In California, Fraud is a type of crime that involves using dishonesty to take money or property from someone else for your own benefit. In California, there are many types of fraud that are specifically defined and prohibited by the state’s Penal Code, such as writing bad checks or forging signatures on legal papers. If you are accused of fraud, it is important to seek the help of a fraud lawyer as soon as possible.
Commonly Charged Fraud Offenses in Los Angeles County
The state of California recognizes a variety of fraud crimes, which can have severe legal consequences. The list includes:
- Bank Fraud (Penal Code 532a(1): Bank fraud can encompass various scenarios, such as check kiting or “booster checks,” where an individual writes a bad check to inflate the credit limit of a credit card they intend to misuse. Additionally, bank fraud can involve actions such as phishing, credit card fraud, and accounting fraud.
- Identity Theft (Penal Code 530.5): This crime involves stealing someone’s personal identifying information, such as their name, Social Security number, or driver’s license number, with the intention of using it for fraudulent purposes.
- Credit Card Fraud (California Penal Code 484e PC, 484f PC, 484g PC, 484h PC, 484i PC and 484j PC): This crime involves using a credit card or credit card information without the owner’s consent to make purchases, withdraw cash, or obtain other financial benefits.
- Insurance Fraud (Penal Code 550): This crime involves making false insurance claims or lying on insurance applications to obtain benefits or compensation to which one is not entitled.
- Healthcare Fraud (Penal Code 550): This crime involves defrauding a healthcare program or provider, such as Medicare or Medicaid, by submitting false claims or billing for services not provided.
- Real Estate Fraud (Penal Code 487): This crime involves using deception to gain ownership or control over real estate, such as by using a fake identity to obtain a mortgage or forging documents to transfer property.
- Investment Fraud (Penal Code 487): This crime involves using false or misleading information to induce someone to invest in a fraudulent scheme, such as a Ponzi scheme or pyramid scheme.
- Embezzlement (Penal Code 503): This crime involves stealing money or property that has been entrusted to one’s care, such as by an employer or client.
- Ponzi Schemes (Penal Code 487): This crime involves using money from new investors to pay returns to earlier investors, rather than generating legitimate profits.
- Internet Fraud (Penal Code 484i): This crime involves using the internet to deceive or defraud someone, such as by sending phishing emails or setting up fake websites to obtain personal information.
- Mail Fraud (Penal Code 1341): This crime involves using the mail to carry out a fraudulent scheme, such as by sending fake invoices or soliciting donations for a fake charity.
- Wire Fraud (Penal Code 1343): This crime involves using electronic communications, such as phone calls or emails, to carry out a fraudulent scheme, such as by wiring funds to a fake account.
- Securities Fraud (Penal Code 25540): This crime involves using false or misleading information to induce someone to buy or sell securities, such as stocks or bonds.
- Tax Fraud (Penal Code 19705): This crime involves cheating on taxes or filing false tax returns to obtain a refund to which one is not entitled.
- Check Fraud (Penal Code 476): This crime involves altering, forging, or passing a check that one is not authorized to use, such as by stealing a checkbook or writing a check on a closed account.
- Forgery (Penal Code 470): This crime involves creating or using false documents or signatures with the intent to deceive, such as by forging a signature on a contract or a will.
- Welfare Fraud (Penal Code 10980 PC): California Penal Code 10980 PC refers to the crime of welfare fraud, which is the act of intentionally making false statements or failing to disclose information to obtain public assistance benefits that one is not entitled to receive. This can include fraudulently obtaining benefits like food stamps, Medicaid, or cash assistance. Welfare fraud is a serious offense in California and can result in criminal charges and penalties, including fines, restitution, probation, and even jail time depending on the severity of the offense.
Potential Penalties for Fraud Crime California
Fraud crimes in California can vary from misdemeanors to felonies, with some offenses being classified as “wobblers” that can be charged as either. The severity of the charge depends on various factors, such as the specific statute violated, the details of the case, and the individual’s criminal history.
In cases where the fraud is charged like theft, the level of the charge is determined by the value of the property or money obtained. Misdemeanor fraud offenses can lead to up to one year in jail, a $1,000 fine, and other penalties like community service, probation, and restitution.
Felony fraud offenses carry much harsher penalties, including prison time and fines up to $10,000 or more. The prison sentence may vary based on the statute and can be three, four, or five years. As with misdemeanors, those charged with felonies may face other consequences, including probation and restitution.
Additional Consequences of a Fraud Conviction
When someone is convicted of a fraud crime, the consequences can be far-reaching and long-lasting. Apart from the penalties imposed by the criminal justice system, a fraud conviction can cause damage to your reputation and make it difficult to find employment, housing, or obtain credit. The conviction may also affect your ability to obtain professional licenses or work in certain positions that involve finances. This can limit career options and make it challenging to earn a living.
A fraud conviction can also have negative effects on education opportunities, such as getting into college or obtaining financial aid. Additionally, a fraud conviction can impact immigration status and child custody situations. If convicted of a felony, there may be limitations on your right to own or possess firearms.
Legal Defenses Against Fraud Charges:
There are various defenses that a defendant charged with a fraud crime can use in California. Some common defenses include:
- Lack of intent: Fraud requires the intent to deceive or defraud. If the defendant can show that they did not have the intent to deceive or defraud, it may be a valid defense.
- Mistaken identity: In some cases, the defendant may argue that they were mistaken for someone else who committed the fraud.
- Lack of knowledge: If the defendant can prove that they had no knowledge of the fraudulent activity, they may be able to use this as a defense.
- Consent: If the alleged victim consented to the transaction or activity, it may not be considered fraudulent.
- Entrapment: If law enforcement officials induced the defendant to commit the fraudulent activity, it may be considered entrapment and can be used as a defense.
- Insufficient evidence: If the prosecution cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the fraud, the defendant may be acquitted.
Los Angeles Fraud Defense Attorney Can Help
If you are facing fraud charges in California, it is important to seek the assistance of an experienced fraud defense attorney, Cyrus Tabibnia, who can guide you through the legal process. From the initial investigation to trial, he can protect your rights and interests at every stage. During the investigation, he can prevent you from making any self-incriminating statements and ensure that law enforcement does not violate your constitutional rights. If you are charged by prosecutors or indicted by a grand jury, your attorney may explore options to have the charges reduced or dropped altogether. They may also file motions to suppress evidence, challenge the validity of the charges, or negotiate a plea bargain to minimize the consequences of a conviction. Overall, having a skilled and knowledgeable attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.