The charge of False Pretenses in Virginia is found in Va. Code §18.2-178. A Virginia False Pretenses charge is also known as fraud. It is basically stealing by lying. A Virginia False Pretenses charge is considered theft and is therefore punished as a larceny. This means the punishment depends on the value of the property obtained. The property covered by the statute includes money, gift certificates, or “other property that may be the subject of larceny.”
Proof of Virginia False Pretenses Charges
To be convicted of a Virginia false pretenses charge, the Commonwealth must prove that the offender made a false representation of a past or existing fact. The representation can be spoken, written, or even implied. They also must prove that the offender had the intent to defraud another person when he made the false representation. Next, the Commonwealth needs to prove that the offender’s false representation caused another person to part with his property. Finally, they must prove the value of the property. The crime of false pretenses is complete when the offender has obtained both title and possession of the property or money.
Punishment for Virginia False Pretenses Charges
Va. Code §18.2-178 states that anyone convicted of False Pretenses shall be “deemed guilty of larceny.” This means that a Virginia False Pretenses charge is punished as a larceny. Virginia larcenies are misdemeanors or felonies based on the value of the property taken. If the property is worth less than $200, the crime is a misdemeanor (petty larceny.) A misdemeanor petty larceny charge is punished with up to 12 months in jail and a fine up to $2500. If the property is worth more than $200, it is felony (grand larceny.) Virginia grand larceny charges are punished with 1-20 years in prison and a fine up to $2500. Virginia False Pretenses charges are punished the same way.
Multiple Convictions for Virginia Theft Charges
Va. Code §18.2-104 provides enhanced punishments for multiple larceny convictions in Virginia. The statute also covers offenses “deemed larceny.” Since Virginia False Pretenses charges are deemed larceny, they are subject to the same enhanced penalties for multiple offenses.
A second offense Virginia larceny is punished with a minimum of 30 days in jail and a maximum of 12 months, in addition to a fine as high as $2500. A third offense larceny in Virginia is a felony, punished with up to 5 years in prison and a fine up to $2500.
Additionally, an offender can be charged with a second offense False Pretenses charge if he has had no prior false pretenses conviction. Since the statute covers any offense “deemed larceny,” a prior petty larceny conviction can be the basis for charging a False Pretenses charge as a second offense. If the offender has been convicted of 2 or more offense “deemed” larceny in Virginia, the False Pretenses charge will be a felony, regardless of the value of the property obtained or how many convictions for False Pretenses the offender has received.
Therefore, if an offender is charged with Obtaining Money or Property by False Pretenses for the first time, but has 2 prior petty larceny convictions, he will be charged with a felony and faces up to 5 years in prison.
Virginia False Pretenses convictions can also be the basis for applying this enhanced to other Virginia larceny charges. If the offender has been convicted of one or more False Pretenses charges in the past, or a combination of larceny and false pretenses, but is currently facing prosecution for a larceny offense, he can be charged with a second or third offense according to Va. Code §18.2-104.
Obtaining Money by False Pretenses
Obtaining Money by False Pretenses is committed when an offender makes a factual misrepresentation with the intent to defraud another person, and that factual misrepresentation cause someone to part with his property. It is punished as a misdemeanor or as a felony, based on the value of the property obtained. If the value was under $200, it is charged as a misdemeanor Obtaining money by False Pretenses charge and is punished with up to 12 months in jail and a fine up to $2500. If the value of the property obtained was more than $200, it will be charged as a felony, and can be punished with up to 20 years in prison. For more information on Obtaining Money by False Pretenses in Virginia, click here.
Obtaining Signature by False Pretenses
Obtaining a Signature by False Pretenses in Virginia is considered forgery and is a felony. Va. Code §18.2-178(A) states that it is a Class 4 felony to obtain the signature of any person to a writing by false pretenses with intent to defraud. Obtaining a Signature by False Pretenses is punished with 2-10 years in prison and a fine as high as $100,000. For more information on the charge of Obtaining Signature by False Pretenses in Virginia, click here.