What is Deceit?

Legal Definition
Tort. A fraudulent. misrepresentation or contrivance, by which one man deceives another, who has no means of detecting the fraud, to the injury and damage of the latter.

2. Fraud, or the intention to deceive, is the very essence of this injury, for if the party misrepresenting was himiself mistaken, no blame can attach to him. The representation must be made malo animo, but whether or not the party is himself to gain by it, is wholly immaterial.

3. Deceit may not only be by asserting a falsebood deliberately to the injury of another as, that Paul is in flourishing circumstances, whereas he is in truth insolvent; that Peter is an honest man, when he knew him to be a, rogue; that property, real or personal, possesses certain qualities, or belongs to the vendor, whereas he knew these things to be false; but by any act or demeanor which would naturally impress the mind of a careful man with a mistaken belief.

4. Therefore, if one whose manufactures are of a superior quality, distinguishes them by a particular mark, which facts are known to Peter, and Paul counterfeits this work, and affixes them to articles of the same description, but not made by such person, and sells them to Peter as goods of such manufacture, this is a deceit.

5. Again, the vendor having a knowledge of a defect in a commodity which cannot be obvious to the buyer, does not disclose it, or, if apparent, uses an artifice and conceals it, he has been guilty of a fraudulent misrepresentation for there is an implied condition in every contract that the parties to it act upon equal terms, and the seller is presumed to have assured or represented to the vendee that he is not aware of any secret deficiencies by which the commodity is impaired, and that he has no advantage which himself does not possess.

6. But in all these cases the party injured must have no means of detecting the fraud, for if he has such means his ignorance will not avail him in that case he becomes the willing dupe of the other's artifice, and volenti non fit injuria. For example, if a horse is sold wanting an eye, and the defect is visible to a common observer, the purchaser cannot be said to be deceived, for by inspection he might discover it, but if the blindness is only discoverable by one experienced in such diseases, and the vendee is an inexperienced person, it is a deceit, provided the seller knew of the defect.

7. The remedy for a deceit, unless the right of action has been suspended or discharged, is by an action of trespass on the case. The old writ of deceit was brought for acknowledging a fine, or the like, in another name, and this being a perversion of law to an evil purpose, and a high contempt, the act was laid contra pacem, and a fine imposed upon the offender. See Bro. Abr. Disceit; Vin Abr. Disceit.

8. When two or more persons unite in a deceit upon another, they may be indicted for a conspiracy. (q. v.) Vide, generally, 2 Bouv. Inst. n. 2321-29; Skin. 119; Sid. 375; 3 T. R. 52-65; 1 Lev. 247; 1 Strange, 583; D Roll. Abr. 106; 7 Barr, Rep. 296; 11 Serg. & R. 309, 310; Com. Dig. Action upon the case for a deceit; Chancery, 3 F 1 and 2; 3 M 1; 3 N 1; 4 D 3; 4 H 4; 4 L 1; 4 O 2; Covin; Justices of the Peace, B 30; Pleader, 2 H; 1 Vin. Ab. 560; 8 Vin. Ab. 490; Doct. Pl. 51; Dane's Ab. Index, h. t.; 1 Chit. Pr. 832 Ham. N. P. c. 2, s. 4; Ayl. Pand. 99 2 Day, 531; 12 Mass. 20; 3 Johns. 269; 6 Johns. 181; 2 Day, 205, 381; 4 Yeates, 522; 18 John. 395: 8 John. 23; 4 Bibb, 91; 1 N. & M. 197. Vide, also, articles Equality; Fraud; Lie.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
A fraudulent and cheating misrepresentation, artifice or device, used by one or more persons to. deceive and trick another, who is ignorant of the true facts, to the prejudico and damage of the party imposed upon. People v. Chadwick, 143 Cal. 116, 76 Pac. 884; Reynolds v. Palmer (0. Ct) 21 Fed. 433; French v. Vining, 102 Mass. 132, 3 Am. Rep. 440; Swift v. Rounds, 19 R. I. 527, 35 Atl. 45, 33 L. R. A. 561, 61 Am. St. Rep. 791; In re Post, 54 Hun, 634, 7 N. Y. Supp. 438; Civ. Code Mont. 1895, § 2292.

A subtle trick or device, whereunto may be referred all manner of craft and collusion used to deceive and defraud another by any means whatsoever, which hath no other or more proper name than deceit to distinguish the offence. [West Symb. § 68;] Jacob.

The word "deceit," as well as "fraud," excludes the idea of mistake, and imports knowledge that the artifice or device used to deceive or defraud is untrue. Farwell v. Metcalf, 61 111. 373.

In old English law. The name of an original writ, and the action founded on it, which lay to recover damages for any injury committed deceitfully, either in the name of another, (as by bringing an action in another's name, and then suffering a nonsuit, whereby the plaintiff became liable to costs,) or by a fraudulent warranty of goods, or other personal injury committed contrary to good faith and honesty. Reg. Orig. 112-116; Fitzh. Nat. Brev. 95, E, 98.

Also the name of a judicial writ which formerly lay to recover lands which had been lost by default by the tenant in a real action, in consequence of his not having been summoned by the sheriff, or by the collusion of his attorney. Rose. Real Act 136; 3 Bl. Comm. 166. See Deceitful plea.
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
Fraud; a false representation made with intent to deceive, and relied upon to his damage by the party injured. See 102 Mass. 132, 3 Am. Rep. 440.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary