The Law Firm of

Erin L.T. Ranney, PLLC

Attorneys At Law

Phone:   (804) 318-1151  or (804) 212-5252

Taking criminal and traffic defense cases in Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Richmond, Henrico, New Kent, Hanover, Caroline, Hopewell, Prince George, Dinwiddie, Petersburg, Emporia, Greensville, Sussex, and across Virginia


Providing counsel on family law matters, including divorce, custody, visitation, support, and adoption


Providing estate planning services to those in Virginia, including wills, trusts, power of attorney, and advanced medical directives

Criminal Law Spotlight - April 2018

Fraud, Theft by Fraud, Obtaining by False Pretenses


Fraud is a broad term and encompasses a large number of crimes.  The entire Chapter 6 in Title 18.2 of the Virginia Code is entitled "Crimes Involving Fraud".  I thought I would focus on the most frequently seen offenses:

18.2-168. Forging public records, etc.

If any person forge a public record, or certificate, return, or attestation, of any public officer or public employee, in relation to any matter wherein such certificate, return, or attestation may be received as legal proof, or utter, or attempt to employ as true, such forged record, certificate, return, or attestation, knowing the same to be forged, he shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony.

(Code 1950, 18.1-92; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1976, c. 146.)

18.2-172. Forging, uttering, etc., other writings.

If any person forge any writing, other than such as is mentioned in  18.2-168 and 18.2-170, to the prejudice of another's right, or utter, or attempt to employ as true, such forged writing, knowing it to be forged, he shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony. Any person who shall obtain, by any false pretense or token, the signature of another person, to any such writing, with intent to defraud any other person, shall be deemed guilty of the forgery thereof, and shall be subject to like punishment.

(Code 1950,  18.1-96; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15.)


18.2-178. Obtaining money or signature, etc., by false pretense.

A. If any person obtain, by any false pretense or token, from any person, with intent to defraud, money, a gift certificate or other property that may be the subject of larceny, he shall be deemed guilty of larceny thereof; or if he obtain, by any false pretense or token, with such intent, the signature of any person to a writing, the false making whereof would be forgery, he shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony.

B. Venue for the trial of any person charged with an offense under this section may be in the county or city in which (i) any act was performed in furtherance of the offense, or (ii) the person charged with the offense resided at the time of the offense.

(Code 1950,  18.1-118; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 2001, c. 131; 2006, c. 321.)


18.2-181. Issuing bad checks, etc., larceny.

Any person who, with intent to defraud, shall make or draw or utter or deliver any check, draft, or order for the payment of money, upon any bank, banking institution, trust company, or other depository, knowing, at the time of such making, drawing, uttering or delivering, that the maker or drawer has not sufficient funds in, or credit with, such bank, banking institution, trust company, or other depository, for the payment of such check, draft or order, although no express representation is made in reference thereto, shall be guilty of larceny; and, if this check, draft, or order has a represented value of $200 or more, such person shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. In cases in which such value is less than $200, the person shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The word "credit" as used herein, shall be construed to mean any arrangement or understanding with the bank, trust company, or other depository for the payment of such check, draft or order.

Any person making, drawing, uttering or delivering any such check, draft or order in payment as a present consideration for goods or services for the purposes set out in this section shall be guilty as provided herein.

(Code 1950,  6.1-115; 1966, c. 584; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1978, c. 791; 1981, c. 230.)


- There is a presumption under the law that if a person passes a check that returns insufficient funds or "closed account" that they knew that account was no good.  this presumption only applies if the vendor recieving the check sends notice, by certified mail, that the check was dishonored and the person does not respond within 5 days.  Va. Code. 18.2-183.

- If a person passes two or more bad checks in a 90 day period, that is a seperate crime.  Va. Code 18.2-181.1

- To prove a charge of Obtaining by False Pretense the Commonwealth must prove that someone must engage in a fraudulent act, using some sort of false behavior or representation, that the false representation caused the fraud, and that the person did so intentionally.  Hubbard v. Commonwealth, 109 S.E.2d 100.

- When charging a person with passing a bad check, the Commonwealth must prove that the person intended to defraud the receiver of the check at the time of the making of the check.  Bolinksy v. Commonwealth, Ct. of Appeals, Feb. 14, 1995).

- Forging a public record includes writing someone else's name on a traffic summons.  Blake v. Commonwealth, Ct. of Appeals, Jan. 20, 1998).

- Forging and Uttering checks are two separate offenses and are usually charged as such.  Johnson v. Commonwealth, 46 S.E.2d 789.

- Forging means the actual action of filling it in or signing it falsely whereas "Uttering" means the act of passing the check to someone. 

- The unexplained possession of a forged check or instrument creates prima facie evidence that the person who has it, is the one that forged it. Bullock v. Commonwealth, 138 S.E.2d 261. 

Remember, fraud is a complicated type of case with a variety of dispostions.   These are just a few highlights of the fraud law in Virginia.  If you are charged any kind of fraud or any criminal offense call me today for a free consultation.

Fraud Facts


Many of the crimes that constitute fraud, such as Obtaining by False Pretense, Bad Check, and others may be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the amount of the money received.  If the amount is greater than $200, it is a felony.  Below $200 is a misdemeanor.


Forging and Uttering Checks are always felony crimes, as is Forging a Public Document.

Maximum punishment:

Misdemeanor - maximum of 12 months in jail, $2500 fine.

Felony - Range of punishments depending on what class of felony III-VI.  Class VI felonies, the lowest class of felonies, carry a maximum penalty of up to 5 years in prison and up to $2500 fine.

Interesting Facts:  A person can be found guilty of as many as five separate crimes simply by passing a check that is not theirs OR that they know is not good.