Theft is the taking of another individual’s property with the intent to permanently deprive them of that property. There may be many different levels of theft as well as other distinct crimes which carry a range of penalties.
Theft may be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony depending upon:
- The type of theft involved;
- The value of the property that was stolen; and
- Whether or not any aggravating factors were present.
One of the main factors that determines how theft is charged is the value of the money or property that was stolen. If the items stolen are things such as lower value jewelry or clothes, the theft would often be classified as petty theft or misdemeanor theft.
States vary in terms of the threshold for petty theft, however, it is uncommon to see the value being higher than $1,000. In the alternative, examples of more serious theft include stealing items such as a vehicle, high value jewelry, or large sums of cash.
If an individual steals more valuable property, it may be referred to as grand theft or grand larceny. When an individual uses a weapon or force while perpetrating the theft, this will be classified as a more serious crime.
It is important to note that, in many jurisdictions, theft is also referred to as larceny.
What is Theft by Deception?
Theft by deception is also known as conning. Theft by deception occurs when an individual intentionally and purposely obtains property which belongs to another individual using deceptive tactics.
Theft by deception is similar to the general act of theft because it entails an individual taking someone else’s property or services on purpose. This particular crime, however, entails an individual taking by deception or trickery.
In general, the victim relies upon the lies or deceit that was claimed as a truth by the thief.
What are Some Examples of Theft by Deception?
Cases that involve theft by deception may be categorized as false impression matters or intentional misrepresentations. The exact legal definitions of these terms vary by state.
In general, false impressions refer to when an individual creates a misconception that a victim ultimately relies upon as truth. One of the most common examples of false impressions is a dine and dash at a restaurant.
A dine and dash occurs when an individual eats at a restaurant and then gives the impression that they intend to pay for their meal. Instead of paying, the individual eats their meal and leaves the restaurant without paying.
An intentional misrepresentation occurs when an individual knowingly lies or omits information which a victim relies upon. One example of this would be when an individual steals a car stereo from a vehicle and then sells it to a used retail shop, such as a pawn shop.
The perpetrator will sell the stereo as if it belonged to them. The store owner will then purchase the stolen stereo because they rely on the intentional misrepresentation of the thief.
Another example of theft by deception is phishing. Phishing occurs when a perpetrator sends out messages via:
- Text message; or
The goal of phishing is to give an unsuspecting recipient of the message the impression that the perpetrator is with a legitimate company or organization, such as one a victim is actually involved with. The victim may then provide confidential information, such as their:
- Social Security number;
- Bank account information; or
- Credit card access.
Phishing scams often lead to identity theft cases. Another example which may fall under one of more of the above categories is the use of a stolen credit card.
The perpetrator who is using a stolen credit card and providing a store owner with the false impression that the credit card belongs to them. In the alternative, the thief may intentionally misrepresent that they have permission to use the card.
In either case, using another individual’s credit card without their permission is a criminal offense.
What are the Possible Penalties You can Face for Theft by Deception?
The punishments for theft by deception may vary by state. The penalties may range from jail time to monetary fines.
Identity theft cases and phishing scams often occur over the internet. This may trigger the involvement of the federal authorities in the prosecution of the offense.
In general, internet crimes are handled by the federal government. The penalties which are imposed by the federal government are often more rigorously enforced.
In some cases, both state and federal penalties may be imposed. With all criminal matters, the court will consider numerous factors when determining the penalty for theft by deception, including, but not limited to:
- The severity of the crime, as well as any mitigating factors involved;
- Whether the crime is a state or federal offense, or both a state and a federal offense;
- The dollar amount that was stolen;
- The criminal background of the perpetrator and whether they have committed the same or similar crime before;
- Whether or not the perpetrator is a minor;
- The length of time that the crime involved; and
- Whether any valid defenses exist.
It is important to note that in a theft by deception crime, the prosecution may consider offering a plea deal to the defendant. This is due to the fact that it may be difficult to prove the actual intention of deceiving the victim.
This may be due to ambiguities in conversation or in the terms between the victim and the defendant.
How is Theft by Deception Defined in Georgia?
In the State of Georgia, theft by deception is the criminal offense of obtaining property by any deceptive means with the intention to permanently deprive the owner. Theft offenses are typically considered more serious when the victim is an elderly individual.
What Does it Mean to Deceive Someone?
Pursuant to Georgia law, to deceive an individual means:
- Creating an impression in the victim’s mind about a false past event or false fact;
- Failing to correct the victim’s false impression of a fact or past event;
- Preventing another individual from obtaining information that is pertinent to a piece of property central to the theft;
- Promising to perform a service without any intention to perform the service; or
- Selling or transferring property and intentionally not providing information regarding any valid liens or adverse claims against the property.
What is Theft by Deception of an Elderly Victim in Georgia?
Theft by deception of an elderly victim occurs when an individual commits the crime of theft by deception against an individual who is 65 years of age or older. In addition, the value of the property involved must be $500 or more.
If the property stolen is less than $500, the theft will be considered a standard misdemeanor theft by deception.
What is the Punishment for Theft by Deception of an Elderly Victim in Georgia?
An individual who is convicted of committing theft by deception of an elderly individual may face 5 to 10 years in prison. Unlike felony theft by deception, the court does not have discretion to lower theft by deception of an elderly person to standard misdemeanor theft by deception.
Should I Hire a Lawyer?
If you are facing the charge of Theft by Deception of an Elderly Victim in Georgia, it is important to have the assistance of a Georgia criminal lawyer. As discussed above, this is a serious offense and you may be facing serious legal consequences.
Your lawyer can advise you of the severity of your case as well as any defenses which may be available to you. In addition, your lawyer may be able to negotiate a plea deal on your behalf.