Understanding Theft By Deception in PA
A simple accusation of a theft by deception criminal charge can be life altering. Even before a trial or verdict, the stigma of being a thief conveys a lack of trust that will affect your career, relationships, and reputation for years to come. If you or someone you know has been accused of theft by deception, it is crucial to contact an experienced criminal theft attorney right away.
Theft offenses are often charged unpredictably, so understanding the theft by deception law and penalties in PA is crucial and will help you recognize if a lawyer has the skills and knowledge it takes to get you the best possible outcome.
What is Theft by Deception?
Theft by deception is a type of theft in which someone intentionally obtains or withholds someone else’s property by deceiving them. A conviction in Pennsylvania will be based on if the accused does one of the following:
- Creates or reinforces a false impression as to the “law, value, intention or state of mind”
- Prevents a person from acquiring information that might affect his or her judgement about a transaction
- Fails to correct a false impression “which the deceiver previously created or reinforced”
However, not all deception is considered a crime. If the false statements do not have financial significance, or are exaggerated to the point that a reasonable person would not accept them as the truth, then the offense would not be considered theft by deception.
Penalties of Theft By Deception in PA
The resulting penalties of a theft by deception conviction in PA will vary depending on the value of the property or money stolen, which in most cases will be the following:
- Less than $50 — 3rd degree misdemeanor with a jail sentence up to 1 year and fine up to $2,500
- $50 – $200 — 2nd degree misdemeanor with a jail sentence up to 2 years and a fine up to $5,000
- $200 – $2,000 — 1st degree misdemeanor with a jail sentence up to 5 years and a fine up to $10,000
- More than $2,000 — 3rd degree felony with a jail sentence up to 7 years and a fine up to $15,000
Defenses to Theft by Deception
While the burden is on the prosecutor to prove every element of the offense, a skillful and aggressive defense is essential to getting your charges dropped completely. Some of the possible defenses for theft by deception charges may include:
- The property wasn’t taken at all. The alleged victim misplaced or lost it.
- The property was taken with the clear intent of returning it.
- The alleged victim gave the property to the accused willingly and freely.
- There was no deception involved. The alleged victim misunderstood the conversation or transaction.
- The defendant was under duress and did not intend to deceive.
To make sure you have the strongest defense for your case, you need a criminal attorney with extensive knowledge and experience in theft by deception offenses. Our theft lawyers know what it takes to protect your reputation and get you the best possible outcome. Contact us today for a free consultation.