In North Carolina, Obtaining Property by False Pretenses is a felony. If the property obtained has a dollar value of less than $100,000.00, the crime is a Class 'H' felony. To obtain a conviction for "OPFP" the government must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a defendant is guilty of all the following elements:
1. made a representation about a past or existing fact or a future event
2. that was false and
3. was calculated and intended to deceive, AND
4. the representation did actually deceive another person (this includes associations, governments, corporations, etc) AND
5. the defendant thereby obtained, or attempted to obtain, money, goods, property, services...or any other thing of value from that person.
Most of these cases are low-level felonies. Examples I have seen often involve merchants and/or pawn shops- pawning an item that was stolen, attempting to use a real receipt to fraudulently return an item retrieve from a store shelf, attempting to pick up an online purchase twice, attempting to reuse a Coinstar receipt, etc. These charges also result from sale of an item that was not legally owned, and creation and attempted use of checks drawn on fraudulent accounts.
Because these are low-level felonies, a defendant with no prior criminal history might hope to be accepted into a diversion program, or allowed a plea bargain guilty plea to a misdemeanor, an outcome with less drastic life-changing consequences. However, as with all felonies, defendants with prior felony convictions and Class 1 misdemeanors should expect more serious consequences, including the possibility of an active prison sentence. In those cases, a favorable plea bargain may be difficult to obtain absent serious deficiencies with the prosecution's case or some outstanding mitigation.
Any criminal charge should be taken very seriously. The early assistance of an attorney might make a difference in the outcome of the case. The Law Office of Sean P. Cecil, PLLC offers free consultations on Wake County criminal matters and is available for misdemeanor and felony charges in Wake and the surrounding counties. Use the contact form in the sidebar, or call us at 919.828.1456 x5 to set up a consultation.