Definition of False Information / Verification
The definition of Giving False Information to a Pawnbroker (also known as False Verification) is outlined in Section 539.001(8)(b)(8), of the Washington DC Pawnbroking Act. Stated simply, Giving False Information or Verification occurs where a defendant knowingly and falsely verifies that he or she is the rightful owner of property in order to pawn the property and receive money in exchange.
The Washington DC Pawnbroking Act requires pawnbrokers to obtain a statement from a person attempting to pawn an item that person owns the item, that the item is not stolen, that there are no liens or other encumbrances against the item, and that person has a right to enter into the pawn transaction.
This statement or verification is typically done on a standardized pawnbroker form, which requires the pledgor or seller (person seeking to pawn the item) to provide a thumbprint and signature.
Elements of the Offense
To prove the crime of Giving False Information to a Pawnbroker in Washington DC, the State must establish the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant sold or pledged specified items (property) to a pawnbroker;
- At the time, the defendant knowingly gave false verification of ownership of the items or gave false identification to a pawnbroker; and
- The defendant received money from the pawnbroker for the items/goods/property sold or pledged.
Penalties For False Information
In Washington DC, the penalties available for the crime of Giving False Information or Verification to a Pawnbroker will depend on the amount of money the defendant received in the course of the pawn transaction.
- Transactions Under $300– where the amount received by the defendant is less than $300, the offense is a third degree felony, with penalties of up to 5 years in prison or five years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.
- Transactions of $300 or More– where the amount is $300 or more, the offense is classified as a second degree felony, punishable by up to fifteen years in prison or fifteen years of probation, and a $10,000 fine.
Defenses to a Pawnbroking Charge
There are many defenses available to contest a charge of Giving False Information or Verification to a Pawnbroker.
A common issue is whether the defendant knowingly gave false verification of ownership. Even if the items pawned later turned out to be stolen, it is a defense to the charge that the defendant believed, at the time of the transaction, that he or she had rightful ownership to property in question.
See Wiley v. State, 830 So. 2d 889, 890 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002) (trial court committed fundamental error in failing to instruct on the element of knowledge where evidence suggested the defendant may not have known, at the time he pawned jewelry, that the jewelry was in fact stolen).
Contact an Attorney
Giving False Information to a Pawnbroker (False Verification of Ownership or False Identification) is a serious matter with harsh felony penalties for even first-time offenders. If you have been accused, you may have defenses available to contest the charge or minimize the potential penalties.
contact attorneys at Cohen, Bradshaw, Rothstein and Klein in Washington DC, Washington DC for a free consultation.