Our California criminal defense attorney represents clients who have been charged with fraud. In California, the crime of fraud encompasses several different offenses. What most fraud crimes have in common under California law is that they either consisted of actions that (1) resulted in an unfair benefit for the defendant and/ or (2) harmed another person or caused them a loss. Fraud includes a wide range of crimes within the California Penal Code .
What is fraud in California?
Fraud is usually referred to as “white collar crime,” and consists of several crimes including
- Forgery and Identity theft
This includes Internet fraud; forging, counterfeiting, or possessing a fraudulent public seal; forging or counterfeiting an ID or driver’s license; and falsely impersonating someone.
- Insurance Fraud
This includes auto insurance fraud, healthcare insurance fraud, Medi-Cal insurance fraud, unemployment insurance fraud, worker’s compensation fraud, and welfare fraud.
- Real Estate and Mortgage Fraud
This includes foreclosure fraud, lending schemes, property flipping, forging a deed, rent skimming, straw buying, and phantom help schemes.
- Generic Financial Fraud
Includes credit card fraud, check fraud, and securities fraud.
- Fraud Involving the Elderly
This area of California law deals with senior fraud and nursing home fraud.
- Other Fraud
Mail fraud, handicapped parking, and vehicle registration sticker fraud are other forms of fraud in California.
What are the penalties if a person is convicted of fraud in California?
Beside carrying long prison terms and heavy fines, many California fraud crimes are what are called “wobbler offenses,” which means that they can either be charged as felonies or misdemeanors depending on the defendant’s criminal history and the specific facts of the case. Other fraud offenses are also automatic felonies. Many other fraud offenses are also federal crimes. Still other fraud offenses can lead to the revocation and denial of a number of state professional licenses. Moreover, most fraud offenses are also viewed as offenses consisting of moral turpitude. A fraud conviction could undermine your credibility if testifying in court and could subject both legal and undocumented immigrants to detention and deportation.
Additionally, the government may and usually does seize any assets involved in the fraudulent activity. This includes money, land, real estate, artwork, vehicles, and jewelry.
What are the defenses for fraud in California?
- No fraudulent intent
Fraud can only be charged when there is intent to defraud. If defrauding someone was not your objective, your defense attorney will help you argue accordingly. For example, when a defendant is charged with check fraud, if the defendant believed that he had enough money to cover the check, he cannot be found guilty of check fraud.
- Mistaken Identity
Mistaken identity is a useful defense for fraud. There are two situations where an attorney can help you argue mistaken identity. In one case, you may be the victim of mistaken eye-witness identification. In the second case, you may be mistakenly identified by assumption. For example, you work at a nursing home in the accounting department and are charged with theft for funds that you did not take. However, since you work in accounting, it is assumed that you took it.
Entrapment is not easy to prove in California. Under California law, it is not sufficient for undercover police to provide a suspect with an opportunity to commit a crime. To rise to the level of entrapment, police had to coerce an individual to perpetrate a crime that he or she would not have otherwise perpetrated. This can often be very difficult to prove.
Fraud Defense at the Law Office of Lauren K. Johnson
If you have been charged with fraud, you need an attorney who will lead you through this complicated process. The Orange County criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Lauren K. Johnson provide experienced legal help to everyone in the community. It is always intimidating when you or a loved one has been charged with a crime. But it is important to remember that help is available. Please contact our office today or send us a message online to speak to our Orange County criminal law attorney.