Almost everyone knows what "theft" means in a general sense, but the legal sense can be somewhat different. For those facing theft charges, the details can be very important, and it can be valuable to understand the fine points of Georgia state law's definition of theft.
Theft by taking occurs when a person unlawfully takes possession of someone else's property. However, it's important to note that intent is a key element in the crime. If a person lawfully has possession of someone else's property and then unlawfully appropriates it with the intention of not giving it back, this, too, is theft by taking.
Theft by deception occurs when one person unlawfully obtains someone else's property through deceitful means with the intention of depriving the owner of the property.
State law further defines deception. A person who creates or affirms another person's impression of a fact that the accused knows to be false, has acted deceptively. Likewise, it's deception when the accused fails to correct a false impression that he or she has previously created, or when the accused prevents another person from acquiring information relevant to the exchange of the property. It's also deception to sell or transfer property while intentionally failing to disclose known liens, adverse claims or other impediments. Finally, it's deception to promise to perform services which the accused knows will not be performed or has no intention of performing.
Under this definition, a man may be found guilty of theft by deception if he buys a car in exchange for fixing his neighbor's roof, if the man takes the car but never intended to actually try to fix the roof.
The details are always important in criminal defense. Attorneys can help Georgia residents to understand how the law may apply to their circumstances.