Fraud is a theft-related crime. The legal definition is taking advantage of another person or persons by defrauding them of money, valuable security, property, or service by means of intentional deception for one’s personal gain.
If you are charged with fraud, don’t give up and automatically enter a guilty plea. The consequences may be very serious not only to yourself but also to your family and your future job prospects.
When Can I Be Charged With Fraud?
While fraud charges are usually laid out along with charges of theft, it is more difficult for the Crown Attorney to prove fraud. Fraud can include breach of trust, especially with employers, credit cards, and debit cards. Contractors can be involved in construction fraud. A common charge is defrauding financial institutions and other businesses or misrepresentation of legal documents.
Since it is considered a property offence, it is possible to be accused of multiple counts of alleged fraud, especially if the behaviour occurred over a period of time.
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 of less than $5000, the accused may be guilty of an indictable offence with a maximum imprisonment of up to two years or of a less serious offence punishable on summary conviction. For fraud amounting to a value of more than $5000, the accused may be guilty of an indictable offence 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.
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 payback 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.”
Are There Any Valid Defences for a Charge of Fraud?
There may be a variety of valid defences, according to your particular case and your circumstances. For example, we may be able to argue that there was no intent to defraud. We will need to examine 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 whether you are a Canadian citizen.
If you are faced with a charge of fraud, don’t limit your options. Contact Kruse Law Firm by calling 1-800-699-0806 or filling out our contact form for a free assessment of your case.