Being charged with fraud in Virginia can be intimidating because a conviction has criminal and financial penalties that would have a significantly negative impact if the accused is convicted of the charges. In addition to the legal ramifications that the accused faces when charged with fraud has a negative social stigma because it is considered a dishonest crime.
The federal government considers a dishonest crime to be those that involve a lack of integrity or a disposition to cheat or act deceitfully. If you have been charged with fraud, contact a Virginia fraud lawyer to protect your interests.
Virginia Code 18.2-6, which explains what constitutes fraud in Virginia and the associated penalties, lists more than 30 acts that could result in fraud charges. It is one of the few offenses that can occur in Virginia, but be prosecuted criminally by the Commonwealth and the federal government. Additionally, there is a higher probability in fraud cases that an individual who is criminally charged with fraud will also be a party in a civil lawsuit for the same act.
If the alleged fraud occurs in Virginia, but was not perpetrated against a federal agency and does not impact anyone outside of the jurisdiction, the accused will be prosecuted by the Commonwealth. If the allegation is that the fraud impacts a federal agency or federal program, exceeded the borders of the Commonwealth, or involves a bank that is federally insured, the case would be prosecuted by the federal government.
An individual may be charged with fraud for impersonating an officer, securities fraud, and making false statements to obtain property or credit. Fraud may also include actions as diverse as advertising a sale as a “going out of business sale” when the business is not closing, removing identification numbers from household appliances, even when the identification is removed by the owner, and summoning an ambulance without a legitimate need. For any of theses various possible crimes, it is important to work with a Virginia fraud attorney.
Fraud charges are classified as misdemeanor and felony offenses; the classification of the offense is dictated by the actual offense.
Impersonating an officer, which is falsely assuming or exercising the powers, duties, and privileges given to a sheriff, police officer, marshal, or other peace officer is a class one misdemeanor, if it is the first offense. It is punishable with up to 12 months in jail, up to a $2,500 fine, or both.
After the first offense, the fraud charge may be upgraded to a class six felony, which has a penalty of at least 12 months, but less than five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. The judge or the jury does have discretion in sentencing for class six felonies, and may sentence someone convicted of this charge with less than one year in jail.
On the other end of the spectrum, a conviction for intentional misrepresentation on mortgage documents may be charged as a felony offense in federal court. The penalties, if convicted, could be a fine of up to $1,000,000 and/or up to 30 years imprisonment making it imperative a fraud attorney in Virginia is contacted.
The seriousness of a fraud charge is evident by the penalties, if convicted. If you have been charged with fraud in Virginia, it is important that you speak with a fraud lawyer in Virginia, who can evaluate your case, guide you through the process, and provide you with the best defense possible against the allegations made.
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