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Fraud Defense Attorney in San Diego

In California, numerous crimes are considered to be fraudulent in nature, including forgery, insurance fraud, embezzlement, and credit card fraud. What unites each of these cases is that they all involve an accused person obtaining something that they do not otherwise have the right to own and/or a person or entity suffered an unfair loss as a result of fraudulent behavior.

Allegations of fraud should always be taken seriously, as the consequences of a conviction can be severe. It is important to protect your rights with the help of a qualified and reputable attorney. If you need a fraud defense attorney in San Diego, contact me as soon as possible. I offer personalized and steadfast legal representation and work tirelessly to reach a favorable outcome.

Give me a call at (619) 202-5583 to discuss your legal options today.

Fraud Crimes in California

Fraud is an umbrella term encompassing many different crimes. Here is a non-exhaustive list of offenses that involve fraud in the state of California:

  • Insurance fraud, which involves knowingly submitting incorrect information to insurance companies or the Employment Development Department to gain funds or advantages.
  • Embezzlement, or the fraudulent acquisition of property or money that was placed in a person’s trust.
  • Forgery, which is signing the name of another person, real or fictional, with the intent to defraud.
  • Tax fraud, which involves the failure to submit a tax return, filing documentation with incorrect information, or the failure to share information with the intent of gaining some benefit.
  • Credit card fraud, which is the intentional and unauthorized use of another person or business’s credit card.
  • Real estate and mortgage fraud, including “straw buying,” forging the deed to a property, and “rent skimming.”
  • Identity theft, when a person collects, records, or otherwise “takes” personal information such as a Social Security number or bank account number, and uses it unlawfully. For example, taking a loan out in other person’s name would be considered identity theft.
  • Medical fraud, sometimes referred to as Medi-Cal fraud, which is when a person bills the Medi-Cal program for services, supplies, or medication that are not performed or not necessary. Billing Medi-Cal for a total that exceeds the cost of the services performed is also considered medical fraud.

All of these crimes (and all other forms of fraud) come from a person using deceit to gain some benefit, usually money or property, though benefits can also include things like tax benefits, securing a specific role at your workplace, etc.

California’s Civil Code section 1710 defines four kinds of deceit as they relate to fraud:

  • Knowingly presenting untrue information as truth
  • The assertion that something is not true by someone who knows or believes it to be true
  • The suppression of a fact by a person who would otherwise need to disclose it, or providing information “of other facts which are likely to mislead for want of communication of that fact”
  • Making a promise that you have no intention of keeping

In other words, you must consciously manipulate information with the intent of engaging in fraud to be charged.

Consequences of Fraud Convictions

Though there are many forms of fraud, the penalties for each of these crimes can be severe. Typically, punishment for a conviction includes potential time in jail or prison, large fines, and restitution to the person or entity that was allegedly defrauded.

In California, many fraud crimes are considered “wobblers.” That means that they can either be filed as a misdemeanor or felony depending on how the prosecution files the case. Judges can also determine whether or not a fraud crime is punished as a felony; however, this is considerably less common than the alternative.

For misdemeanors, the penalties are fairly straightforward. If convicted, you could find yourself in jail for up to a year. You will also be fined up to $1,000. Depending on the details of your case, you could also be made to pay restitution, be assigned community service work, or be placed on probation.

Felonies are a little more complicated. They can be prosecuted at the state level, on the federal level, or, in some cases, both. Depending on the specific crime, the consequences of a felony fraud offense in California is a fine of up to $50,000 or twice the total sum of funds that was defrauded or the value of the defrauded property (whichever figure is higher). This is in addition to a sentence of up to five years in prison and potential restitution payments and probation.

In some cases, you can be charged with a felony on the federal level. This typically happens if the crime violates specific federal statutes; however, there are other opportunities for federal intervention as well. For example, the federal government is allowed to step in on cases of insurance fraud that affect interstate commerce.

The penalties on the federal level are different for each type of fraud, but they are generally very strict. For example, committing insurance fraud can get you up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 per incident. Embezzlement, on the other hand, can get you a sentence of 30 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000.

There are cases in which a person can be charged at both the state and federal levels, making the assistance of a reputable and experienced attorney hugely helpful. If you have been accused, I will do everything I can to help you reach a favorable outcome in your case as your San Diego fraud defense attorney.

Defenses for Fraud Allegations

Though being convicted for fraud carries potentially devastating consequences, there are numerous legal defenses at your disposal.

In California, fraud is considered an “intent crime,” meaning that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to commit fraud. Doing this is generally difficult, as there are many ways that you could conceivably commit fraud without ever realizing it. For example, the rules and instructions regarding filing your taxes are famously complicated. It is reasonable to conclude that inaccurate information on your tax return was a result of misunderstanding what was required, as opposed to the idea that you willfully and knowingly provided false information to gain money or benefits. Another example could be a salesperson claiming that a product has specific features that it does not have. It is certainly possible that this behavior was deliberate; however, the salesperson could simply be citing information that was given to them by a superior, the manufacturer, or as a result of personal research.

Lack of sufficient evidence is also a defense in cases of fraud. This argument is employed when the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to support their case. Failure to document details of the fraud, unreliable sources, or a lack of compelling information in support of a case are all situations that can lead to a lack of sufficient evidence defense. Cases that lack compelling, direct evidence can often be negotiated or even outright dismissed.

Sometimes, the prosecution may have charged the wrong person. In this case, a defense of mistaken identity may be most prudent. In cases that involve fraud taking place through written correspondence, by telephone, or via the internet, locating and proving the actual perpetrator of a crime can be difficult.

Additionally, California and the federal government both have a relatively short statute of limitations when it comes to fraud. An alleged victim has three years to sue someone for fraud in California and five years to sue a person on the federal level. Fraud investigations often take a long time, so it is not uncommon for prosecutors to simply run out of time when it comes to these cases.

If none of these apply to your specific case, the opportunity to negotiate for a more favorable sentence or even have the case dismissed is always possible. Cases of fraud involve a lot of work, resources, and time to investigate and prosecute. Depending on your case, the prosecution may conclude that the benefit of trying to prosecute you does not justify the effort it would take. There is also the possibility that you will be considered not likely to commit the offense again, making negotiation much easier.

Regardless of the details of your case, I will use every tool at my disposal to provide a legal defense that is professional, reliable, and unwavering.

Call Me Today

If you are being charged with fraud or suspect that you are being investigated for fraud, it is in your best interest to organize legal representation as quickly as possible. The sooner I can prepare a defense or negotiate with the prosecution, the better.

As a fraud defense lawyer in San Diego, I am very familiar with the processes and systems involved in cases of this nature. I will work hard to make sure you are represented with dignity, care, and attention.

I look forward to working on your case. To begin working with Kern Law, APC, please give me a call at (619) 202-5583 or contact me online today.