With all of the rules and regulations that determine when and how certain acts are permissible in modern life, inadvertently tripping one of these lines is not terribly difficult to do. Claims of fraud is an area particularly prone to unfair allegations, mainly due to the large number of crimes associated with certain acts, and a criminal defense attorney should be contacted if charges are likely or pending. Almost any type of transaction or exchange can assume fraudulent overtones, as the basic definition of this offense only requires a person commit an act that results in an unfair benefit for oneself and/or causes harm or loss to another. This definition for fraud is seemingly open-ended, and California also has many additional offenses that address specific situations or acts that could lead to criminal culpability. In fact, most fraudulent acts are claimed to be motivated by a desire to escape criminal responsibility or incur a financial gain. Two men from California were recently charged with fraud in connection with attempts to purchase a business with foreign currency. An overview of the types of offenses that fall under California fraud crimes, and some options for defending against these allegations, will follow below.
Fraud Crimes Generally
Fraud charges can quickly become complicated situations, as they often involve both State and federal law, leaving the accused open to criminal penalties in both courts. Further, many of these offenses may be charged as misdemeanor or felonies, known as wobblers, another avenue for a defendant to see harsher sentences. In addition, convictions permit the revocation or suspension of professional licenses, and the seizure of assets involved in the fraudulent activity. Thus, a person convicted of a fraud-related crime could see penalties that directly impact their financial and professional stability, which is an essential reason these charges should be vigorously challenged to the fullest extent possible.
California has too many fraud-related offenses to review in detail, but they generally fall into the following categories, with some examples:
- insurance – auto, health, unemployment, public assistance, workers’ compensation, etc. (filing a false claim for benefits, falsifying documents);
- real estate and mortgage (foraging a deed, renting property without authority);
- general financial fraud (using someone else’s credit card, altering a company’s financial statements);
- forgery and identity theft (counterfeit driver’s license, forwarding a computer virus); and
- mail fraud – this is a federal offense (mailing a forged check, advertising false services through the mail).
Given the punishments a person can receive for these offenses, on multiple levels, providing an adequate defense to at least mitigate the outcome is essential. Fraud is an intent-based crime, meaning the alleged perpetrator must specifically intend to derive an undeserved benefit from someone else. Thus, if such an intent did not exist, he/she cannot be guilty of fraud. Note that motive and intent are two distinct concepts that are often confused, but are not the same for purposes of presenting a legal defense. Another defense that can be applicable to fraud charges is entrapment. Entrapment occurs when a person committed a crime only because police lured him/her into doing so. Note that the conduct by police must occur in their official capacity and involve pressure, harassment or fraud to be considered entrapment. Further, merely presenting the opportunity to commit a criminal act will not be enough to prove entrapment, but a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will know how to best present this defense to a jury. Proving entrapment requires dismissal of criminal charges, so it is a powerful defense when available.
Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney
Dealing with police and prosecutors on your own is never a good idea. You need someone with the knowledge and resources to effectively defend your rights and give you a real chance at beating any criminal charges. Manshoory Law Group, APC help clients in the Los Angeles area fight police claims and State charges, and are available to discuss the details of your case. Attorneys are available 24/7 to take your call. Contact us for a consultation today.