Double Jeopardy and False Statements to Obtain Property/Credit

| Aug 20, 2010 | Criminal Defense |

The Texas Court of Appeals held that pursuant to Tex. Pen. Code 32.32, the gravamen of the offense was the obtaining of credit, and that, ergo, the State could not get a conviction for each of the six false statements (the appellant was convicted six times under the statute) that the appellant made in order to obtain that credit in Jones v. State.  

The issue before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is whether each false statement that related to a separate matter could have caused the granting of credit in the amount of $200,000, was an allowable unit of prosecution.  If the gravamen of the statute is the obtaining of credit, the Court of Appeals was probably correct, but if the gravamen is the false statement, then a separate offense occurs for every false statement made.  If the latter is true, then no double jeopardy violation occurred in this case. 
There are a number of different ways to commit the offense of false statement to obtain credit.  On a mortgage loan, if you write that you intend to use the home as a primary residence and instead at that time you have another home that you live in and the loan is only a secondary property, then that is an offense.  If you inflate your income, then that is an offense.  You can also commit an offense when applying for a credit card loan, or if you fudge your income on a car or furniture loan.