Fraud is somewhat related to theft. Fraud is to take advantage of another person or persons by defrauding them of money or valuable security, property or service, by means of intentional deception for one’s personal gain. While fraud charges are usually laid out along with charges of theft, it is usually difficult for the Crown Attorney to prove fraud. Fraud can include the breach of trust, especially with employers, credit cards and debit cards, as well as construction fraud with contractors, the defrauding of financial institutions and other business or misrepresentation of legal documents.
Since it is considered a property offense, it is possible to be accused of multiple counts of alleged fraud, especially if the behavior occurred over a period of time.
Once the charge of fraud has been started, your trial will still proceed even if you pay back or replace the amount or item that you have allegedly stolen. Doing so won’t drop your charges. It will be up to the Crown Attorney to decide your fate. There will be some instances, though, where you can use the pay back as a sort of bargaining tool, if the case against you is not too strong. It can also be used as a mitigating factor, and may even result in a lower penalty. Sometimes, for less serious cases, charges can even be dropped if the accused admits responsibility and enters a program of “alternative measures.”
If you are faced with a charge of fraud, don’t limit your options. We can help you win your case through a variety of valid defenses, according to your particular case and your circumstances. For example, we may be able to argue that there was no intent to defraud. Don’t give up and automatically enter a guilty plea to a charge of fraud. The consequences may be very serious not only to yourself, but also to your family and your future job prospects.
Depending on whether the item or amount allegedly defrauded had a value of over or under $5000, there will be different sentences for each situation. For fraud amounting to a value less than $5000, the accused may be guilty of an indictable offense with a maximum imprisonment of up to two years, or of a less serious offense punishable on summary conviction. For fraud amounting to a value more than $5000, the accused may be guilty of an indictable offense with a maximum imprisonment of up to fourteen years. That’s why it is important to get a skilled lawyer to counsel you when faced with a charge of fraud.
When consulting with a criminal lawyer, it is important to be prepared to answer a number of questions, such as the circumstances of the charges, the value of the item that was allegedly defrauded, the strength of the case and the presence (or absence) of witnesses, any statements that you may have released and also if you are a Canadian citizen.