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ⓘ Cheating (law)




Cheating (law)
                                     

ⓘ Cheating (law)

At law, cheating is a specific criminal offence relating to property.

Historically, to cheat was to commit a misdemeanour at common law. However, in most jurisdictions, the offence has now been codified into statute.

In most cases the codified statutory form of cheating and the original common law offence are very similar, however there can be differences. For example, under English law it was held in R. v. Sinclair that "o cheat and defraud is to act with deliberate dishonesty to the prejudice of another persons proprietary right." However, at common law a great deal of authority suggested that there had to be contrivance, such that the public were likely to be deceived and that "common prudence and caution are not sufficient security against a person being defrauded thereby".

Examples of cheating upheld by the courts have included fraudulently pretending to have power to discharge a soldier, using false weights or measures, and playing with false dice.

                                     

1. Definition

In relation to the common law offence, no judicial definition of the offence was ever laid down, but the description of the offence set down in Stephens Criminal Digest is regarded as fairly comprehensive, and is cited as an authoritative definition by Strouds Judicial Dictionary.

Every one commits the misdemeanour called cheating who fraudulently obtains the property of another by any deceitful practice not amounting to felony, which practice is of such a nature that it directly affects, or may directly affect, the public at large. But it is not cheating, within the meaning of this article, to deceive any person in any contract or private dealing by lies, unaccompanied by such practices as aforesaid.

                                     

2. England and Wales

The common law offence of cheating was abolished, except as regards offences relating to the public revenue, by section 321a of the Theft Act 1968.

Sentence

See R v Regan, Attorney Generals References Nos. 88, 89, 98 and 91 of 2006, and R v Meehan and others.

Cheating at play

This offence was formally created by section 17 of the Gaming Act 1845. The current English legislation on cheating in betting is found in s42 Gambling Act 2005.

                                     

2.1. England and Wales Cheating the public revenue

William Harkins said that "all frauds affecting the Crown and public at large are indictable as cheats at common law". This passage was cited in R v Mulligan.

Prosecutions under the common law are still pursued in England and can result in heavy sentences – significantly in excess of the maximum available to the courts for corresponding statutory offences.

The following cases are also relevant:

  • R v Hudson
  • R v Hunt
  • R v Redford
  • R v Mavji
                                     

2.2. England and Wales Cheating at play

This offence was formally created by section 17 of the Gaming Act 1845. The current English legislation on cheating in betting is found in s42 Gambling Act 2005.

                                     

2.3. England and Wales Going equipped for cheat

Before 15 January 2007, in section 25 of the Theft Act 1968, the word "cheat" meant an offence under section 15 of that Act. The said section 15 created the offence of obtaining property by deception.