If you deceive someone into stealing or withholding their property, you may be found guilty of theft by deception. Here’s what happens if you’re charged.
The rise of the internet has been a positive boom for fraudsters. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to set up fake advertisements or job opportunities with the intent of persuading people to part with their money. That’s why theft by deception is very much on the rise, and the penalties can be harsh.
What is theft by deception?
Theft by deception is a pretty wide-ranging term. As the name implies, it covers any form of financial or property loss, whether withholding money or actively stealing.
You could be charged with theft by deception if you have lied or allowed a false perception to persist, which results in a financial penalty for the victim. This could include deceiving someone about the law, your identity, or the value of a product.
Theft by deception is usually regarded as a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. The penalty will rise along with the level of financial loss.
- Less than $50: a third-degree misdemeanor resulting in a fine of up to $2,500 and up to a year in prison.
- $50 to $200: second-degree misdemeanor, leading to a two-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine.
- $2,000: first-degree misdemeanor with up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Anything more will be regarded as a felony. You could be imprisoned for up to seven years and fined as much as $15,000.
Even a relatively minor offense can have a severe impact on your life. Employers routinely carry out background checks for criminal records. They will see this in your history, which could affect your chances of securing a job.
Theft by deception could be particularly damaging because it goes to the heart of your trustworthiness. Again, put yourself in your employer’s position. Would you be comfortable working with someone who has a record of deception?
Therefore, if you are charged, you should consult professional help as soon as possible. This is where Attorney Dave Wenger can help. He can stand up for your rights and give you the best chance of fighting your case. Attorney Wenger’s first aim will be to secure an acquittal, but if this is not possible, he will try to reduce the sentence to help you get on with the rest of your life.