|Scope of criminal liability|
|Severity of offense|
|Offence against the person|
|Crimes against property|
|Crimes against justice|
|Crimes against the public|
|Crimes against animals|
|Crimes against the state|
|Defences to liability|
|Other common-law areas|
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 "[t]o cheat and defraud is to act with deliberate dishonesty to the prejudice of another person's 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".
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 Stephen's Criminal Digest is regarded as fairly comprehensive, and is cited as an authoritative definition by Stroud's 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.
The common law offence of cheating was abolished, except as regards offences relating to the public revenue, by section 32(1)(a) of the Theft Act 1968.
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:
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.
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.