Vista Criminal Attorney Law Firm is an outstanding criminal defense law firm in Vista, California. We have reputable attorneys who are well-versed with all fraud crimes and hence, can handle any fraud related crimes. Successfully fighting charges associated with fraud requires expertise in navigating through the provisions of each fraud statute and a broad understanding of criminal law in California. When accused of engaging in fraud, our defense attorneys will help defend against any claims brought forth by a prosecutor.

Legal Definition of Fraud Crime

A fraud crime is any deceitful representation of facts either through words, conduct, or false and misleading information. It can also be viewed as an act of concealment of the reality in which one fails to disclose the facts about something or a situation. It can also be described as any attempt by an individual to secure, out of unfairness, any persons belonging. California fraud crime laws accuse an individual of committing an offense if he or she is involved in any act that in a way, leads to unfair and underserved benefit for himself or herself causing harm to the other person. The perpetrators of fraudulent acts are most often driven by motives of self-financial gains or the need to escape criminal accountability.

What Type of Crime is Fraud?

A great deal of fraudulent crimes are viewed by the California laws as wobbler hence they can be treated as either felony or misdemeanor depending on the nature of the fraud and the underlying criminal history of the defendant. However, there are some fraud crimes that usually fall under felony crime automatically. For a fraud to qualify as an act of crime, it must portray some characteristics which may include but not limited to:

Presence of misrepresentation of facts in which the reality about something is concealed, and the person presenting this false information must be aware of his or her misrepresentation; The person receiving the information must be unaware of the false information and hence relies on the given facts; The act must also result in the injury or financial losses to the person who relies or believes on the given information.

Types of California Fraud Crimes

California law recognizes various types of fraud offenses. The penalties for each of the crime category differs in terms of severity of fines and the length of jail terms.

1. Insurance Fraud Crime

This crime is committed when an individual tries to get or gain access to any financial benefit related to payments made to insurance or assurance made by another person which are not entitled to him or her. Some of the insurance fraud crimes include:

Health Care Insurance Fraud: This fraudulent act of crime is notably experienced in California hospitals and mostly involve medical practitioners and any personnel in medical departments. While supplying medical equipment, some individuals may take some of the commodities for personal uses such as drugs. While carrying out daily medical activities, some personnel may commit some fraudulent acts which may include overcharging of medical services and drugs or selling of drugs intended to be given for free. In some cases, medical practitioners are convinced to offer faster medical attention to a specific individual with a promise of a reward. Also, some doctors while procuring their patient, input a higher rate or price ending up benefiting from the extra income. All these are examples of health care insurance frauds.

Unemployment Insurance Fraud: The California law demands that nobody should in any way attempt to alter (by way of increasing, reducing or even denying) another person’s benefits gain from insurance cover. While receiving insurance benefits, one is expected to collect gains from one state and as such, if one is discovered to access benefits from two or more states, he or she is seen to have committed unemployment fraud crime. Similarly, fraud crime can be committed if one presents false information pertaining to their activity researching work with an aim of increasing chances of employment. In addition, giving the wrong reason as to why an employee has been stopped from working, can also be viewed as a fraud crime.

Welfare Fraud Crimes: This crime is committed when one tries, in any way, to reap or gain welfare benefits which are not entitled to him or her. It can be committed by an individual who attempts to receive or secure some fraudulent benefits or internally by an individual employee tied to a government agency who, against the law, attempts to distribute welfare services to those dear to him or her and tries to collect from the customers for self-benefit.

Under welfare and institutions code 10980, one commits a welfare fraud if he or she (in any way) tries or applies for welfare benefits using different names with an aim of gaining more. In this sense, it is fraudulent because if it succeeds, some other people will have to suffer; also, a person commits welfare fraud crime if he or she intentionally supply or receive false information with a view of benefitting from the underserved welfare benefits. For example, an individual in charge of information department may quote a small figure of individuals to benefit from a given welfare scheme so that at the end, he or she may benefit from the remaining slot. In addition, one is seen to have committed the offense If he or she intentionally provides or receives false information with a view of receiving compensation claims of another worker. It is classified as felony crime and punishable by the way of fines.

2. Real Estate and Mortgage Fraud Crimes

The offense is committed when an individual falsely represents himself or herself to be connected to a percentage of a transaction involving real estate. In this case, the individual in question has no ownership or a share in the transacted property but presents himself or herself as having a portion.

Mortgage and real estate crime fraud may be committed in several ways. Some of these ways include:

Foreclosure Fraud: This crime is committed when a consultant participates in receiving or charging benefits before extending the service he or she had earlier agreed with the owner of the home in question. It can also be committed when the consultant overcharges or collects fees other than the amount agreed upon, compelling the owner to sign or endorse an illegal transaction. In these cases, the consultant assumes power of attorney, but engages in monetary or material transactions in connection to the mortgage or real estate without disclosing it to the home owner.

When charged over foreclosure fraud crime, one can seek a legal attorney to defend them through various means such as; the accused had no intention to engage fraudulently but rather, was trying to help the purported home owner to avoid any possible closure that turned unsuccessful. In some cases, evidences pointing out that the accused engaged or was attempting to engage in fraudulent actions may aid the defending side. In such circumstances, the attorney pleads guilty and request for a farer charge.

California law under civil code 2945 view foreclosure fraud crime as a wobbler case and hence the accused, depending on the facts available and criminal history, he or she may be charged a felony or misdemeanor in a foreclosure fraud crime. When charged of a felony, the California court of law may subject the accused to imprisonment of up to 16 months or fine amounting to 10,000 dollars. Otherwise, if convicted of misdemeanor foreclosure fraud, the fine charged remains the same but the jail term is reduced to one year. The law, in addition, may require that the accused pay the victims restitution.

