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Obtaining Property by False Pretenses Lawyers

The crime of obtaining property by false pretenses is not as well-known as other North Carolina crimes. This crime is a felony that can result in a sentence of years in prison. If you are facing the charge of obtaining property by false pretenses, it is essential to contact an experienced criminal defense team. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC we can help you fight for your rights throughout the criminal defense process. We can help you develop an assertive legal strategy no matter what charge you are facing.

The Crime of Obtaining Property by False Pretenses

Under North Carolina law, it is a crime to obtain something of value from someone else by false pretenses. The crime of obtaining property by false pretenses is defined as a false representation: (1) of a subsisting fact or a future fulfillment or event, (2) which is calculated and intended to deceive, (3) which does in fact deceive, and (4) by which one person obtains or attempts to obtain value from another.

Proving the Intent of the Crime

It is an essential element of obtaining property by false pretense that the act be done knowingly and designedly with intent to cheat or defraud. Because intent is seldom provable by direct evidence, it must ordinarily be proven by circumstances from which it may be inferred. In order to infer such intent, the jury may consider the acts and conduct of the defendant and the general circumstances existing at the time of the alleged crime charged.

One of the best defenses to charges for obtaining property by false pretenses is to provide evidence that the defendant did not intend to defraud the alleged victim. The prosecution has a heavy burden to prove that the defendant intended to defraud someone else. An indictment is deemed insufficient to charge an offence of obtaining property by false pretenses where the indictment fails to allege that defendant obtained or attempted to obtain anything with the intent to defraud.

The prosecution must prove the element of intent beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, evidence that the defendant did not fulfill a contractual obligation is not enough to prove intent to defraud. Negligence or ineptitude is not enough to constitute intentionally fraudulent behavior on the part of the defendant.

Obtaining Something of Value

To prove the crime of obtaining property by false pretenses, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant obtained something of value. The North Carolina statute defines “obtaining something of value as “any money, goods, property, services, chosen in action, or another thing of value.”

The prosecution must also prove that there is a causal relationship between the false representation and obtaining the thing of value. When there is zero evidence that the defendant obtained something of value through false representation, the prosecutor will not be able to prove the crime. When indicting the defendant on the alleged charge of obtaining property by false pretenses, the indictment must allege all of the essential elements of the offense.

Necessary Causal Connection in the Indictment

A bill of indictment for obtaining property by false pretense must contain allegations sufficient to state a causal connection between the alleged false representation and the obtaining of the property or money. An allegation that money or property was obtained "by means of a false pretense" is sufficient to allege the causal connection where the facts alleged are adequate to make clear that the delivery of the property was the result of the false representation.

Penalties for Obtaining Property by False Pretenses

Prosecutors can bring either a felony or misdemeanor charge for larceny. When the thing obtained by false pretenses is worth $100,000 or more, the defendant will be charged with a Class C felony. A Class C felony has a maximum punishment of 182 months. If the value of the goods obtained by false pretenses is less than $100,000 the defendant will be charged with a Class H felony. In North Carolina, the punishment for a Class H felony can be anywhere between 4 months unsupervised probation, to 39 months active prison time. The length of the sentence will depend on whether or not the defendant has prior convictions.

When a defendant does not have any prior convictions, they can receive intermediate punishments or community punishments, including probation. Nonetheless, defendants who commit a Class H felony will receive active jail time as a punishment and have the conviction on their criminal record.

Contact Our Charlotte Criminal Defense Lawyers Today

If you are facing charges of the crime of obtaining property by false pretenses, contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Call our office at (704) 370-2828 to evaluate your options or fill out our contact form. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville, and Monroe.