Fairfax County and Northern Virginia False Pretenses Criminal Defense Attorney
False Pretenses (Va. Code 18.2-178) can be a misdemeanor or felony offense in Fairfax County or Northern Virginia, as elsewhere in Commonwealth of Virginia, depending on the level of alleged fraud. Offenses involving less than $200 in fraud are misdemeanors while those offenses involving $200 or more of fraud are felonies. Given the seriousness of this crime, anyone charged with a false pretense offense needs to consult with a lawyer that has not only previously handled false pretenses cases, but that has the judgment, skill, and reputation to obtain the best possible resolution of the matter.
Manikas Law LLC will ensure that he charges against you in Fairfax or Northern Virginia are fully investigated, all evidence is obtained, and all witnesses are interviewed. In these cases, witness testimony and facts are crucial. Our firm performs sound analysis of all evidence and possesses essential trial strategies to provide you with the best possible defense.
To discuss your case with Kyle G. Manikas, a former prosecutor and Fairfax and Northern Virginia false pretenses criminal defense attorney with substantial experience in handling false pretenses cases, or to schedule a free consultation, contact our law office at 703-873-7473 or 888-503-8075, or contact us by e-mail.
What is False Pretenses in Virginia?
The general false pretense crime is found in Virginia Code 18.2-178. The statute creates two false pretenses crimes: (1) obtaining property by false pretenses and (2) obtaining a signature by false pretenses.
Obtaining Property by False Pretenses - In order to obtain a conviction for false pretenses, the prosecutor must prove that accused intended to defraud the victim, that an actual fraud was committed, that false pretenses were used to commit the crime (i.e., a misrepresentation about an existing fact), and that the false pretenses caused the victim to turn over the property. The victim must turn over both title and possession for the crime of false pretenses to occur.
Obtaining a Signature by False Pretenses - To obtain a conviction for false pretenses based upon obtaining a signature by false pretenses, the prosecutor must prove that the accused intended to defraud the victim and that he obtained the signature of a person to a writing based upon a misrepresentation.
Penalty for False Pretenses in Virginia
Obtaining property by false pretenses is punishable as larceny. Therefore, misdemeanor false pretenses is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Felony false pretenses is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $2,500 fine. However, obtaining a signature by false pretense is punishable as a Class 4 felony. A Class 4 felony is punishable by a minimum of 2 years in jail and a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. Given the threshold between a felony and a misdemeanor can mean a 19 year difference in the maximum prison term, it is critical that any defense attorney fully explore and challenge any evidence as to the value of the fraud.
People often want to know, "What is the average jail time a person receives for a conviction of false pretenses?" However, as with other offenses, the answer is highly case specific and cannot be generalized. The answer in any given case will depend on the Virginia Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a person's prior criminal history, as well as a variety of other factors. A person with prior criminal convictions will receive more jail time than a person who has no prior criminal record. However, the Virginia Sentencing Guidelines are not mandatory guidelines. In other words, the judge is free to ignore the guidelines. If the crime is particularly egregious, the judge can impose additional jail time above and beyond what the guidelines recommend. Similarly, the judge can impose less jail time than the guideless recommend. Therefore, it is extremely important to have an experienced and respected defense attorney to defend and present your case.
Other False Pretenses & Frauds
• False Statements to Obtain Property or Credit (Va. Code 18.2-186). False Statements to Obtain Property or Credit can be both a misdemeanor and a felony depending on the value and is punishable by 12 month to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
• Contractor/Construction Fraud (Va. Code 18.2-200.1). If a person fails to perform on their promise for construction, in return for advances of money, merchandise or other thing of value, with fraudulent intent, the person taking the money will be guilty of the larceny of such money. As such, the offense will be punished as larceny with a maximum prison term of 12 months or 20 years, depending on whether the offense is a misdemeanor or a felony, and a fine of up to $2,500.
• Misuse of Public Assets (Va. Code 18.2-112.1). Misuse of Public Assets is a Class 4 felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.
• Fraudulent Entries in Accounts by Officers or Clerks of Financial Institutions (Va. Code 18.2-113). Fraudulent Entries in Accounts by Officers or Clerks of Financial Institutions is Class 4 felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.
• Fraudulent Conversion or Removal of Property Subject to Lien or Title (Va. Code 18.2-115). Fraudulent Conversion or Removal of Property Subject to Lien or Title is punishable as larceny; therefore, it is punishable by either a maximum prison term of 12 months or 20 years, depending on whether the offense is a misdemeanor or a felony, and a fine of up to $2,500.
• Fraudulent Conversion or Removal of Lease Personal Property (Va. Code 18.2-118). Fraudulent Conversion or Removal of Lease Personal Property is punishable as larceny; therefore, it is punishable by either a maximum prison term of 12 months or 20 years, depending on whether the offense is a misdemeanor or a felony, and a fine of up to $2,500.
• Pyramid Promotional Schemes (Va. Code 18.2-239). Every person who contrives, prepares, sets up, operates, advertises or promotes any pyramid promotional scheme shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. However, it is likely that a person involved in such as scheme would be charged with one or more felony offenses as well.
• Money Laundering (Va. Code 18.2-246.3). Any person that knowingly conducts a financial transaction where the person knows the property involved in the transaction represents the proceeds of an activity which is punishable as a felony is guilty of money laundering. Money laundering is punishable by imprisonment up to 40 years and a fine of up to $500,000.
Contact An Experienced Fairfax and Northern Virginia False Pretenses and Fraud Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for a false pretenses or fraud offense in Fairfax County or Northern Virginia, contact a former prosecutor and experienced criminal defense lawyer at Manikas Law LLC. Kyle G. Manikas has substantial experience in handling false pretenses and fraud cases.
To schedule a free consultation or to discuss your case by phone, contact our law office at 703-873-7473 or 888-503-8075, or contact us by e-mail.
For more general information about fraud offenses, review our Fraud and White Collar Crime page for additional information.