What you need to know about the offense of theft by deception

On Behalf of | Feb 29, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Generally speaking, most theft offenses sound straightforward – they’re crimes where a person deprives another person of an object or money. But not all theft offenses involve directly taking items from others.

Theft by deception involves obtaining property by intentionally misleading the owner, whether through trickery or lies. This is a serious offense in North Carolina and anyone convicted can face severe penalties.

Obtaining property through false pretenses

North Carolina law considers theft by deception as obtaining property by false pretenses. It’s a felony offense, and its criminal grade (whether it’s a Class C or H felony) hinges on the value of the property being taken.

Actions considered as theft by deception

Some of the more common examples of theft by deception include selling an item while falsely claiming it’s genuine. Another scheme is when a seller lies about the condition of the goods they’re offering. More specific examples include:

  • Home repair scams
  • False charities
  • Phishing schemes
  • Ponzi schemes
  • Fake rental listings
  • Misrepresenting used cars
  • Selling counterfeit products
  • Fake employment opportunities
  • Fraudulent investment opportunities

Misrepresenting an item or service for sale could lead to criminal charges, even if it’s an honest mistake.

The penalties for theft by deception

If the value of the money, goods or services obtained by the offender is less than $100,000, the offense is a Class H felony. On conviction, a person faces up to 25 months in prison.

On the other hand, if the total value of the items obtained through deceit is equal to or more than $100,000, the offense is a Class C felony. This offense is punishable by up to 12 years of prison on conviction.

Theft by deception may not be as direct as other types of theft, but such trickery still carries hefty penalties. It’s also a felony offense, which can leave you with a criminal record that can ruin your future employment and financial opportunities. If you face charges for theft by deception, a legal professional may be able to guide you through the court procedure and advise you on your case.