist at a bargain price and asks everyone who responds to their ad to send them a down-payment to finalize the sale — although the seller does not actually have a BMW to sell.
What is Theft by Deception?
Theft by deception is a type of theft crime when someone intentionally obtains or withholds someone else’s property by deceiving them. In Pennsylvania, someone can be guilty of theft by deception if he or she intentionally does any of the following:
- Create or reinforce a false impression, including impressions about a law, value, intention or some other state of mind.
- Keep someone else from acquiring the information that would affect their judgment about a transaction.
- Fails to correct a false impression that they previously created or or that they know is influencing someone that with whom they have a fiduciary or confidential relationship.
The exception to this is that if you have made false statements about matters that have no financial significance or if you make exaggerated statements that would not deceive ordinary people in the group you are speaking to. This would not be theft by deception.
What is the Penalty for Theft by Deception in Pennsylvania?
Under Pennsylvania law, the seriousness of the grading for theft is based on the value of the property taken.
In most cases, if the property’s value is:
- More than $2000 — felony of the third degree, punished with up to seven years in prison and a fine up to $15,000
- $2,000 to $200 — misdemeanor of the first degree, punished with up to five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000
- $200 to $50 — misdemeanor of the second degree, punished with up to two years in prison and a fine up to $5,000
- Less than $50 — misdemeanor of the third degree, punished with up to one year in prison and a fine up to $2,500
Theft By Deception And Job Hunting
If you have any kind of theft charge on your criminal record, it can easily be seen by a potential employer who does a background check. Businesses do not want to hire someone who might steal from them, and that will make them wary of offering you a job.
Steps To Take If You Have Been Charged
If you have been charged with theft by deception, your first step should be to immediately hire a lawyer. He or she will evaluate the evidence against you and build a defense. You may have a defense if you unknowingly or unintentionally deceived someone, but this depends on your specific legal situation. A criminal defense attorney can help protect your rights and make sure that your rights are protected. In many instances we can achieve a reduction in your charges and in some instances a full dismissal.
Don’t talk to the police or prosecutors unless your attorney is with you.
When you meet with your lawyer, tell them everything that happened both before and during your arrest.