In California or across the United States, you may face charges for fraud related to pyramid-schemes, identify theft, crowdfunding, insurance fraud, fraud offenses involving senior citizens, charity fraud or telemarketing fraud, to name a few.
Fraud accusations should be taken seriously because the penalties of a conviction can be harsher than you might imagine. A criminal record will also bring about a whole other set of consequences, which could make life increasingly difficult long after the immediate sentence or penalties are over.
What constitutes fraud?
Your entire defense might rest on a slight technical difference between what is and is not fraud. For something to be fraud, the following needs to be true:
- Someone suffered a loss: What, if anything, has the alleged victim lost? Does their bank balance support that, or are they bringing the claim because they feel annoyed, upset or foolish but have not actually lost anything?
- This loss resulted from relying on facts you gave them: Someone asked you for an opinion, and you gave it. Is that the only information they looked at, or were you one of several sources they used? It is also crucial to clarify if the information you gave was a verified fact, as opposed to your opinion or a set of data that they interpreted in their own way.
- You knew the facts were false when you gave it: Making a mistake is not fraud. You need to have set out to deceive the person by providing incorrect information and positioning it as legitimate.
Remember, the prosecution needs to show “beyond reasonable doubt” that the above three things were true. Therefore, your defense to fraud charges might be based off of showing one or all of those elements does not hold up to scrutiny. Failing that, you may need to look at how the authorities investigated to see if you can contest it on a technicality. It is critical to have a qualified California state or U.S. criminal defense attorney heading up your defense strategy and looking out for your best interests.