Criminal fraud can take many forms, but each offense can incur serious penalties under state law, including costly fines and long prison terms. If you are facing allegations of this crime, it may be wise to engage qualified legal counsel immediately. Retaining a DeKalb County fraud lawyer could give you the best opportunity to minimize the harsh penalties and allow you to move forward without this offense on your record.
State law defines fraud as any action utilizing deception and untruthfulness to secure something of value from another person. This general definition encompasses a vast number of criminal enterprises, including:
The list of fraudulent, criminal behavior is long, and in some situations, a person may not even realize that their actions constitute fraud. Each discrete crime has its own essential elements of proof and carries specific sentencing guidelines. An attorney familiar with DeKalb County fraud cases could help those accused navigate the system and achieve the best outcome.
Some fraudulent behaviors constitute misdemeanors while others are classified as felonies. A judge will base a sentence on the nature of the conviction and the penalties outlined in the state’s relevant statutory section. Different sentencing guidelines apply to individuals found guilty of falsely reporting a crime versus those convicted of a phishing scam. However, fines and imprisonment attach to almost all illegal, deceptive behavior.
For example, the crime of depositing fake checks has a range of punishments. Under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 16-9-21, those convicted may owe up to $5,000 in fines and serve one to five years in prison. The sentence’s severity correlates with the amount of the falsified check.
Some fraud offenses have harsher penalties, such as identity fraud. For first-time offenders, O.C.G.A. § 16-9-126 imposes fines of up to $100,000 and jail terms of up to 10 years. Second-time offenders could owe $250,000 and serve 15 years in prison. In some fraud cases, the court may also order that the defendant pay restitution. O.C.G.A. § 16-9-126(c) allows for this additional requirement in identity fraud cases.
A DeKalb County fraud attorney is familiar with the various code sections and could use this knowledge to help a defendant evaluate their options and best respond to the charges levied.
Every fraud case depends on the type of fraud alleged, the facts and evidence presented in court, and the defenses available. Three common defense strategies to fraud charges are insufficient evidence, consent, and lack of intent.
The defense of insufficient evidence relies on the argument that the prosecution lacks the necessary proof to establish their case that the defendant committed the crime. The defense of consent would be the argument that the defendant had the property owner’s permission to use or access the personal information and they did not commit a crime. Similarly, arguing a lack of intent would involve presenting evidence that the defendant did not know they had engaged in fraudulent activity.
A skilled lawyer who frequently represents people accused of fraud in DeKalb County could understand how to apply these arguments to create an effective defense.
Fraud charges can put your future in jeopardy, so it is important to have the best representation possible to fight against your charges. A DeKalb County fraud lawyer could offer valuable peace of mind while educating you about this area of law and guiding you through your case. Call today to set up an initial consultation and get started on your defense.