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Theft by False Pretenses Defense

Penal Code 532, 532/484(a) & 532/487(a)

Information on the crime of theft by false pretenses is found at California penal code section 532. The criminal charge of theft by false pretenses is filed under PC 532/484(a) or 532/487(a).

PC 32 Law & Definition

Every person who knowingly and designedly, by any false or fraudulent representation or pretense, defrauds any other person of money, labor, or property, whether real or personal, or who causes or procures others to report falsely of his or her wealth or mercantile character, and by thus imposing upon any person obtains credit, and thereby fraudulently gets possession of money or property, or obtains the labor or service of another, is punishable in the same manner and to the same extent as for larceny of the money or property so obtained (PC 532(a)).

Upon a trial for having, with an intent to cheat or defraud another designedly, by any false pretense, obtained the signature of any person to a written instrument, or having obtained from any person any labor, money, or property, whether real or personal, or valuable thing, the defendant cannot be convicted if the false pretense was expressed in language unaccompanied by a false token or writing, unless the pretense, or some note or memorandum thereof is in writing, subscribed by or in the handwriting of the defendant, or unless the pretense is proven by the testimony of two witnesses, or that of one witness and corroborating circumstances....(PC 532(b)).

In order for the district attorney to prove that the defendant committed theft by false pretenses he or she must prove that:

  • The defendant handwrote, or signed, a writing that included materially false information, or an ommission of material information, and
  • The defendant knew that the representation in the writing, or omission of information in the writing, rendered the the writing was false, and
  • The defendant presented the writing with the false representations or omissions to another person with the intent to pursuade that person to relinguish property based on the false writing, and
  • The other person relinquished possession of the property sought by the defendant after he or she detrimentally and reasonably relied on the defendant's written false representations or ommisions.

Note: Property includes: money, labor, real estate, and personal property.

As stated, a theft by false pretenses (representations) may be shown by the ommission of a fact in a writing if the omission of the fact was material (important), so long as the other elements of the crime are present: the defendant knew that the writing was false, the defendant knew that the other person reasonably believed the representations in the writing were ture, and the other person relinguished property after reasonably relying on the false writing.

Theft by false pretenses may also be charged where the information in the writing is true, but the defendant never intended to fulfill any promise made in the writing.

Punishment & Sentence for PC 32

The crime of theft by fales pretenses may be charged either as a felony or as a misdemeanor. When theft by false pretenses is charged as a felony the defendant may be punished by a prison sentence of up to three years (PC 532/484(a) & 532/487(a)). When theft by false pretenses is chargred as a misdemeanor the defendant may be punished by a jail sentence of up to one year (PC 532/484(a) & 532/487(a)).

Probation Sentence: PC 532 crimes do not carry any mimimum amount of jail or prison sentence. In fact, a probation sentence, without jail or prison, is available in some cases. Whether or not a probation sentence is available in any case depends on the circumstances of the case and the defendant's criminal history.

Crimes of Moral Turpitde: Misdemeanor and felony charges of theft by false pretenses are considered crimes of moral turpitude, whcih menas that the charges are considered morally wrong. Crimes of moral tupitude carry special punishment with immigration caes and professional licesning cases (doctors, dentist, nurses, lawerys, etc.).

Firearm Prohibition: If convicted of any felony PC 532 crime, including PC 532/484(a) or 532/487(a), the defendant will be prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm for the remainder of his or her life.

Strike Crime: The crime of theft by false pretenses is not considered a strike offense under California's Three Strikes Sentencing Law, which means that PC 532 is not considered a serious or violent offense.

Other Punishment for PC 532: In addition to any jail or prison sentence, if convicted of theft by false pretenses, the defendant may face other penalties, including: fines, restitution to vicitms, criminal protective orders, harsh probation or parole terms, and more.

Defense to PC 532/484(a) & 532/487(a)

Common defenses to PC 532 charges include: mistake of fact, insufficient evidence to prove the defendant knew that any information or omission in a writing was false. coerced confessions, and more.

If you have been charged with a violation of penal code 532, or theft by false pretenses, contact our law firm today for a free consultation. Our criminal defense attorneys are experienced and successful and our office is open twenty-hours a day to answer all of your questions. Call today!


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California Theft By False Pretenses Law & Defense / Penal Code 532

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