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Federal Fraud Sentencing Guidelines

By Spodek Law Group | February 2, 2019
(Last Updated On: May 27, 2023)

Before we look into the guidelines of sentencing in fraud cases, first lest familiarize ourselves with the real meaning of fraud. According to federal laws, fraud is referred to as any conscious and intentional action that is deceptive in nature or misrepresentation applied by someone to benefit him or herself. This is referred to using lies and deceit to acquire benefits. There are a variety of fraud cases across the states. These cases include embezzlement of funds, production, and supply of counterfeits goods, handling and any offenses surrounding stolen properties, wanton destruction of property, theft, forging of documents and other forms of deceitful theft. Now with the knowledge of what fraud is, let’s looking at the sentencing guidelines.

Sentencing guidelines

Generally, these fraud sentencing guidelines apply across all fraud cases. But it is also of importance to note that some instructions also are more specific and are only applicable in a more specific context of the fraud. It is of great essence to note that some of these sentencing guidelines are a bit tricky and hard especially in defining the loss incurred by the occurrence of a particular fraud case. And now straight to the provisions of federal law on the fraud cases. First at the lowest or basic fraud offense level, if the accused is found guilty of any of the fraud offenses, it is within the sentencing guidelines that he serves a jail term of 20 or more years. In case of a more specific fraud case scenario, if the loss incurred due to the said fraud offense exceeds $5000 the level of punishment (which in our case is the number of years) will continually increase by two as the amount of money lost increases.

Secondly, fraud offense of producing, supplying and owning things that are used in fraud has its own specific laws. This can be said to be in possession of items, or things that have been, can be, or will be used in fraud. These items include things like money printing machines, bank accounts information and illegal manufacture of credit cards both original and counterfeit. This type of fraud offense is charged using sentencing guidelines under the federal Fraud Acts. This Fraud Act slaps the accused with a maximum sentence of serving a jail term for 20 years for producing or supplying the fraudulent items and a five-year jail term for being in ownership of such fraudulent items. In most cases, maximum sentences for this fraud offense is rarely served.

Other sentencing guidelines include the quantity of the amount lost through the fraudulent action. This is always a key factor that the judge pays close attention before making a determination on any case. The focus is never on the amount the suspect acquired through fraud but rather on the amount the victim lost. In this case, the amount the victim lost is determined by many factors. These factors include the amount the victim lost during the time of the offense and the amount the victim would have gained or earned if he or she had not suffered the offense. The more the amount of money lost the higher the penalty it attracts.

The other one is the amount that features in the loss. This refers to the total number of people that suffered loss as an outcome of fraudulent action. This implies that judge in rendering a decision on a fraud case, he has to put in mind the number people affected by this fraud offense. The number can be large hence widespread losses or the amount can small. No matter the number of people involved, fraud is punishable by the law. But the number of involved denotes the severity of the punishment. This means that if more people incur losses due to fraud it attracts high penalties and few people involved the laser the sentence.

The other guideline is a position that the suspect was holding during the time he or she committed a fraud offense. This guideline looks into the power position of the accused. If he or she was in place of trust or he or she has the ability to influence the outcome of something. The position of trust is a situation where one holds a position that a trustee of many people. Fraud comes in when a person decides to take advantage of his position and role using fraudulent means to benefit his or herself. The judge takes into account this factor before delivering a ruling on any fraud offense case. If one is found guilty of a fraud offense and it is proven that he or she was in a position of trust, then this way he would attract a higher penalty than that was never in any position of influence.

For a ruling to be made on any fraud offense case, these sentencing guidelines which include the provisions of the federal laws, amount of money that would get lost, number of people affected by that particular fraud and finally the position of the suspect needs to be considered.

Fraud is a conscious, intentional, and deceptive act or misrepresentation intended to benefit the perpetrator. Federal laws on fraud cases provide sentencing guidelines that determine the punishment for those found guilty of fraud offenses. The basic fraud offense level carries a jail term of 20 or more years. Other factors considered in sentencing guidelines include the quantity of the amount lost, the number of people affected by the fraudulent action, and the position held by the suspect during the time of the offense. If the loss incurred exceeds $5,000, the level of punishment increases as the amount lost increases. The more people affected by the fraud and the higher the position of trust held by the guilty party, the harsher the punishment.

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