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Theft By False Pretense in California

This theft crime has to do, basically, with tricking another individual or entity to give you money, goods, services or anything of value by way of a scheme designed to give them false information and cause them to give you information or other goods that can cost money and be of value. It's described under California Penal Code Section 532.

Tricking Victim

A perfect example of this is when you get a phone call from someone claiming to be a government agency and they ask you for a bunch of identifying information.  You give it to them thinking that they really are a government agency, but in actuality they are a trickster taking your information and use it to run-up credit and mess your credit up, take your personal identity.  This would be an example of theft by false pretenses.

So, if you're charged with this type of offense, usually the prosecutors are going to be looking to punish you severely because you're using sophistication and trickery in order to not only take things from people, but it messes up a lot of people long-term, where now they've got this bad hit on their credit or on their record that they can't get off.

It's very difficult to deal with.  You're also dealing with people's personal information.  Typically, when you have a theft by false pretenses in Los Angeles or anywhere in the country for that matter, a couple of things the prosecutors are going to be looking at when determining how they're going to deal with the case is (1) how sophisticated you were; and (2) what type of damage you caused.

Amount of Financial Loss

In other words, did you cause thousands of dollars' worth of damage?  Did you cause the victim in the case to have a personal attack on their information where they're going to have a long time in order to recover their credit because of it?  They're also going to look at, if you did cause a loss, can you pay the money back?

Or, do you now have no money and the person is not only been wronged because you stole from them, but can't get the money back from you.  So, these are some of the things that the judge will look at in dealing with a theft by false pretenses case.  The prosecutor will look at these things in determining how they're going to handle your case.

There are defenses to theft by false pretenses, but obviously, like in anything in criminal defense, the defense that you're utilizing just has to make sense.  In other words, if they can't prove that you took anything or you're the person who was the actor taking the goods, services or whatever is of value from the other party, then they're going to have a problem proving the case against you.

If there's no loss in the case, that would be another argument that it's not a legitimate theft by false pretenses case and you possibly could defend it

When it comes to these defenses, they really just spin on the facts of the case — what makes sense in the case.  You have to use your common sense in order to really get a feel for whether there actually is a defense in your case and the only way they're going to be able to do that is to sit down with a seasoned defense attorney.

Give him all the facts.  Be honest about it.  Let him know, then you can start to talk about what defenses you might have related to the offense that you're charged with and start to make some moves that make sense for you — protect your rights, your reputation, your freedom and your interests.

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