Theft by Deception

Numerous individuals are skilled enough with their words to make others believe anything they say; however if they use this skill of trickery and lies to cheat another person, they could face charges of theft by deception.

Theft by deception

Photo by: David Goehring

Photo by: David Goehring

According to Utah Code 76-6-405 : “A person commits theft [by deception] if the person obtains or exercises control over the property of another person: by deception; and with a purpose to deprive the other person of the property.” Theft by deception only applies if the item has “pecuniary [monetary] significance.”

Semi honest ads

From a business’ point of view, theft by deception may appear legal seeing how the victim willingly hands over their money for an item or service. Most sales promotions, ads, and commercials made by businesses have exaggerated deals, which are usually excused as “puffing” or overstatements that wouldn’t fool the common Joe. However going overboard and outright lying about conditions or products may bring charges of theft by deception.

Taking advantage of gullible people

Theft by deception can be as simple as getting someone to believe that they have to give up an item or money. There are many people out there that will take another person on their word. Taking advantage of these overly trusting individuals and tricking them out of a belonging or funds is against the law. Utah Code 76-6-404 states, “A person commits theft if he obtains or exercises unauthorized control over the property of another with a purpose to deprive him thereof.” When someone is tricked out of an item or funds, the party who made a fool of the victim was intentionally trying to “deprive him”, and therefore by law- committed theft.

Resist deceiving others

Theft by deception can carry different fines and penalties. The charges depend on the item involved, the amount (or worth), and whether or not this is a subsequent offense. With all these factors to consider, theft by deception could range from a class B misdemeanor to a 2nd degree felony. Any persons facing charges of theft by deception are encouraged to speak with a criminal defense attorney immediately.

Providing False or Misleading Information to Law Enforcement

Those who are speaking to police regarding a crime may choose to withhold details or lie about facts; yet providing false or misleading information of any kind to law enforcement is against the law.

Wrong personal information

Photo by: Paul Joseph

Photo by: Paul Joseph

A person may lie about their own identity to police, which is often done to avoid warrants or probation violations. When a person lies about who they are to police officers, they are providing false or misleading information and could face anywhere from 90 days to a full year in jail.
Utah Code 76-8-507 states: “A person commits a class C misdemeanor if, with intent of misleading a peace officer as to the person’s identity, birth date, or place of residence, the person knowingly gives a false name, birth date, or address to a peace officer in the lawful discharge of the peace officer’s official duties. A person commits a class A misdemeanor if, with the intent of leading a peace officer to believe that the person is another actual person, he gives the name, birth date, or address of another person to a peace officer acting in the lawful discharge of the peace officer’s official duties.”

Being a bad witness

Photo by: Sean Riley

Photo by: Sean Riley

Those who witness a crime involving a friend or family member may intentionally become a bad witness who doesn’t convey information accurately to police officers. It is common for eye witnesses to not get every detail correct, especially when describing an assailant. However if officers believe that someone is lying to cover for another person, especially by putting the blame on another, they can face charges of providing false or misleading information. According to Utah Code 76-8-506, “A person is guilty of a class B misdemeanor if he: knowingly gives or causes to be given false information to any peace officer or any state or local government agency or personnel with a purpose of inducing the recipient of the information to believe that another has committed an offense.” While there is a small chance that the person may help protect their friend from charges by lying, they will likely end up with their own charges to deal with.

Making a false police report

Photo by: Tripp

Photo by: Tripp

Occasionally, it isn’t answering questions dishonestly that gets people into trouble for providing false or misleading information. It could also be due to lying while filing a police report. Providing law enforcement with a written police report that has known false information is also a class B misdemeanor. (76-8-504) There are numerous misguided reasons in which an individual would file a false police report.

• Being angry after an argument or when wanting revenge on another person may drive an individual to construct up a crime. A few scenarios when this could be the motive for providing false or misleading information to police are: disputes between ex-lovers, when business deals go bad, or even after neighborly disputes. Regardless the motive, making not-so-true accusations when emotions are running high will hurt both parties in the end.

• When trying to hide a truth about themselves, fashioning a story may seem an easy way around getting caught. A woman in Southern Utah made this mistake last year when she had an affair then claimed she was raped by a random man while out on the city trails. Her lie was eventually uncovered by police, and beyond marital problems she now has a criminal record.

• There are some people who simply want attention or validation and will do ANYTHING to get it. These individuals seek attention by becoming a victim. Unless they are unfortunate to actually be a victim in a crime, they may generate one instead. Earlier this year, a homosexual Delta Utah man claimed he was the target of a LGBT hate crime when in fact the only person involved was himself. While he will most likely face charges for providing false or misleading information to police, he was also encouraged to seek mental health counseling.

Keep it short, sweet, and honest

Photo by: alexisnyal

Photo by: alexisnyal

When speaking to law enforcement, it is best to keep your answers short, sweet, and completely honest. If you are concerned that you may be offering information to police that you shouldn’t do without counsel present, never succumb to providing false or misleading information. You have the right to remain silent until you can contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to guide you how to best deal with police questioning.

Voyeurism Charges for “Checking Someone Out”

“Checking someone out” discretely and without their consent can result in voyeurism charges.

Common cases of voyeurism

Photo by: Gareth Williams

Photo by: Gareth Williams

When the word voyeurism starts getting thrown around, it is typically due to someone videotaping or snapping a picture of another person when they are indecently exposed. Utah law does consider this voyeurism, however the charges are the same whether the person is dressed or not. Sneaking a picture of ANY part of someone’s body they would consider private can end in a class A misdemeanor or a 3rd degree felony if the person being looked over is under 14 years old. Dissemination of the images is a violation punishable as a 3rd degree felony or 2nd degree if the images are of a younger child.

Careful where you stare

Taking a picture or video isn’t necessary to be guilty of voyeurism. Merely looking (staring, ogling, gawking, rubbernecking) at a person’s private areas with or without clothing covering them is voyeurism. The lack of a picture simply brings it down a notch to a class B misdemeanor or a class A misdemeanor for a child under 14 years.

Ask permission first?

If someone crosses paths with another individual that they deem attractive, it could be incredibly uncomfortable to request their permission to look them over. That plea in itself would be entirely creepy to that other person. The only other option to avoid being guilty of voyeurism is to be a gentlemen (or a lady) and only view appropriate areas on them, such as their eyes, smile…or feet.

Excuse me, my eyes are up here

There are some notable problems with voyeurism laws:

• Who can be exactly sure WHERE another person is looking? This can apply to shorter people whose smile sits in close proximity to their chest area or to someone with an extremely distracting belt buckle.

Photo by: Helga Weber

Photo by: Helga Weber

• What about clothing that begs to be gawked over? Low cut shirts that reveal cleavage, short skirts or shorts, and tight clothing all trap individuals within close proximity to steal a glance, whether they want to or not. Should revealing clothing be considered consent?

For more information on voyeurism charges or laws regarding how to legally look at other people, contact a criminal defense attorney.