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False Pretenses

False Pretenses

A common type of criminal defense case we encounter at S&R Law Firm is known as false pretenses. Obtaining property by false pretenses simply means that someone obtained property by intentionally misrepresenting a past or existing fact. Virginia law distinguishes between two forms of False Pretenses and treats them as different criminal offenses, but both are serious crimes that can lead to jail time, fines, and a criminal record. If you have been charged with either larceny or fraud by false pretenses, the team of Fairfax criminal defense attorneys at S&R Law Firm can help. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.

Larceny by False Pretenses

Larceny by false pretenses is the crime that occurs when one person takes another person’s property through intentional deception, that is by misstating or leaving out an important detail in order to take advantage of another. For the purposes of sentencing, false pretenses is essentially treated the same as larceny under Virginia law.

There are four elements to the criminal offense of Larceny by False Pretenses in Virginia that a prosecutor must prove in order for a person to be found guilty of the crime. The Commonwealth must first prove that the defendant made a false representation as to a past or current fact. Second, the Commonwealth must prove that the defendant intended to defraud the other person by causing that other person to part with both possession of and title to the property. Third, the Commonwealth must prove that, because of the false representation, the other person parted with possession and title to the property. Last, the Commonwealth must prove that the property had value.

With larceny by false pretenses cases, there is a fine line between a felony and a misdemeanor charge. If the government can prove that the property was valued at $200 or more, the offense will be graded as a felony. If the property was value at less than $200, then the offense is a misdemeanor. The penalties that result from each are very different, and this is why it is often essential to work with a Fairfax criminal defense attorney when you want to receive the lesser punishment.

A larceny by false pretenses offense as a misdemeanor is punishable by a maximum 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Virginia Criminal Code §18.2-178. The penalty for a first-time conviction for larceny by false pretenses as a felony, can be much harsher: it includes a term of imprisonment of one to 20 years and/or a maximum fine of $2,500. A good lawyer can often get your charge reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, thus minimizing the penalties you will face. At S&R Law Firm, we have helped many clients received an improved outcome in these cases.

Forgery by False Pretenses

The second type of false pretenses case is when a forgery occurs, and in these cases the punishments are far more severe than with larceny cases. For one, if the deception involved in a false pretenses case involves a signature to a writing of some kind, the charge is considered a felony even if the amount is less than $200. The penalty for forgery by false pretenses is also more severe than larceny by false pretenses; it is a Class 4 Felony and if found guilty, a person faces 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

How S&R Law Firm Can Help

If you are facing any type of false pretenses charge, it is in your best interest to avoid going it alone and instead work with a Fairfax criminal defense lawyer. We have successfully worked with countless area citizens facing fraud or forgery penalties and have helped many get an improved outcome in court, whether by getting their charges or their punishment reduced.

Contact us today for a free consultation and to learn more about your rights at 703.273.6431.

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