Understanding Fraud Charges

September 14, 2016

Being convicted for committing fraud can have serious, life-altering consequences. The punishments associated with a fraud conviction can include substantial financial penalties, jail time, and probation. Under California law, fraud encompasses several different offenses. It is generally considered to be a “white collar crime” involving individuals working at financial institutions, insurance companies, and other business entities. An act of fraud is usually considered to have occurred if you allegedly received an unfair benefit and/ or harmed another person by causing them loss monetarily or in some other fashion.


Types of Fraud

  • Identity theft: This form of fraud typically involves gaining possession of a third party’s social security number, driver’s license, and/or bank account. It can also include forging or possessing a fraudulent public seal.
  • Credit card fraud: This form of fraud is similar to identity theft in that the crime involves gaining possession of a third party’s credit card and purchasing items or services with the card as though you are the card’s owner.
  • Insurance Fraud: This form of fraud involves filing a false claim with your automobile insurance company, healthcare company, Medicaid (aka Medi-Cal in California), Medicare, worker’s compensation, and state disability insurance program.


Serious Penalties for Fraud Conviction

Under California law, fraud crimes are known as wobbler offenses. This legal term means that the government has the discretionary authority to charge you for a felony or misdemeanor. However, other forms of fraud require you to be charged with a felony, meaning a longer prison sentence. Along with a jail time, you will likely face a large monetary penalty and have your assets frozen including any checking and/or savings accounts, property, vehicles, and personal items such as televisions, laptops, jewelry.


How to Fight Fraud Charges

You do not have to simply accept the charges filed against you. As a citizen, you have certain inalienable rights and the burden is on the government to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you are guilty of those charges. This is why you should speak with an experienced Los Angeles fraud defense attorney.


Multiple defenses can be utilized such as the lack of intent to commit fraud. There must be evidence of intent for you to be convicted of fraud. That means if defrauding a third party was not your objective, you can raise lack of intent as a viable defense. For example, if you are charged with insurance fraud, but you reasonably believed that your claim was valid, you can contest the insurance fraud charge.


Another defense is mistaken identity. In some cases, you may been mistakenly identified by an eye-witness or you may have been mistakenly identified by assumption. For example, if you work as an accountant for a financial institution and are charged with theft for funds that you did not take, it may be assumed you committed fraud merely because of your work in that department.


Take Action Today – Speak to an Experience Los Angeles Fraud Defense Attorney

At The Law Office of Peter Berlin, we work tirelessly to represent people who are facing serious criminal charges, including fraud. Our legal team understands that without your freedom, nothing else matters, and we will fight to protect you rights. If you or a loved one was charged with fraud, contact our firm for a free, comprehensive consultation. We are available 24/7. Call us at  310-289-5418.