What is Theft by Deception and How Serious Is It?

What is Theft by Deception and How Serious Is It?

Nothing about the phrase “theft by deception” sounds good. But what is it really? And is it a serious crime?

Theft by deception is when someone takes another person’s property under false pretenses. This could be by stealing someone’s social security number and taking loans out. Or it could be convincing people to pay you for legal advice when you’re not really a lawyer.

Usually, theft by deception isn’t limited to a one-time thing. Most people charged with this crime have performed their scam multiple times. It often takes a while for their victims to even realize what’s going on.

Even though it doesn’t sound as serious as some other crimes, like murder or robbery, theft by deception is a serious crime. And, depending on how much property you took, you could be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony.

If you’re charged with theft by deception, you really need to call a criminal defense lawyer in Connecticut.

How Does the State Prove Theft by Deception?

Just because you’re charged with a crime doesn’t mean you’ll be found guilty. The State still has to prove the elements of the crime. Your Connecticut criminal defense attorney will work hard to offer a defense that keeps you out of jail.

In order to be convicted of theft by deception, the State must prove a minimum of four (4) things:

  • You somehow obtained the property in question
  • You obtained this property by deception
  • You intended to purposely deceive the victim
  • You enjoyed a monetary gain of some sort

Each of these elements can be difficult to prove. They can also be difficult to disprove. Depending on the circumstances, your lawyer may have a difficult time getting the charges dismissed or reduced.

Did you Obtain the Property in Question?

The State has to prove that, at some point, you obtained the property that is the subject of the crime. This could be money or physical property. It could even be information, if that information has value. If you’re caught with this property in possession, the prosecutor will have met their burden.

Did you obtain this property by deception?

This question is a bit harder to answer. The State’s definition of deception may be different from yours. It will come down to who the jury believes.

Did you intend to deceive the victim?

Intent is difficult to prove. Nobody can be in your head at the time of the alleged crime. But intent can also be proved using physical evidence. For example, the State may introduce text messages, emails or voicemails between you and the victim. Make sure you’re upfront about this information with your criminal lawyer in Connecticut. Don’t put him in a position to be blindsided down the road.

Did you enjoy a monetary gain?

If the property was worthless, chances are, the victim wouldn’t have reported it as a crime. So, the jury is going to presume that whatever was stolen was valuable. This could be something that’s only worth a few dollars or it could be something valuable. Keep in mind – the value of the stolen property can determine whether you’re charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.

What are the Defenses to Theft by Deception?

Almost all crimes have defenses. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have a court system. Everyone charged with a crime would just be found guilty from the start. That means there are defenses to theft by deception.

In order to get your charges reduced or dismissed, your Connecticut defense lawyer needs to introduce a valid defense. Some of the possible defenses to your charges include:

  • You never had possession or control of the property
  • You did not deceive the victim in any way
  • The property had no value
  • The victim gave you the property
  • You legitimately purchased the property
  • Mistaken identity

Your defense depends on your specific case. Every case is different. Your lawyer will have to review your case to see which defenses may be available.

Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Connecticut Today

If you or your family member has been charged with theft by deception, you need to call a criminal lawyer. You don’t want these criminal charges hanging over your head. You also don’t want to face any jail time, fines or probation.

Call and speak with an experienced Connecticut criminal lawyer today. He can answer any questions you may have. He can also let you know what possible consequences you’re facing.

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