Our firm represents a lot of people who have been charged with small scale or large scale fraud. Now, there’s fraud, under $5000, and there’s fraud over $5000, under the Criminal Code. By the way, the maximum penalty for, if the Crown elects by indictment, for fraud over $5000, is a whopping 14 years in prison. So it’s a very serious crime. Now the classic definition of fraud is to deprive by deceitful or dishonest means. So in other words, deprive someone of something through deceit or dishonesty. It could be money for example, it could be a good that they own.
A lot of frauds, frankly over the years that we represented, that happen across the province that are employee frauds. The classic employee fraud case I suppose is the book keeper, the one who has their financial hands on the financial where with all of the company. So they have an opportunity to commit frauds. We’ve won a lot of those cases; they are not necessarily easy to prove and there’s often a complicated paper trail. You have witnesses, to certain things and maybe circumstances, maybe exclusive opportunity, it’s hard to prove and bring it all together. The trials can be very complicated. I’ve seen trials go on for weeks for some matters which are more complicated than others. On the other hand, and we’ve won those cases, on the other hand someone’s caught red handed; the paper trail is very clear; it’s the book keeper or someone else within the firm. Now what’s going to happen, for that person? Well, this is an employee breach of trust, essentially and the Ontario Court of Appeal, has basically said that’s a very serious crime. The typical penalties for that are a lot of jail time, unfortunately, for people who have been caught for that crime and I say unfortunately by the way.
Can we avoid a jail term for employee breach of fraud? It really depends; it has to be a smaller scale fraud, perhaps, you know, not hundreds of thousands of dollars. We have avoided jail, on lesser cases, especially under $5000, sometimes over $5000, depending on the factual background. If the person is able to pay restitution, that goes a long way to avoiding a jail term by the way. If they can’t pay restitution up front, there’s going to be a restitution order at the end. But the rule of thumb is you start with a jail term. Can you convince the judge that there should be no jail term? Is the employee going to get a conditional discharge ever on a breach trust case involving fraud? I’ve seen it, I mean, I’m also, we’ve even done it at our firm, but I hesitate to say that’s possible; it’s a very narrow circumstance, as it was in the case that we did. There’s all types of frauds and they range from more minor, you know dollar amounts to serious. You could be facing multi years in jail or no time or even a conditional discharge for small scale fraud. So it’s all over the map.
It’s a very serious crime. We are very experienced in dealing with it. There’s a lot of minutia to running the trial. You have to have an eye for detail and you have to have a clever financial eye. What is the crown missing? You’re essentially, the Crown is trying to put a puzzle together. You’re trying to take out one piece; they can’t connect the dots and guess what? You win. So you need to have a financial background with it. You often need to have expert witnesses and accountants to testify in these types of cases. Fraud is considered to be a very serious crime in Ontario. Our firm defends a lot of fraud cases. This is what we do for a living 24/7. Defending fraud cases is one of the criminal practice areas that we focus on.Absolutely, they can.