You have just been taken into custody for fraud, and you cannot stop thinking about what this means for you today and long term. You may naturally worry that your reputation will disintegrate, especially if you are a public figure in your community. You may also be concerned about losing your freedom if you end up with a conviction.
Fortunately, even though authorities may assert that you engaged in fraudulent behavior, it does not mean you are automatically guilty in the eyes of the law. Prosecutors have to prove a fraud accusation before a conviction can happen in Alabama.
What is fraud?
Committing fraud involves intentionally deceiving someone or some entity for personal or monetary gain. A fraud offense always includes deceitful conduct, a false statement or misrepresentation.
The following elements are necessary to prove a fraud charge:
- Someone misrepresented a material fact.
- The person who misrepresented the material fact knows that what he or she said was false.
- This person made the misrepresentation to somebody who justifiably relied on it.
- The other party’s reliance on the misrepresentation led to loss or injury on his or her part.
The penalties for a fraud offense depend on the nature, scope and level of severity of the act. A conviction can result in time behind bars, probation, a fine or all of these punishments.
What your attorney can do
Fraud offenses come in many forms, including bankruptcy, wire, securities, insurance or even credit card fraud, for example. If you face a fraud charge, your attorney will scrutinize the evidence that the prosecution plans to provide to support the allegation, looking for holes in it. In addition, your attorney can work with professionals such as forensic accountants and financial analysts when needed to create for you a strong defense.
In some cases, the weight of the prosecution’s evidence is strong enough that you may benefit from seeking to negotiate a plea agreement, which may lead to a lighter charge and thus a more lenient sentence than what would follow a guilty finding at trial. Your attorney’s ultimate goal if you are facing a fraud accusation is to help to preserve your rights while pursuing the most personally favorable outcome for you considering the circumstances surrounding your case.