Theft by Deception

207-571-8146

Maine Theft Defense Attorney

Serving the Augusta, Portland, Bangor, Biddeford, and Saco Areas

Even though the basic idea of theft is simple, there are lots of different laws regarding theft. This is largely because the state of Maine has decided that some ways of stealing something are more serious than others, and should carry harsher punishments. As a result, there are a lot of complex problems that can be difficult to keep straight, even though it all started with something incredibly simple.

According to the laws of Maine, basic theft is “obtaining or exercising unauthorized control over the property of another with intent of deprive the other person of the property.” However, because there are lots of different ways for someone to “obtain or exercise unauthorized control over the property of another,” there are lots of laws that deal specifically with each of these different ways of doing it.

Theft by deception is one of them.

Deception

There are countless ways of deceiving someone. The possible lies that can be told in any given situation are literally infinite. It's not uncommon, or difficult, really, to use deception to get someone else's property.

The theft laws of Maine, however, see five different ways of deceiving someone. We'll start off by summarizing them, before going through the most specific, complex ones in more depth.

Under Maine law, theft by deception occurs if you steal someone else's property by intentionally:

  1. Creating or reinforcing a false impression that you do not believe to be true,
  2. Failing to correct a false impression that you created or reinforced,
  3. Failing to correct a false impression, if you know it is influencing the person with the property, and if you are in a “fiduciary relationship” with them,
  4. Preventing someone from getting information relevant to the disposition of their property
  5. Transferring property without disclosing someone else's interest in it.

Some of these categories are very broad, and include lots of different ways of deceiving someone. Others are very specific, and are clearly only meant to make certain, small acts illegal.

Among the very specific ways that you can be charged with theft by deception are #3, 4, and 5.

Being in a “fiduciary relationship” with someone else means that the other person is counting on you for your ability or expertise, and would be lost, without you. Examples of a fiduciary relationship are a lawyer and his or her client, or a stock broker and the person who owns the money that they manage. Under Maine law, being in a fiduciary relationship can lead to theft by deception charges, if the person in the relationship's position of power does not point out the truth behind a lie or other falsehood, when that person knows it's influencing the weaker party in the fiduciary relationship.

Theft by deception charges can also result if you sell property without disclosing all of the other interests in it. This sounds complex, but a straightforward example can make it seem simple. Imagine that you and your sibling own a car. Because you both own it, you only own 50% of the car. However, you decide to sell the car, and don't tell your sibling. When someone comes to buy it, you decide not to tell them that 50% of the car is owned by your sibling. They buy your car, and pay you the money. This is theft by deception, because you did not disclose someone else's interest in the property that you just sold, or transferred.

Penalties

The criminal penalties that you could face, if you get convicted for theft by deception, depend on the value of the property that was taken.

Value of Property

Class of Crime

Jail Time

Fines

Statute

Under $500

Class E Misdemeanor

Up to 180 days

Up to $1,000

17A §354 (1)(B)

$500 - $1,000

Class D Misdemeanor

Up to 1 year

Up to $2,000

17A §354 (1)(B)(5)

$1,000 - $10,000

Class C Felony

Up to 5 years

Up to $5,000

17A §354 (1)(B)(4)

Over $10,000

Class B Felony

Up to 10 years

Up to $20,000

17A §354 (1)(B)(1)

If the property that gets stolen is a firearm or explosive, however, no matter how valuable it is, you'll face a felony theft charge, shown at the bottom row of the table. Things also change if you have two prior theft convictions. If this is the case, and you're facing a new charge for petty theft – under $500 of property stolen – then you'll face charges and penalties for a Class C felony, rather than for a Class E misdemeanor.

These are only the criminal sanctions that you would face, if convicted for theft by deception. You could also face a civil lawsuit by the owner of the property, looking to recover the value of what was taken.

This makes it important to determine the “value” of what was stolen. Luckily, the law of Maine sees a thing's “value” as how much it would sell for, not how much it meant to the person who lost it. This prevents the owner of the taken property from claiming that it was worth far more than it actually is, simply because they were “emotionally attached to it.”

Conclusion

If you've been charged with theft by deception, a good criminal defense attorney can help. Regardless of what the outcome to be – whether you just want to plead guilty and minimize the penalties, or whether you want to take the case to trial and fight for an acquittal – attorneys like William T. Bly can be a lifesaver. Their knowledge of the criminal charges, as well as what the prosecutor has to prove to get a conviction, and the best ways to prevent them from proving it, are often the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.

A conviction for theft by deception, even petty theft by deception, can lead to half of a year behind bars. William T. Bly is known for helping his clients out in whatever way possible. Call his law office at (207) 571-8146.

WTB Law

Here at WTB Law, we provide professional and aggressive criminal defense representation that exceeds the expectations of our clients and secures their freedom and their future.

Contact Us Today

What distinguishes our firm from the numerous law firms throughout the state is that we genuinely care about the well-being of our clients. Because Attorney Bly is a sole practitioner, every client receives hands-on and personalized attention from Attorney Bly and our staff throughout the entirety of their case.

50 Adams Street
Biddeford, ME 04005
(207) 571-8146
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri: 08:00am - 05:00pm

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