Fraud is a serious offense that could lead an individual to face serious penalties for his or her actions. For instance, it may be possible to spend time in jail or pay a large fine in addition to restitution to victims. This may be true whether the scheme to defraud was intentional or whether an individual who was charged committed the alleged crime of his or her own free will.
What Is Intent to Commit Fraud?
If you take any action that misrepresents who you are, what your business does or the potential benefits to a customer or investor, that may be intent to defraud. For instance, you may tell a bank that you made $1 million in profit last year as the basis for getting a loan despite the fact that your company is just a shell corporation that has never made a dollar.
You may also commit fraud if you promise an investor a large return on his or her investment but fail to deliver. While the value of an investment may go up or down over time, promising or guaranteeing a specific rate of return may be where authorities say you committed fraud. It is also a crime to use false records or other doctored documents to create the impression that your business is healthy from a financial perspective.
What Are Some Specific Penalties for Intent to Defraud?
In New York state, an individual could face up to four years in prison on a charge of scheming to defraud. In many cases, an individual may also face charges of falsifying business records or grand larceny. Whether these charges are also included depends on how many people were defrauded and if more than $1,000 was ultimately stolen or otherwise obtained through fraudulent means.
You Only Have to Defraud Two or More People
Under New York law, you only have to defraud two or more people to be guilty of this crime. Therefore, you could face many years in prison or other penalties for stealing money from your parents or a pair of coworkers. In the event that you take money from anyone labeled as a vulnerable elderly person, you could find that a prison term or other penalties may be enhanced.
What’s A Vulnerable Elderly Person?
Elder abuse is a problem that occurs more often than most people think. Older people may have less cognitive function or not understand that the people who they send money to aren’t running a charity or otherwise helping a worthy cause like they say that they are.
A vulnerable elderly person is anyone over the age of 60 who is incapable of providing physical or other care for him or herself. This must be proven beyond reasonable doubt, and any malady that this person suffers from must be directly attributable to old age as opposed to a health issue that anyone could suffer from.
How to Defend Yourself Against the Charge
The best way to defend yourself against a scheme to defraud charge is to hire an attorney. He or she will begin working on your defense immediately, and he or she may be able to poke holes in or otherwise cast doubt on the case against you. This may make it possible to come to a plea deal or have the case thrown out entirely.
In some cases, evidence used to charge you with this crime may be thrown out or suppressed. Legal counsel may also be able to convince a judge to allow evidence to be considered in a narrow manner. For instance, if an expert witness gives an opinion, a judge may instruct the jury to see it as opinion as opposed to objective evidence.
If you are charged with scheming to defraud another person or entity, you should take any step available to protect yourself and your reputation. An attorney may be available to handle your legal defense and make sure that you are treated fairly and receive as favorable an outcome as possible.