In order to be charged under criminal laws that govern the transfer of property title, goods and services, the perpetrator must gain access to those rights by misrepresenting an existing or past fact. The perpetrator cannot be charged with this crime if they make promises about their future, as the future cannot be predicted, and therefore, they may not have been aware that they made false promises.
Criminal law defines a presently existing fact as one being absent of any promises about the future. For example, a person that assures an individual of large returns when purchasing a business cannot be accused of false pretense because the assurance includes facts about the future.
Humans do not have the capability to predict the future and cannot be held legally responsible for the perception of what may happen in the future. This is a very necessary part of criminal law. For example, brokers would face criminal charges every day if they could be criminally charged due to their promises about the future. In fact, many business rely on their ability to make assumptions about the future without being held legally responsible if they are wrong.
Criminal laws do not hold people responsible for representing facts they assume to be true in the future. However, criminal law does allow prosecution of individuals that knowingly misrepresented existing fats in order to obtain property of others, goods and services.
There are many factors necessary for someone to face prosecution of theft through deception. Obviously, one of the factors necessary is deception. That deception can take shape in many ways. For example, a person may tell a homeowner that all of the houses on their street have lost value, maybe in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The desperate homeowner sells their home way below market value in order to bail themselves out. Later, they realize that home values on their street had not changed at all. In that case, the person that bought the house willingly distorted a presently existing fact in order to get the property title transferred. Criminal laws would likely allow that person to be prosecuted, but only if it can be proven that they did not actually believe their statements to be factual.
Recently, there has been a surge of companies that offer to bail homeowners out before they reach foreclosure. Unfortunately, many of those companies simply take advantage of those homeowners by deceiving them. Frequently, those companies end up with the title of the house in which they were supposed to be helping the homeowner.
Criminal laws now allow those individuals to be prosecuted vigorously because they knowingly deceived the homeowner in order to get the title of the property.
Criminal laws have sometimes lagged behind current events, such as the mortgage crisis. Luckily, there are criminal laws in place that cover such crimes, even though they are not specifically defined. Each criminal law that applies to theft through deception has been succinctly written to be clear and allow for many different types of crimes to be prosecuted due to the nature of the language.