Fraud is an attempt to secure something of value through misinformation or deceit. There are many different forms of fraud, and depending on the actions alleged, prosecutors might charge it as a misdemeanor or a felony. Typically, a fraud charge is just one of several charges that prosecutors file together. Fraud is a type of theft. Apart from the criminal penalties, a conviction could impact your life in various ways. It could affect your ability to find a job, get a professional license, receive government benefits, obtain a bank loan, or rent an apartment. If you are under investigation for this crime, retain a NoVa fraud lawyer as soon as possible. You owe it to yourself to present the most vigorous defense available.
Although many fraud crimes involve obtaining financial benefits by deceit, any situation in which a party uses false pretenses to gain a benefit could lead to a fraud charge. For example, a doctor who claims to be Board Certified but is not, could be charged with fraud. A person who wears a military medal or claims a military honor they did not earn could face fraud charges. Impersonating a police officer may lead to this type of offense. Prosecutors most often bring fraud charges when the accused allegedly sought a financial benefit through deception. Virginia Code §18.2, Chapter 6 describes all the various actions that could constitute criminal fraud. These include, but are not limited to:
The value of the stolen property the accused allegedly sought determines whether a prosecutor brings a felony or misdemeanor charge. Other factors that influence the charges include the accused’s criminal history, the duration of the fraudulent enterprise, and the victim’s identity. If the accused allegedly defrauded the government or a vulnerable individual, such as an elderly or disabled person, felony charges are more likely. All fraud charges carry potential jail time. It is crucial for anyone accused of fraud in NoVa to have a capable criminal attorney representing them.
The specifics of a defense will vary according to the type of fraud charge the accused faces and the facts prosecutors allege to support the charges. In all criminal cases, prosecutors must prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt and the jury verdict must be unanimous. If one juror is not convinced by the prosecutor’s evidence, the accused cannot be convicted.
Intent is an essential element of any fraud, and prosecutors must present evidence that demonstrates that the accused knowingly used deception to gain a benefit. Depending on the circumstances, it could be possible to challenge the adequacy of the prosecutor’s proof of intent. Unless the prosecutor has compelling evidence that the accused knew they were making false statements to gain a benefit they had no legal right to obtain, an assertion that the accused lacked intent to defraud could raise reasonable doubt in the mind of at least one juror. A NoVa attorney could help a defendant prepare a defense for their fraud charges.
A fraud conviction could cause a lifetime of lost opportunities. With so much to lose, you deserve an aggressive defense that forces the prosecution to prove every element of the charge against you. The earlier in the process you retain a capable NoVa fraud lawyer, the more effectively they will be able to represent you. Schedule a consultation today to learn how we could help you with your case.
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