Pennsylvania Theft by Deception Lawyers
PA Theft by Deception Lawyers
Thank you for visiting Lampman Law. If you or someone you love is charged with Theft by Deception in Pennsylvania, we can help. We are experienced criminal defense lawyers that are in district and trial courts daily representing people charged with crimes throughout Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania. Since Lampman Law opened we have zealously defended people facing theft accusations and have helped our clients avoid the criminal consequences and social stigma of a Theft by Deception conviction.
If you would like us to examine your case, please call Lampman Law at 570-371-3737 to personally discuss the matter with us. We offer a free phone or in-office consultation. All consultations are also welcoming, free of pressure, and confidential.
18 Pa.C.S. § 3922. Theft by Deception
A person is guilty of theft by deception if he intentionally obtains or withholds property of another by deception. A person deceives if he intentionally:
(1) creates or reinforces a false impression, including false impressions as to law, value, intention or other state of mind; but deception as to a person's intention to perform a promise shall not be inferred from the fact alone that he did not subsequently perform the promise;
(2) prevents another from acquiring information which would affect his judgment of a transaction; or
(3) fails to correct a false impression which the deceiver previously created or reinforced, or which the deceiver knows to be influencing another to whom he stands in a fiduciary or confidential relationship.
However, under Pennsylvania law, the term “deceive” does not include falsity as to matters having no financial significance, or “puffing by statements” unlikely to deceive ordinary persons in the group addressed.
Elements of Theft by Deception in Pennsylvania
To obtain a conviction of theft by deception in Pennsylvania, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the presence of a false impression, the intent to defraud, and that the victim relied on that impression. See Commonwealth v. Thomas, 684 A.2d 1085 (Pa. Super. 1996).
It is not a defense to theft by deception that an ordinary person would not have been deceived by defendant's representations. Commonwealth v. Nappi, 431 A.2d 1027 (Pa. Super. 1981). However, a mere promise for future conduct does not suffice to constitute false pretense, even though the promisor never intended to perform. Commonwealth v. Kelinson, 184 A.2d 374 (Pa. Super. 1962).
Grading & Penalties for Theft by Deception
In Pennsylvania, Theft by Deception can be graded as a Felony or a misdemeanor offense. The grading and specific range of penalty for Theft by Deception is dependent on several factors, including the accused prior record score (PRS), and:
the item’s value or amount of money involved;
whether the item at issue is a firearm, anhydrous ammonia, or a vehicle;
whether the accused breached fiduciary duty; and/or,
whether threats were used to complete the crime.
Neither the grading nor the offense gravity score (OGS) are adjusted bases on whether the property taken was movable or immovable. Likewise, grading and OGS are not reliant on whether the deception was caused by false impression, the concealment of information, or by a failure to correct a fact.
First Degree Felony Theft by Deception (F1)
Theft by Deception is only graded as a felony of the first degree if the amount involved is $500,000 or more. F1 offenses are punishable by a maximum of 20 years imprisonment and a $25,000 fine. The OGS of these cases is 8.
Second Degree Felony Theft by Deception (F2)
A felony of the second degree is punishable by a maximum of 10 years imprisonment and a $25,000 fine. The OGS of these cases is 7 if the (F2) is bases on value. Otherwise the OGS is 8. Theft by Deception is graded as a (F2) when:
The amount involved is $100,000 or more but less than $500,000.
The property stolen is a firearm.
The property stolen is anhydrous ammonia.
Third Degree Felony Theft by Deception (F3)
A felony of the third degree is punishable by a maximum of 7 years imprisonment and a $15,000 fine. Theft by Deception is graded as a (F3) when:
The amount involved exceeds $2,000. The OGS is 6 when the value is more than $25,000 but less than $100,000. The OGS is 5 when the value is more than $2,000 but $25,000 or less.
The property stolen is a motorized vehicle. The OGS is 6.
Misdemeanor of the First-Degree Theft by Deception (M1)
A misdemeanor of the first degree is punishable by a maximum of 5 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. The OGS is 3 for (M1) Theft by Deception cases. Theft by Depection is graded as a (M1) when:
The amount involved is $200 or more but less than $2,000; or,
The property was taken from the person or by threat, or in breach of fiduciary obligation.
Misdemeanor of the Second-Degree Theft by Deception (M2)
A misdemeanor of the second degree is punishable by a maximum of 2 years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. The OGS for these cases is 2. Theft by Deception is graded as a (M2) when:
The property was not taken from the person or by threat, and;
the amount involved was $50 or more but less than $200.
Misdemeanor of the Third-Degree Theft by Deception (M3)
A misdemeanor of the third degree is punishable by a maximum of 1-year imprisonment and a $2,000 fine. Since the OGS for these offenses is 1, however, probation is the likely sentence unless the defendant has an elevated PRS. Theft by Deception is graded as a (M3) when:
The property was not taken from the person or by threat, or in breach of fiduciary obligation, and;
the amount involved was less than $50.
Lampman Law Defends Theft by Deception Cases
It is extremely important to timely hire an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense when facing theft by deception charges. As explained, Theft by Deception cases are complex and the accused’s freedom and other important rights are at risk. Hiring the right criminal defense lawyer, as soon as possible, can help the accused build their case by gathering the evidence to build a robust defense. It is the best chance for an accused to preserve their liberty, legal rights, and their reputation.
When choosing a lawyer, it is important to seek the services of a lawyer that primarily practices criminal defense and that the lawyer has personally handled theft cases in the county where the charge is being prosecuted. Likewise, it is vital that the lawyer can and will conduct a full investigation into the facts and circumstances of the allegation. Obviously, challenges to the valuation of the items or funds allegedly stolen are extremely important in defending theft by deception prosecutions.
Please contact us at 570-371-3737 if you have any questions. Should you choose to trust us with your case, our fees are reasonable, we always use detailed written fee agreements, and payment plans (including credit card payment) can be arranged.