Rent Skimming Fraud Crime: This sort of crime is committed when one rents out the property which he or she has no legal ownership. It can also be committed when an individual put into use the rental proceeds of a bought property without first applying the money to the mortgage.

Unlike other mortgage frauds, rent skimming is lighter offense punishable only by fines. However, if it is established that an individual has committed five or more crimes of such type within a specific location during a given period of time, he or she may face heavier charges.

Forging Fraud Crime: When an individual knowingly engages in changing or altering a document with a sole reason of personal gain, he or she is said to have forged under California law. It is committed when one files a forged deed, try to register, or record a forged deed.

An individual accused of a forging fraud crime is likely to face 16 months to 3 years imprisonment in a state prison. He or she may also be made to pay a fine of up to 10000 dollars. In addition, ones’ immigration ability may be negatively affected especially if the case involved false filling

Are There Any Legal Defense for an Individual Accused of a Forging Fraud Crime?

Yes, there exist a variety of legal defenses in which one can defend himself or herself whenever faced with a forging fraud crime with the help of a qualified attorney. Some of these defenses may include arguing that the accused had a consent to file a forged deed from relevant authorities. In some cases, one can argue that he or she was unaware that the document was forged and hence is innocent. In addition, whenever possible, the accused can claim false accusation.

3. California Financial Fraud

Some fraud offenses are catered under this category. Some of them include

a) Check Fraud

A check fraud offense is committed when one uses or makes an attempt to use or possess a check with the intention of defrauding the final recipient while claiming the genuineness of the document. It may involve actions like forging of the name of the person paying the amount presented in the document and ultimately producing a new check. California court of law considers a check fraud offense as wobbler case which either a misdemeanor or felony. If charged under misdemeanor, one is likely to be imprisoned for a period not less than one year in a county-based jail with a fine of up to 1000 dollars. However, if accused of the felony charge, one is likely to face harsher penalties which may include 16 months to three years imprisonment in county prison and a hiked fine amounting to 10,000 dollars.

Defenses for Check Fraud Crime

There exist various defenses which an individual with the help of a qualified attorney, can defend himself or herself against check fraud crimes. This defense may include:

  • Consent under this defense, one can argue that he or she had prior authorization from the check owner to either perform the alteration or to possess the document
  • There was no intention to commit the fraud. In this case, an individual can argue that, he or she had no prior intention to participate in any fraudulent activity and that it may have happened by mistake
  • False allegation. Sometimes, the accused may claim not to have engaged in criminal activity or alteration of the check and hence was falsely accused. On this ground, the law unless otherwise, has no legal mandate to charge.

b) Credit Card Fraud

This crime relates to any unauthorized access to credit cards, debit cards or the information contained in the documents with the intention of deceiving the owner or an entity in a manner that in a way, may result to financial loss by those parties while in return, you benefit.

The Common Penalties for Credit Card Fraud

Based on the degree of fraud and the circumstances, the California court of law imposes different types of charges on credit card fraud crime. The most common categories under which most of the fraud charges fall into are:

Petty theft. If a credit card fraud crime is charged under this category, it is viewed as a misdemeanor and hence punishable by up to 6 months imprisonment in the county jail or may attract a fine of not less than 1000 dollars. It occurs when the amount of money stolen is 950 dollars or its equivalent property value.

Grand theft. If the credit card fraud is classified under grand theft, the case is charged as a

felony and is punishable by up to 16 months imprisonment in the county jail and a hiked amount of fine of 10000 dollars.

Forgery: like grand theft, a card fraud crime classified as forgery is felonious and hence subjecting an individual to a 16 moths’ jail term in a county jail or a fine of not less than 10000 dollars. 

Are There Defenses Against Credit Card Fraud?

There exist a variety of defenses which the accused credit card fraud perpetrator with the help of a highly skilled attorney can defend himself or herself. These may include:

  • Insufficient evidence: the accused can claim that the information presented that points him or her as fraudulent is insufficient and hence do not justify the accusation.
  • One can also argue that he or she never intended to commit any form of fraud and hence is innocent.
  • Mistaken identity: sometimes, the accused may claim that he or she is not the one who committed the crime but rather, a mistaken identity.

4. Securities Fraud Crimes

This type of fraud crime is sometimes called stock or investment fraud. It is committed mostly by investors through the making of decisions while using false or wrong information. Such crimes may result in perpetrators stealing from the companies they serve, fellow investors or ultimate alteration of the companies’ financial figures. One can be accused of security fraud if it is ascertained that he or she participated in the selling of unqualified securities. In addition, sold securities that do not meet the qualification terms, portrayed a misleading behavior during the course of the purchase or sale of the securities, gave false or misleading statement pertaining to the sale of the securities, or acted as an insider in the course of trade.

Penalties for Security Fraud

California law views security fraud as wobbler implying that one can be accused of either misdemeanor or felony case. However, huge and harsh penalties apply to any perpetrator of security fraud in California. This fine may be up to 10000 dollars and or 16 months to three years in county jail.

Can I Defend Myself Legally Against Security Fraud Charge?

Yes, there exist some defenses under which an individual accused of security fraud can use. The most effective however, is lack of intent where you can claim that you had no intention to participate in a fraudulent act. 

Find a Vista Criminal Law Firm Attorney Specializing in Fraud Crimes Near Me

Fraud crimes in California have risen over the past few decades, and their penalties are becoming harsher. When faced with any charge under this category, it is prudent to find a skillful attorney who can see you through the case. At Vista Criminal Attorney Law Firm, you have access to a criminal defense attorney that will aggressively defend you on any fraud case. If you are in need of an attorney or any legal explanation related to fraud crimes across Vista, talk to your local fraud crimes attorney at 760-691-1551.