Fraud is a form of theft using deception. There is private fraud, where only individuals or businesses are impacted, and public fraud, when the crime is against the Crown, the public, and/or the economy. Whether you are accused of fraud for using a stolen credit card, filing a false insurance claim, or procuring government benefits when ineligible, fraud is a serious crime with serious consequences. Fraud can involve the sale of real property, personal property, securities, and digital assets and can target individuals and entire economies. Fraud can target the regularity of government services through voter fraud.
You should never speak with police or prosecutors upon arrest or represent yourself. You need a knowledgeable fraud lawyer from Bulwark Law to help. At Bulwark Law, our lawyers know how to defend your rights. When facing fraud charges, a skilled and experienced fraud lawyer can navigate you through the complexities of a criminal prosecution, including arrest, a bail hearing, disclosure review, negotiations with prosecutors, and trial, if necessary.
What Is Fraud in Calgary?
Fraud is more than theft. Fraud is taking something that doesn’t belong to you through misrepresentation. Fraud comes in many forms and can occur in business, family relationships, employment, or against the government or public. Fraud can involve mail, stock manipulation, insider trading, or selling real property. Fraud can occur in any of these areas:
- Banking and securities
- Charity and disasters
- Credit card
- Government benefits
- Identity theft
- Misrepresentation of legal documents
- Phishing on the Internet
- Romance scams
- White collar
- Worker’s compensation board
The severity of the charge is determined by the amount of the theft, with $5,000 marking the point at which the prosecutor may choose to proceed by indictment instead of having to proceed summarily. An elaborate or complex scheme may also cause the prosecutor to proceed by indictment. For example, a scheme to defraud the government or fraud that involves the betrayal of a testamentary document, such as a will, will be prosecuted by indictment rather than summarily.
The Crown must prove each of these elements to secure a conviction for fraud:
- A dishonest act, an act of deceit, or a falsehood
- Resulting in economic loss or deprivation caused by the fraud
- Subjective awareness of the fraudulent act, and
- Understanding that the act would cause economic deprivation or recklessness
What Are the Potential Consequences of Fraud Charges?
Depending on the value of the property affected and the scheme’s complexity, penalties for conviction can range from a discharge, meaning no criminal conviction, a fine with or without probation, or jail time.
- Fraud involving more than $5000 can result in imprisonment of up to 14 years
- Fraud involving less than $5000 can result in imprisonment of up to 2 years
If the fraud is more than $5000 and the fraud occurred in the course of employment or another trust-based relationship, the Crown will surely seek jail time. Other contributing factors that will impact any penalties are:
- The size, complexity, duration, and degree of planning
- Did the fraud impact the Canadian economy or a financial market
- The number of victims
- The nature of the impact on the victims
- Whether using your reputation in the community aided the fraud
- Violation of licensing or professional standards
- Nature of concealment of records
A conviction on fraud charges brings the consequences of having a criminal record and more. Fraud is a “crime of dishonesty,” and a conviction has an impact beyond damage to your reputation. Potential employers will be hesitant to place you in any future position involving handling money or working directly with clients. And a conviction for fraud can disqualify you from many professional licensing opportunities. Any criminal conviction can narrow your travel options outside Canada, especially barring entrance to the United States. For legal residents of Canada, a conviction can have a devastating impact on your immigration status.
How Can a Fraud Lawyer Help You?
Your future and your family require a rigorous defence right from the start of any fraud prosecution. An experienced fraud lawyer can help you in a number of important ways.
The skilled lawyers of Bulwark Law will investigate the police to challenge their methods and conclusions, including how they secured evidence and witness testimony. In addition, fraud investigations are often conducted by special investigatory agencies with sophisticated forensic accountants whose expertise is in service of the Crown. At Bulwark Law, we have the expertise to question their results.
Plus, an experienced fraud lawyer can negotiate with prosecutors, develop the right legal strategy, and prepare for trial if needed. Prosecutors who must face criminal defence lawyers with a history of success are more likely to consider withdrawal of charges or charging lesser offences.
When facing the full force of the Crown’s authority, do not try to represent yourself. The best advice is to remain silent and to hire an experienced fraud lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights and to begin the task of constructing a viable defence.
Contact Bulwark Law Today
If you are facing criminal charges of fraud, you need experienced and knowledgeable legal representation. Bulwark Law can help. Our lawyers are compassionate and skilled and have a strong reputation amongst judges and prosecutors in Calgary and throughout Alberta for mounting an effective defence. Contact us today at 403 678 7360 for your free initial consultation.