What is Theft by Deception?

In Georgia, a person commits Theft by Deception when the obtain property by any deceitful means or artful practice with the intention of depriving the owner of said property. At trial, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused intended to deceive. According to the statute intentional deception is demonstrated when the accused:

  1. Creates or
    confirms false impressions, which he knows or believes to be false; or,
  2. Fails to correct
    false impression previously created or confirmed
  3. Prevents another
    from acquiring information pertinent to disposition of property; or,
  4. Sells, transfers,
    or encumbers property intentionally failing to disclose a legal impediment that
    is or is not a matter of official record, or,
  5. Promises
    performance of services, which he does not perform and/or knows will not be
    performed.

In plain language, a person commits
theft by deception when they get property (or money) from someone by deceiving
them. Here’s a scenario to illustrate:

An Example

You’re in the market for a grandfather clock
for your living room. You see one for sale on craigslist and reach out to the
seller. You and the seller strike a deal for the clock. You send him the money
via PayPal and go to the seller’s antique store to pick up the clock. When you
arrive, you’re informed that the clock is not for sale. In fact, the clock does
not even belong to the seller. Here, the seller acquired money from you by
deceiving you into believing the clock was his to sell.

An Alternative Example

On the flip side, let’s say you’re the seller in this scenario. You, the seller, and your brother sell antiques out of the store. You’re brother purchased the grandfather clock and put it in the store. So, you assumed your brother wanted to sell the clock pursuant to your antique business. Turns out you sold a clock he did not want to sell. Your defense in this scenario is that you, the accused seller, did not intend to deceive the clock’s buyer because you genuinely thought the clock was for sale by your antique-selling partner.

 The
moral of the story here is to always make sure that if you sell something that
was procured by someone else, make sure that person actually want to sell it
before you sell it to a customer. Otherwise, you might face charges for theft
by deception.

If you or someone you know has been charged with theft by deception or any other theft charge contact our office today for a free consultation.

by Sarah Armstrong