Each year, millions of individuals throughout the United States are unfortunately victimized by fraud. And, as such cases become increasingly complex, the amounts stolen continue to skyrocket. In 2017 alone, 16.8 billion was stolen via fraudulent activity, according to a report from Javelin Strategy & Research.
If you are a victim of fraud, knowing your rights, gathering all necessary information, and building a solid case is crucial to ensuring justice is served. That is why our Raleigh attorneys at Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas are here to help. We have successfully assisted numerous clients over the course of several years in navigating through the challenges of a fraud case and are always available to do the same for you. On the other hand, if you have been accused of fraud, our Raleigh defense attorneys can assist you in building an exceptional defense to minimize the charges.
What is Fraud?
Fraud is defined as the deliberate use of unlawful behavior or deceit by a person or entity to obtain something of value, such as money or property. In such cases, deception to cause financial disadvantage to another is usually included. In order to be classified as fraud, the deceptive conduct must have been intentional or reckless.
Types of Fraud
While there are numerous instances of fraud prevalent in our society, some common examples include:
- Telemarketing scams
- Falsifying legal statements in order to gain benefits from the state or federal government
- Obtaining or distributing a fake passport or driver’s license
- Insurance fraud
- Tax fraud or tax evasion
- Medicare and social security fraud
- Welfare fraud
- Deceit in the process of buying or selling property to acquire unfair financial compensation
- Identity theft
- Credit/debit card fraud
What Legal Action Can Be Taken Against Fraud?
Individuals seeking to take legal action against fraud and potentially recover their lost property or money can turn to litigation. During the fraud case, prosecutors must only prove “preponderance of the evidence” rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt” in order to successfully win their case. Ultimately, this is simply much easier to prove than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. Litigants are also entitled to discovery, which forces the defendant to provide financial records, email messages, and all other evidence needed to build a case. If the trial is won, the judge may order that the property or money stolen be fully or partially recovered, among other ramifications detailed below.
If you are seeking to take legal action after being victimized by fraud, it is best to contact a Raleigh attorney as early as possible to receive assistance with building a solid case. Navigating through all the necessary legal components of a fraud case can be challenging, which is why working with an experienced criminal attorney is crucial to achieving your desired outcomes. Our Raleigh attorneys at Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas have provided assistance with receiving compensation to several individuals, and are experts in this field.
What are the Legal Consequences of Fraud Offenses?
Regardless of the type of fraud that is committed, there are legal ramifications that follow. However, those ramifications vary depending on the specific crime which the accused is charged with. Based on these factors, fraud can either be a felony, civil penalty, or a misdemeanor offense.
Generally, the following result from fraud charges:
- Incarceration. AFraud charge comes the possibility of incarceration. However, sentences vary depending on the specific conviction. A misdemeanor conviction can result in up to a year in the local jail, while a felony conviction can result in several years in prison. Federal charges can result in 10 or more years in federal prison.
- Probation. Depending on the conviction, the court may decide on a probation sentence. While probation does allow the convenience of not having to go to jail or prison, it still significantly limits freedom. Probation generally involves reporting to a probation officer, having and maintaining a job, taking drug tests, and, of course, complying to the law.
- Fines. Fraud charges commonly result in fines which, similar to incarceration, vary in amounts depending on the conviction. Misdemeanor convictions can result in a fine of few thousand dollars or less, while felony convictions can result in a large sum of over $10,000.
- Restitution. In most fraud cases where the person convicted is charged with a civil penalty, they must compensate the victims for any loss they have suffered. These are known as restitution fees.
What Are My Rights If I Am Accused of Fraud?
When any citizen is accused of a crime, the U.S. Constitution grants them basic rights. If an arrest is made, these rights should be read at the time of the arrest.
These basic rights include:
- The right to remain silent. Under the Fifth Amendment, when accused or arrested, you are not obligated to provide any information to the police. This means you are not required to make a statement or prove your innocence.
- The right to an attorney. You have a right to an attorney when accused of any crime. Even if you are not able to afford one, the system is required to provide one for you. This right also allows for your attorney to be present during all official interactions with authorities.
- The right to a fair trial. Under the Sixth Amendment, if you are charged with fraud, your rights guarantee a fair and speedy trial. If the trial is biased or unnecessarily dragged out, your rights have been violated. If you are charged with a serious crime, which is defined as a crime that results in a penalty of at least $500 or six months of jail time, you have the right to a jury trial, meaning a panel of citizens will determine your guilt or innocence so that bias from police officers or other officiators is avoided.
- The right to know the charges. An arrest without first telling the convicted exactly what they are being charged with is prohibited. The only exception to this right is when the crime is obvious or if circumstances make it impossible to inform the convicted of their charges.
What Do I Do If I Am Wrongfully Accused of Fraud?
If you are wrongfully accused of fraud, immediately seek the help of a defense attorney. Refrain from speaking about your case to anyone until you consult with your attorney, as anything you say can be used against you. Your defense attorney should be able to thoroughly analyze your case and develop the best plan of action to prove your innocence beyond a reasonable doubt and ensure a fair trial. Overall, seeking legal counsel is the wisest option possible, as attempting to handle the charges without legal guidance could be detrimental.
Contact Our Raleigh Criminal or Defense Attorneys Today for Assistance with Your Fraud Case
When it comes to fraud cases, regardless of if you are the prosecutor or the defendant, it is essential to have legal guidance to ensure that you achieve the best possible results. Our Raleigh criminal lawyers and defense attorneys are here to provide exceptional assistance. We will aggressively prosecute on your behalf in court to obtain your desired objectives or also aggressively defend you to minimize any charges.
Schedule a consultation regarding your fraud case with our Raleigh criminal law attorneys today by calling (919) 615-2473 or by completing our online contact form.
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