Every state has laws regarding deceptive trade practices. Mainly, these address businesses or individuals who sell goods or services while falsely representing what the consumers purchases. These torts are considered an offense against the general public and can lead to criminal prosecution by the state’s attorney general, district attorney, county counsel, city attorney, or city prosecutor. The prosecution can bring their complaint or act upon the claim of a person, association, corporation, board, or officer who is injured or damaged by this deception. Plaintiffs should not take action unless government entities refuse to.
There are numerous examples of deceptive trade practices. These include:
- Tampering with a vehicle’s odometer
- Representing goods as new when they are resold
- Describing products as original when they are counterfeit
- Advertising goods or services with no intention of selling them as advertised
- Representing goods or services as having a sponsorship, certification or approval
Penalties for such actions
Different crimes have different penalties. False advertising, for example, is a misdemeanor that can involve up to a $2,500 fine and six months in the county jail. The courts here have the authority to issue judgments, orders or injunctions so that damages can be awarded to the plaintiff by those who violated the law.
What to do if facing charges
Businesses, often small and local ones, may be held accountable for the actions of others. This can apply to an employee’s fraudulent sales practices or the sale of counterfeit products that a wholesaler sold to them. In cases such as these, it is unlikely that they will see jail time, but businesses may still face fines.
It is wise to take deceptive trade practices seriously and to contact an attorney who has experience with business law matters. They can help protect the interests of the business or the plaintiff to better ensure that the charges fit the crime.