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.

Burglary and Robbery

When a thief breaks into a home and the resident is there, the burglary may turn into robbery instead.  Burglary and robbery are often used interchangeably and although they are both property crimes, the two are different according to Utah state law.

Photo by: Tim Samoff

Photo by: Tim Samoff

Burglary defined

Utah code 76-6-202 states that “An actor is guilty of burglary who enters or remains unlawfully in a building or any portion of a building with intent to commit: a felony, theft, […]”. Someone can commit burglary by breaking into a house while the homeowners are away on vacation.  Burglary, or breaking and entering, doesn’t necessarily have to involve the victim themselves, just their home and their belongings.

Robbery in comparison

76-6-301 states “A person commits robbery if: the person […] takes or attempts to take person property in the possession of another from his person, or immediate presence, against his will, by means of force or fear […]”.  Therefore to be considered robbery, a victim must be present at the scene of the crime and feel threatened or forced to give up their belongs by the intruder.  Likewise, robbery doesn’t have to involve a dwelling or building whereas burglary does.

Penalties for burglary and robbery

76-6-202 defines burglary as a 3rd degree felony “unless it was committed in a dwelling, in which event it is a second degree felony.” Robbery, whether it takes place in a dwelling or in public is always a 2nd degree felony as it involves another person directly.  If convicted, burglary and robbery charges can bring lengthy prison time.  Many criminals with a history of theft don’t fully understand the ramifications when they directly involve the victim or intrude on someone’s home. For anyone facing burglary and/or robbery charges, communicate with a criminal defense attorney immediately.

Theft, Other Charges for “Beer Run Bandit”

theft charges for beer run bandit

Photo: David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons

A man who attempted the theft of two 18-packs of beer on New Years Eve was arrested by the Weber County Sheriff’s Office. While the beer may have been for that evening’s celebrations, law enforcement officers don’t believe the man only stole from one store.

Don’t Send This Guy for Beer

Matthew Howell gives a whole new definition to the term “going on a beer run.” According to KSL News, on Dec. 31, Howell, nicknamed the “Beer Run Bandit” by police, entered a Pilot Flying J convenience store, picked up two 18-packs of Bud Light, and left the store without paying for them. Two employees saw the theft take place and followed Howell outside, where he got in a truck and locked the doors.

When one of the employees was noting the rear license plate number, Howell reversed the truck in high speed and nearly ran over the employee. However, after Howell drove away, the Weber County Sheriff’s Office was able to locate the truck in a hotel parking lot in Ogden. The deputy found Howell in one of the rooms with a female and an “extensive amount of beer” which led law enforcement to believe “the man has committed many similar crimes along the northern Wasatch Front.”

Howell was booked on suspicion of theft, aggravated assault, and aggravated robbery.

Theft Defined per Utah Criminal Code

According to Utah Criminal Code 76-4-404, theft is defined as obtaining or exercising unauthorized control over the property of another with a purpose to deprive that person of their property. However, it doesn’t have to be personal, as in taking something from someone directly. In the case of Howell, the “property” belongs to the owners of the gas station, even though they aren’t on the premises at the time of the incident.

Per Utah Criminal Code 76-4-412, theft may be charged as anything from a class B misdemeanor to a second degree felony depending on how the crime is carried out (as in with or without a weapon) and the property stolen. In Howell’s case, the theft would mostly likely be a class B misdemeanor for a property value less than $500. Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Six months in jail is a long time over just two 18-packs of beer. If you or someone you know has been convicted of theft, don’t leave your fate in the hands of a public defender. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who will look out for your best interests.