Fraud generally involves a deliberate and willful act—or failure to act—with a clear intent of receiving unlawful benefits. Such acts, including fraudulent actions by customers, vendors or other parties and include bribes or inducements, can lead to charges of fraud.
In some fraud cases, the fraud scheme may be so complex and insidious that even people who played no actual part in the fraud (and had no knowledge of the fraud) can be caught up in the consequences. Unfortunately, without an experienced San Diego fraud attorney on your side, you could find yourself find yourself facing serious penalties and consequences that can adversely affect your future.
Types of Fraud
There are many types of fraud a person can be charged with, including the following:
- Credit card fraud;
- Mortgage fraud;
- Consumer fraud;
- Bank fraud;
- Prescription fraud;
- Medi-Cal fraud;
- Internet fraud;
- Securities fraud;
- Tax fraud;
- Bankruptcy fraud;
- Foreclosure fraud;
- Healthcare Fraud;
- Mail fraud;
- Insurance fraud;
- Money laundering, or
- Wire fraud.
In the same vein, creating a fraudulent statement, financial report, employment credentials or other forms of external reporting can also result in fraud charges.
Money does not have to be a factor in fraud charges. For example:
- Requisitioning false assets,
- Removing or destroying records or equipment,
- The inappropriate disclosure of confidential information, or
- Any type of document forgery or alteration
can result in charges of fraud.
In most cases, money is an issue in fraud charges, such as cash asset misappropriation, “skimming,” check tampering, any type of fraudulent disbursement, or expense reimbursement schemes. Even conflicts of interest, illegal gratuities and bribery can fall under the wide umbrella of fraud charges.
Penalties for San Diego Fraud
If you have been charged with fraud, you must take the charges very seriously. Not only could you face the possibility of incarceration and stiff fines, you could also lose your job, or your business. Consumer fraud, in particular, is often at the top of the list of prosecutor’s agendas. As an example, the FTC publishes lists which detail the top areas of complaints coming in from consumers and then targeted by law enforcement. Any type of transaction in which consumers purchase a product which does not work as advertised can fall under consumer fraud.
Whether you will face jail time and/or steep fines will depend on the severity of your charges, whether you are being charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, and whether you are being charged under state or federal violations of the fraud laws. Even a misdemeanor fraud conviction can result in fines as much as several thousand dollars, while a felony fraud conviction can result in fines as high as $10,000. Many people convicted of fraud are required to pay restitution to their victims for any damages and losses suffered. When a public service (such as the U.S. Postal Service) is used in the commission of the crime, it could be charged as a federal matter.
The amount of money involved, the location of the crime, and the operation methods will also determine whether the crime will be charged under federal laws. The amount of jail or prison time for a fraud conviction is largely dependent on the type of fraud and the specific circumstances. As an example, bad-check fraud is charged under California Penal Code 476(a), either as a felony or a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor bad-check conviction could result in up to a year in county jail, while a felony bad-check conviction could result in a sentence of 16 months to three years in a California state prison.
What to Do if You’ve Been Charged with Fraud
If you have been charged with the crime of fraud, you may be uncertain what you should do next to minimize the immediate and long-term consequences. In most cases, fraud will include some sort of intentional statement of fact which was not actually true. The person making that statement had to know at the time he or she made it, that the statement was not true. Beyond making a false statement, the person whom the statement was made to must have taken some sort of action based on that statement and consequently suffered a loss. “Loss” could constitute monetary or property loss as well as the loss of a specific opportunity. If you are arrested for the charge of fraud, first and foremost, exercise your right to remain silent.
The Miranda Warning exists for a reason. While you may feel that the police officer questioning you is trying to help and that if you just answer the questions honestly the nightmare of your arrest will go away—don’t believe that for a moment. Police officers are trained to extract information from suspects and as Miranda states—“Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Anything the officer can get you to say will absolutely be used against you, no matter how innocent the comment or answer to a question was. Your words can be twisted and turned and used to send you to prison, so politely decline to answer any questions other than your name and address until your attorney arrives.
Potential Defenses for Fraud Charges in San Diego
Your fraud case has unique aspects, therefore what defense your criminal attorney will use will depend on the specifics of your case. Some of the more common defenses for fraud charges include:
- There was no fraudulent intent to commit the alleged crime;
- You are innocent—i.e. mistaken identity may be involved;
- Police entrapment (can be very hard to prove);
Call San Diego Fraud Attorney Vikas Bajaj Today
The sooner you have an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner, the better your future will look. Your attorney will have the necessary knowledge and the resources to fully investigate your fraud case and determine the best course of action for your future.