Many people who are convicted of fraud have their careers ruined. Especially in the cases of business executives, they’re never able to work in the financial sector again. Convictions can also have terrible effects on a person’s home and personal life, even if they manage to avoid prison.
In federal cases, crimes are charged more severely than in prosecutions at the state level. Fraud cases are very complex, and the penalties will vary widely depending on the circumstances. Some of the most common influential factors include whether public officials were involved, how much money was involved, and how much of the action was motivated by greed.
State courts all have their own sentencing guidelines and penalties for different laws. Federal courts operate according to the US Sentencing Guidelines, which were put into place by the official US Sentencing Commission.
One of the goals of the commission was to stop the disparity in how people were sentenced in different parts of the country. By establishing influential factors, they created an algorithm that allows judges to calculate the sentence of an individual no matter which state they’re in.
The judge will calculate the offense level of the crime and combine it with a consideration of any previous criminal records. These numbers create a range of guidelines on a Sentencing Table. The table illustrates criminal sentences in months.
In the past, sentencing guidelines were mandatory. However, as of 2005, the Supreme Court has determined that judges may sentence outside the guidelines if they see fit.
When determining the sentence, judges take into account the guidelines along with factors including:
- The defendant’s characteristics and history
- The circumstances surrounding the offense
- The amount of need for a longer sentence to be imposed
- The availability of other forms of correctional treatment
- The types of sentences available
- Any policies related to the proceedings
Conviction Penalties for Fraud
Fraud is a large umbrella that encompasses many different crimes. Most federal crimes come with more severe penalties than a similar charge in a state court. Federal judges can choose not to sentence according to federal guidelines, but they impose a sentence in the calculated range in around 50 percent of cases.
People who are convicted of money laundering may be ordered to pay up to 500,000 dollars in restitution. They must pay twice the amount of money laundered. In addition, they will be sentenced to prison based on the felonies that come with the money laundering charges.
If a person is convicted of evading their taxes, they may have a maximum fine of 100,000 dollars. They may also face a maximum of five years in prison. With bank fraud, the sentencing guidelines range in degrees. The most severe comes with a fine of 1,000,000 dollars and a 30-year prison sentence.
Mail and wire fraud are two of the most common fraud convictions. They both come with maximum prison stays of 20 years.
If a person commits securities fraud, they may be fined based on how much money they fraudulently obtained. The fine will generally be larger than the total. People may also be subject to incarceration for anywhere up to 25 years.
Healthcare fraud convictions come with a fine in the amount of whatever services were fraudulently claimed or received. The maximum penalty is life in prison, with a minimum penalty of several years in prison.
If a person is convicted of bankruptcy fraud, their bankruptcy petition will be dismissed and there will be no chance to file it again. They will forfeit all of their assets. In addition, they may be sentenced to a maximum of five years behind bars.
It’s important to note that fraud accusations often stack. You may be accused of mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, and securities fraud for the same action. The prison sentences may be combined, resulting in a long stay in jail.
Defense attorneys can work to mitigate the potential sentence. Throughout the process, they will explain your options and work to negotiate with the prosecution. If you are sentenced to a long stay in jail, your defense attorney can file appeals and petition the court for a reduction.
Always have your attorney present when you talk to federal agents and prosecutors.