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Deceit is a key element of the tort of fraud.  Though primarily a common law concept, deceit is sometimes defined by states in either criminal or civil statutes.  For example:

●      Ohio defines "deception" as knowingly deceiving another or causing another to be deceived by any false or misleading representation, by withholding information, by preventing another from acquiring information, or by any other conduct, act, or omission that creates, confirms, or perpetuates a false impression in another, including a false impression as to law, value, state of mind, or other objective or subjective fact" in Section 2913.01 of its criminal code.

●      In New Jersey, "The term 'deceive' does not, however, include falsity as to matters having no pecuniary significance, or puffing or exaggeration by statements unlikely to deceive ordinary persons in the group addressed."

●      ​California has a statute that defines deceit in the context of civil fraud.  California Civil Code Section 1710defines deceit as either:

1.    The suggestion, as a fact, of that which is not true, by one who does not believe it to be true;

2.    The assertion, as a fact, of that which is not true, by one who has no reasonable ground for believing it to be true;

3.    The suppression of a fact, by one who is bound to disclose it, or who gives information of other facts which are likely to mislead for want of communication of that fact; or,

4.    A promise, made without any intention of performing it.

Last updated in May of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team​