If you are facing fraud charges, you want to know your legal options and what to expect, and for that you need advice from an experienced criminal defence lawyer. Barrie fraud lawyer David Wilcox has extensive experience defending all types of fraud charges, which can involve lengthy and complicated criminal court proceedings, particularly if the case involves complex financial transactions or a significant amount of money or property. It is not easy to defend yourself against fraud charges, and if you are ultimately convicted of fraud, the penalties imposed can be severe. In this post, our Barrie criminal lawyer will discuss what to expect if you are charged with fraud.
WHAT IS FRAUD?
Fraud is obtaining property, money, valuables, or services through deceit or dishonesty. If the alleged fraudulent activity took place over an extended period of time or involved several transactions, it is possible to face multiple counts of fraud. Fraud is taken very seriously by the police and the courts. Even if you were not the “mastermind” behind a fraudulent scheme, you can still be charged and convicted by association.
HOW SERIOUS IS MY FRAUD CHARGE?
There are many different types of fraud, including credit card fraud, tax fraud, corporate fraud, insurance fraud, real estate fraud, inheritance fraud, securities fraud, forgery, and phishing. While there are many types or ways of committing fraud, the seriousness of a fraud charge is determined by the monetary value involved (in other words, the value of the allegedly defrauded money, property or service). The two main categories are fraud under $5,000 and fraud over $5,000.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT WHEN FACING A CHARGE OF FRAUD UNDER $5,000?
Fraud under $5,000 is the less serious of the two categories of fraud charges. However, fraud under $5,000 is a hybrid offence, which means that the prosecutor has the discretion to decide whether to treat it as a summary or indictable offence. The Crown prosecutor’s decision has a significant impact on the potential penalties you face on conviction:
If the Crown proceeds by indictment the maximum prison sentence for fraud under $5,000 is two years.
If the Crown proceeds summarily the maximum prison sentence for fraud under $5,000 is six months.
In addition to a prison sentence, it is open to the court to impose fines and other penalties on conviction for fraud under $5,000. For that reason, it is crucial that you have an experienced fraud lawyer on your side as early as possible to get the charges dropped or reduced, and to explore mitigating circumstances (for example, restitution in exchange with withdraw or reduction of the charge).
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT IF CHARGED WITH FRAUD OVER $5,000?
If the monetary value involved in the alleged offence exceeds $5,000 or if the alleged offence involved a testamentary instrument (e.g. someone’s Will), it is always treated as an indictable offence. The maximum prison sentence is 14 years, in addition to other fines and penalties. It is also important to understand that if the total amount involved in the alleged offence is more than $1 million, the Criminal Code imposes a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years in prison. The only way to address fraud over $5,000 is with a strategic legal approach and strong criminal defence.
HOW CAN A CRIMINAL DEFENCE LAWYER HELP ME?
Fraud charges often come about after a lengthy period of investigation that involves a significant paper trail. If you are under investigation, contact our Barrie criminal defence lawyer before speaking with the police to ensure that your rights are protected and you do not incriminate yourself. The Crown must prove intent to defraud, and it is more challenging and time-consuming for the Crown to prove the offence when the case involves complex financial transactions and a long paper trail. For those reasons, it is of vital importance that you consult to an experienced fraud lawyer ASAP if you are charged. The Crown may be inclined to withdraw or reduce charges to avoid the need for lengthy court proceedings to prove the offence; a skilled criminal defence lawyer can handle plea bargaining on your behalf. A skillful criminal defence lawyer will also find weaknesses in the Crown’s evidence and can have crucial pieces of evidence against you excluded, reducing the likelihood of conviction.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT IF I AM CONVICTED OF FRAUD?
In addition to the potential for jail time as discussed above, there are numerous other potential penalties upon conviction for fraud, including fines, restitution, and community service. You will have a criminal record which can restrict many aspects of your life, including employment, volunteering, housing, travel, and immigration. Your credit score may also be impacted, making it difficult to borrow money or purchase a home in the future. A criminal fraud conviction will also harm your reputation and having a criminal record show up on your background check may have the effect of barring you from working in certain sectors, especially those related to finance, securities, bookkeeping, or other corporate positions. In fact, the court can make a specific order that prohibits you from seeking, obtaining, or continuing employment or volunteering in any capacity that involves you having authority over property, money, or valuables of another person. The consequences of a fraud conviction are too severe and wide-reaching to leave to chance.
GET ADVICE FROM DAVID WILCOX, BARRIE CRIMINAL DEFENCE LAWYER
Fraud charges must be taken seriously. If you are facing fraud charges, it is advisable to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer to guide you throughout the case and fight for your interests and rights. When your reputation and personal freedom are at stake, you want an experienced and capable advocate like David Wilcox to accurately identify realistic goals and prepare a defence that can be achieved in a timely and cost-effective manner. You can use our eForm or call us toll-free at 1-855-721-6642 to request your free 30-minute initial consultation with our Barrie criminal defence lawyer. If you need emergency legal services, David’s phone line is available 24 hours a day.