While fraud is often referred to as a “white-collar” crime, that does not mean being accused of criminal fraud will not have life-altering repercussions. Depending on how your specific offense is defined by law enforcement officers and court authorities, a single fraud conviction for even a first-time offender could lead to years of state prison time, thousands of dollars in fines, and a permanent black mark on your record.
When you are under investigation for allegations of fraud, and especially if you have already been formally charged, you need to contact an Avalon Park fraud lawyer. A skilled private defense attorney could provide irreplaceable assistance with building the strongest possible defense and ensuring your legal rights are respected throughout the legal process.
In the modern day, law enforcement bodies and criminal courts typically pursue fraud charges under the Florida Communications Fraud Act, which is codified in Florida Statutes § 817.034. Under this section of state law, fraud is broadly defined to mean any “ongoing course of conduct” intended to allow the perpetrator to unlawfully obtain property from someone through deception, false representations, or false pretenses.
There are various types of fraud someone could commit and various entities who could be defrauded through that person’s actions. For the purposes of criminal prosecution, most fraud offenses here are treated as either “communications fraud” or “organized fraud.” Communications fraud entails someone engaging in a fraud scheme which involves the use of the mail system, telephone calls, or any electronic communication service. It is the less severe of the two, as the offense can be prosecuted as either a first-degree misdemeanor or a third-degree felony depending on whether the alleged fraud involved less than or more than $300 of goods or services.
Organized fraud, on the other hand, is treated much more harshly, as it entails someone successfully obtaining goods or services through an intentional fraudulent scheme. As an Avalon Park fraud attorney could explain, this offense can be punishable by anywhere from five to a maximum of 30 years of imprisonment, as well as maximum fines of $5,000 or $10,000, depending on how much the perpetrator made through their scheme.
One important thing to understand about fraud as a criminal offense in Florida is that it must be intentional to qualify as a crime. This means it is sometimes an effective defense against fraud charges to establish that, while someone else did suffer financial loss as a direct result of the defendant’s actions, those actions were not intended to produce fraudulent financial gain for the defendant at the other person’s expense.
Likewise, there must be a “course of conduct” indicating a larger fraudulent scheme for someone to be convicted of fraud, as opposed to a lesser offense like theft based on just one discrete act. The best strategy will vary dramatically from case to case, so it is always worth discussing possible options with a fraud defense lawyer in Avalon Park.
Courts in Florida take fraud allegations seriously and tend pass down severe sanctions on anyone convicted of this offense. On top of that, you may wind up facing prosecution in felony court if you allegedly engaged in fraud across state lines or targeting certain entities—for example, the U.S. Postal Service.
In either scenario, this is not a fight you want to take on alone—and fortunately, you do not have to. Call today to schedule a private consultation with an Avalon Park fraud lawyer from The Umansky Law Firm Criminal Defense & Injury Attorneys.
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