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False Pretenses

False Pretenses

Obtaining property by false pretenses is simply the obtaining of 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.

Larceny by False Pretenses

This is the crime of taking another person's property through intentional deception, that is by misstating or leaving out an important detail to take advantage of another. For the purposes of sentencing, false pretenses is essentially treated the same under Virginia law as larceny. 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 penalty for a first-time conviction for larceny by false pretenses as a felony is a term of imprisonment of one to 20 years and/or a maximum fine of $2,500. The 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.

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.

Forgery by False Pretenses

If the deception involved in a false pretenses case involves a signature to a writing of some kind, the charge is 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.

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