Fraud is a criminal act that is often handled much differently than other criminal investigations. Often a fraud charge will begin with questioning by corporate lawyers, your own employer, or even law enforcement officials.
If you or someone you know has been charged with fraud, now is the time to consult with an experienced Atlantic City fraud defense lawyer.
What is Fraud?
You are probably familiar with the term fraud, however, in the law fraud is when someone acts dishonestly in order to gain some form of advantage over another, which in most cases is a financial advantage. Simply, a fraud is committed when a person makes a false statement or an intent to deceive, that is meant to harm another financially or for other personal gains. In order of the state to convict a person of committing a fraud offense, the prosecution must show that the accused committed the following beyond a reasonable doubt.
- That you misrepresented a material fact
- That you knew or should have known that you were misleading the victim
- That you committed an act or made a statement with the intent of defrauding the victim.
- That the victim reasonably relied on your fraudulent statement;
- The victim suffered actual damages.
A fraud charge can happen to anyone, even if you did not mean to defraud another person, the state or federal government may choose to move forward with their case.
Types of Fraud Crimes
Fraud is generally a blanket term used in the criminal courts to refer to a variety of actions. Fraud can occur in many different ways, including through the mail, through the internet, over the phone, or in person. Some of the most common forms of fraud include:
- Bad Checks, Money Orders, Electronic Funds Transfers (N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5)
- Credit Card Fraud (N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6)
- Health Care Claims Fraud (N.J.S.A. 2C:21-4.3)
- Bank Fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1344)
- Mail Fraud (18 U.S.C. 1341)
- Wire Fraud (18 U.S.C. 1343)
- Internet Fraud
- Insurance Fraud (N.J.S.A. 2C:21-4.6)
- Forgery (N.J.S.A. 2C:21-1)
- Falsifying or Tampering with Records (N.J.S.A. 2C:21-4)
- Motor Vehicle Fraud
- Mortgage Fraud
- Tax Fraud
- Securities Fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1348)
Penalties for Fraud in New Jersey
Fraud is a blanket term, and as noted above there are many different fraud charges the state or federal government may choose to pursue. That means if you are charged with a fraudulent act and are subsequently convicted you can face a variety of penalties including but not limited to:
- Jail time – Like other crimes codified in the New Jersey Criminal Code, many of which are violent crimes, a person who is convicted of fraud can face the possibility of incarceration.
- Large fines – Some of the fines for fraud can be astoundingly high. For example, a person who is charged with and convicted of mail fraud can face a maximum fine of up to one million dollars.
- Probation – A person who is convicted of fraud may be placed on probation in a variety of different forms. This may mean that you are sentenced to house arrest, or are required to regularly meet with a probation officer.
- Restitution – In some cases, a person who is convicted of fraud will be required to make restitution payments to their victims, usually in the form of monetary compensation in the amount that they received.
While these categories above demonstrate some of the consequences of a fraud charge, there are many other collateral consequences of having a conviction for fraud on your record. Fraud charges can be damaging and lead to ruined credit, social stigma, as well as a criminal record. A criminal record may make it hard or impossible for you to receive loans from banks, and can exclude you from certain employment opportunities, or preclude you from applying to schools and other programs.
Get Help from an Atlantic City Fraud Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know has been charged with a fraud offense it is imperative that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. An experienced lawyer can employ a number of defenses to a fraud charge. Some common strategies and defenses include:
Demonstrating that you did not have the specific intent to defraud another. As explained above, an essential element of a fraud charge is for the prosecution to prove that you had the specific intent to defraud another. A misunderstanding or an error in interpreting a contract, oral or otherwise, may have led to seemingly fraudulent behavior.
In bankruptcy fraud charges, it is crucial that the prosecution proves that a material statement was false and was made. However it is common that people will forget a piece of real property that they have a minor interest in, and in these cases, an attorney may be able to demonstrate that you had a lack of intent to defraud the bank, thereby precluding you from being convicted of fraud. A skilled lawyer can exploit an invalid search warrant or show that the police exceeded the limits of the search.
If you or someone you know has been charged with fraud, then you need an experienced criminal defense attorney at your side. If you are convicted of fraud you could be facing years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.