Fraud Defense in Los Angeles

Are you facing fraud charges?

Fraud is described as the intentional deception that is performed for the purpose of personal gain, usually financial gain that causes damage or loss to another individual or company. In order to be convicted of this crime, there must be significant proof that fraud was committed with purposeful intent.

This is a complicated issue that requires a strong team of fraud defense lawyers with skills in investigation and the ability to discover evidence. It is important to enlist the help of a team of attorneys who can look at the situation from different angles. Our firm works as a team, and through our differing perspectives, we can observe details that may solidify your case.

Types of Fraud

Laws governing the crime of fraud are covered under California Penal Code §484. Under this code, every individual who shall "fraudulently appropriate property" will be guilty of this crime. There are many different types of fraud that can create complex issues that are difficult to defend.

Types of fraud include:

  • Insurance fraud
  • Bankruptcy fraud
  • Tax evasion
  • Business fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Credit card fraud
  • Investment fraud
  • Wire fraud
  • Bank fraud
  • Phishing scams
  • Healthcare fraud
  • Mortgage fraud
  • Employment fraud

Penalties for fraud are determined by many factors, including the charge and how the actions are classified. There must be sufficient proof of the fraud. Felony charges typically carry harsher punishments than those charged as misdemeanors. Those convicted of fraud should reasonably expect to compensate for damages. Jail times and heavy fines are also potential forms of punishment.

What are the Penalties for Fraud in California? 

In California, the penalties for fraud can vary depending on the specific type of fraud committed and the value of the property or assets involved. Here are some common types of fraud and their potential penalties:

  • Insurance Fraud: Insurance fraud involves making false claims or providing misleading information to an insurance company for financial gain. Penalties for insurance fraud can include fines and imprisonment, and severity depends on the value of the fraudulent claims.
  • Bankruptcy Fraud: Bankruptcy fraud involves intentionally providing false information or engaging in deceptive practices during bankruptcy. Penalties for bankruptcy fraud can include fines and imprisonment. Under federal law, bankruptcy fraud can be charged as a federal offense, and if convicted, individuals may face up to five years in prison and significant fines.
  • Tax Evasion: Tax evasion involves intentionally evading the payment of taxes owed to the government. In California, as well as under federal law, tax evasion is a serious offense. Penalties can include substantial fines and imprisonment. The severity of penalties depends on the amount of taxes evaded, the degree of deception, and other factors. Under federal law, tax evasion can lead to up to five years in prison and significant fines.
  • Business Fraud: Business fraud can encompass a range of deceptive practices committed by individuals or entities in the business context. This might include fraudulent financial reporting, misleading investors, or misrepresenting business assets. Penalties for business fraud can consist of fines and imprisonment. The severity of penalties often depends on the financial losses victims suffer, the fraud's scale, and other relevant factors.
  • Identity Theft: This involves stealing someone's personal information (like Social Security numbers, bank details) to impersonate them for financial gain. In California, identity theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances. Misdemeanor penalties may include up to one year in county jail and fines, while felony charges can result in several years in state prison and higher fines.
  • Credit Card Fraud: Unauthorized use of someone's credit card information to make purchases or withdraw funds. The penalties for credit card fraud can vary based on the amount of money involved and whether the offense is charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Penalties can range from probation and fines to several years in prison.
  • Investment Fraud: Deceptive practices in the financial markets, including Ponzi schemes or misleading investment opportunities promising high returns. Penalties for investment fraud can be severe, including lengthy prison sentences, particularly if it involves a substantial amount of money and is categorized as a white-collar crime.
  • Wire Fraud: Involves the use of electronic communications, such as emails or phone calls, to deceive individuals or organizations for financial gain. Wire fraud penalties can include fines and imprisonment for up to 20 years if convicted.
  • Bank Fraud: Unauthorized or deceitful activity involving banking transactions, such as forging checks, altering documents, or unauthorized fund transfers. Depending on the severity and scale of the fraud, penalties can range from fines and probation to several years in prison.
  • Phishing Scams: Sending fraudulent emails or messages pretending to be from reputable companies to trick individuals into revealing personal information like passwords or financial details. Phishing scams can result in various penalties, including imprisonment and fines, particularly if significant financial losses are involved.
  • Healthcare Fraud: Billing for unnecessary medical services, falsifying medical records, or overcharging for services or products within the healthcare industry. Healthcare fraud penalties in California may include imprisonment and substantial fines, especially if it involves defrauding government healthcare programs like Medicare or Medicaid.
  • Mortgage Fraud: Providing false information on a mortgage application, misrepresenting financial situations to obtain a mortgage, or involvement in foreclosure rescue schemes. Penalties for mortgage fraud can include imprisonment for several years and significant fines.
  • Employment Fraud: Misrepresenting facts on a resume or during a job interview to gain employment, or fraudulent job schemes where individuals are tricked into working for no pay or promise of payment. Depending on the nature and scale of the fraud, penalties may range from fines to imprisonment.

Penalties can vary widely based on factors such as the defendant's criminal history, the degree of premeditation, aggravating factors, and more. 

Fraud Defense

Legal defenses against fraud charges can vary based on the specifics of each case, but here are some common defenses that might be used:

  • Lack of Intent: Fraud typically requires intent to deceive or defraud. If the defendant can demonstrate that there was no intention to deceive or commit fraud, it can serve as a defense.
  • Mistake or Lack of Knowledge: If the defendant can show that they were unaware of the false information or unaware that their actions could be considered fraudulent, it might serve as a defense.
  • Lack of Evidence: Challenging the evidence presented against the defendant. This could involve proving that the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that fraud occurred.
  • Duress or Coercion: If the defendant can show that they were forced or coerced into committing the fraudulent act, it might serve as a defense.
  • Entrapment: If law enforcement induced the defendant to commit fraud that they otherwise would not have committed, it could be a defense.
  • Statute of Limitations: If the prosecution filed charges after the statute of limitations expired, the defendant can argue that the case should be dismissed.
  • Good Faith: If the defendant believed in good faith that their actions were legal or had a reasonable belief in the truth of the information provided, it might be a defense against fraud charges.
  • Consent: If the alleged victim consented to the actions that are now being considered fraudulent, it might serve as a defense in certain cases.
  • Insufficiency of Evidence: Showing that the evidence presented by the prosecution is insufficient to prove the elements of fraud beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Alibi: Providing evidence that the defendant was not present or involved in the fraudulent activity at the time it occurred.

If you are facing criminal charges, it is important to involve a knowledgeable lawyer to discuss the possible penalties you can be in danger of receiving. If you are facing fraud charges, it is vital that you speak with a lawyer from our firm who has formidable negotiation skills and is prepared to strive for the best outcome of the situation.

Contact one of our Los Angeles fraud defense lawyers from Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners today for further assistance.

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